Monday, May 18, 2009

Misogyny in Jamaican (Dancehall) Culture

Jamaica is famous for its nightlong street dances. Friends tell me they get all the Passa Passa DVD’s in New York. Following the “dagarin” phenomenon, which celebrated the objectification and dehumanization of our women, a more disturbing form of entertainment seems increasingly prominent in Dancehall- that of jumping on open-legged women, without concern for the woman’s physical health, before thrusting violently at the waist, and oftentimes turning acrobatically on the ground, which supposedly increases the perceived entertainment value of the act. I judge this based on the proliferation of You Tube videos displaying this barbarity. Such misogynistic displays of Jamaica’s patriarchal social constructions must end!

Let me take you through the two-minute video that I watched recently. A woman sits in a bucket and has water thrown on her. A young man, about 40 feet away, prepares himself for running down the path that was cleared by eager spectators. He runs up, somersaults, and in an almost slow motion sequence flies through the air, with his rear end landing squarely on the woman’s head. Her back was bent to the ground, her hands were outstretched as she prepared herself for the worst, but the weight of his body was too great. She was knocked unconscious, or worse, dead. The man stood up proudly, cheered by the crowd, and then lies down on the woman, thrusting at the hip, while he tried to wake her up. When he realized she was unconscious, he sought to lift her, while others through water on her face. Her head bobbed from side to side, while the stentorian commentator made jokes about her possible death. The crown was feverish. At least four people carried her off into the darkness. The video continued, as the somersault and the landing were repeated twice, presumably for my viewing pleasure. This is deeply disturbing.

Even more disturbing was the comments made by a few of the viewers. One was, “LMAO wow” (lmao is instant messaging jargon for “laughing my ass off”) while another read, “lol amazing.” These reactions, and those of the spectators horrify me, for they are symptomatic of more serious problems crippling our society. Jamaica hates women. Of this, I am sure. We speak of how much “wi lov wi uman dem”, but our rates of domestic abuse, assault, rape, workplace sexual abuse, and the like against women, tell an entirely different story. The economy is important, as is our escalating crime rates, but so is this. Acts of misogyny are far less quantifiable, but arguably much more destructive to a developing society.

Street dances should not take place without having police officers, or other medically trained personnel, present. If that woman had any broken vertebrae, or a slight chance to live, the immediate response of the ignorant crowd damaged her spinal chord, and otherwise killed her. I am OUTRAGED!

If you have facebook, see video
HERE. Be warned though, it is very graphic, and may not be appropriate for the weak-hearted.


  1. It is reported worldwide and through amnesty international that alot of jamaica is inbred. Jimmy Cliff in his movie the harder they come tryed to point out in the 70s that it was a problem but it was played down. it is now 2010 and the problem is worse than ever. whereever there are too many jamaicans there is trouble. In england they have shootings, postcode voilence,and lottery scams, abusive sex and they have even taken to spying and tapping phone calls to abuse women, all in all it points to these people being very sick, which is a shame after some very positive artist and althletes coming from the island. The rest of jamaica is a sham.

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