Guyana is home. It will always be my home, even though I have spent over twenty-five years away from its homely embrace. I have made, nonetheless, regular annual and bi-annual visits since departing its well-trodden soil and I am extremely frightened by its fall from grace with respect to its social and moral decay. Economically, it seems to be doing good but, socially and morally, there has been a downward spiral, leaving much to be desired.
It is my intention, therefore, to show the relationship and influence, as it exists, between this social and moral decadence, and the type of music that our youths listen to, and to relate this to domestic violence.
As I have said elsewhere, in a previous article, “Domestic Violence and Religion”, we need to look at the root causes of this growing scourge and not gloss over the extent and severity of relevant punishment. It would be interesting to see the correlation between instituted punishment and domestic violence.
I concede that such punishment may be a deterrent. However, it would still be enlightening to see a statistical analysis which could show the effectiveness of this presumable deterrent.
The songs that I am going to analyze do not specifically instruct us to be violent to women but they serve to degrade their status. This, of course, leads to disrespect, dishonour, and a total disregard for women, which contributes to their abuse. What makes it worse and surprisingly disgusting, is the fact that many of these songs are sung by women, as if inviting behaviour which could violate them physically and emotionally.
Two very popular artists, Shelly G and D’Hitman, have a sexy, explicitly suggestive song and video that could be heard and seen by all and sundry, and is easily accessible. The song is titled ‘Iron’. The lyrics are provided below for your perusal:
Shelly G: Stay quiet, stay quiet
Nobody has to know
Meh seh meh nah guh talk
My body is calling for you
I want yuh to pressure me
I like what yuh doing baby
I feel it, it hard
D’ Hitman: I want to wine up on yuh body all night
I want to make yuh feel so right
I want to make yuh body feel so sweet
Yuh mek de ting stand up dat have no feet
Baby girl yuh gat de wining rule
Yuh know yuh mek dem man dem drool
Girl yuh know yuh looking real nice
I want to give it to yuh not one time but twice
Shelly G: Jam meh, jam meh with fire
Jam meh, jam meh
I want to feel it, I like it
All in de savannah, on de grandstand
Just give meh iron.
The musical arrangement is great and the soca beat is superb; you just want to dance and gyrate to the pounding beat, but in this song Shelly G is chipping away at the woman’s strength and defence. Could it be that they are singing about the steel pan, or, something else? Maybe, but listen to this song and look at the video, and there is no doubt in the mind of the listener that it’s all about the woman.
The following songs are on the lips of everyone – man, woman and child:
Ravi B – Rum is meh Lover
Ki -Single Forever
Jumo -Push Dat Bumper
Fiona and D’ Hitman -Strongman
The above listed songs are all fodder for the man to use in his emotional arsenal imbedded in his psyche, to give support to the subservience of the woman. These soca and chutney artists will argue that their lyrics are misinterpreted and that they are only suggestive. However, there is a thin line between suggestiveness and reality when it comes to our new wave of chutney and soca art form. The listener feels that he/she knows what the singer is saying and these songs are interpreted by many as reality.
Furthermore, the videos to these songs are very clear and suggestion does not even enter the mind of the viewer, since these videos are very specific and are like manuals which serve to denigrate the woman as a sex machine.
Our own Guyana Baboo, Terry Gajraj, who has been keeping his music clean and family-oriented, has gone astray with his ‘Grease Gun’. The words of this song are definitely suggestive. The video is outrageously vulgar and debases the woman. I know Terry personally and appeal to him not to get carried away with the trend of our singers and dancers who seem to be determined to use their talent to attack the integrity of our women.
These songs and videos are fed to an eager market of listeners on a daily basis, young and old, male and female, reinforcing the belief that the woman is, and must always be, subservient to the man, who uses and abuses her at his convenience and pleasure.
It is surprising and rather strange to see officials, television personalities and promoters rallying behind these artists who have gone astray with their distasteful productions. Maybe, in the case of promoters, this could be justified, since they could argue that it brings in more money. However, I think government and non-government officials, and TV and radio personalities must be selective in who they have on their shows. This will serve to awaken these artists and force them to give their listeners and audience better lyrics and videos.
Incentives must be given to our artists to excel in musical expressions which are morally and socially sound and could contribute to a strengthening of the woman’s role and status, instead of offering them rewards for the type of songs they have produced for this competitive season.
A woman’s integrity and her awareness of the role that she has in society are important attributes in the fight against disrespect and abuse. In addition, our female singers must respect themselves and strive to avoid productions that contribute to their subservience.
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