The other day I had the opportunity to see how messed up it is to be a Caribbean female and own your sexuality. While at lunch I was speaking to an older Jamaican lady and we were discussing relationships and I don’t’ recall how we got to this topic but I remember this lady who has built a wonderful life for herself could not say penis.
Dumbfounded I said to her say, ‘pe-nis’; she blushed and waved her hand because she couldn’t say the word. God knows his child and is fully aware I could not be a baby boomer I am not a spring chicken but I cant understand how someone who is clearly beyond fifty has an issue with the word, WORD, W-O-R-D, penis.
I grew up with Roxanne Shante, Foxy Browns and Lil Kim but on the Caribbean side I had Denise Belfon and the Goddess of sexuality – LADY SAW (bullet bullet – bang furnace). As I expanded into young adulthood we saw the dawn of all these powerful sexually inclined women all come together in the form of pop artist Rihanna. Rihanna album ‘This is Rihanna’ didn’t give us the understanding of her ownership of her sexuality but her album ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ clearly set us straight. Rihanna vocals from Umbrella to Push up on me, in addition, to Shut Up and Drive give an insist to a young lady that commanded a man who could handle her tone for honest companionship.
When I first heard Rihanna I was horrified how could a decent woman could be so free to speak such opinions on a Madonna-like level. What a hypocrite I was with this opinion I on one level welcome the raunchiness of Roxanne Shante;
“I said I met these three guys, and you know that’s true let me tell you and explain them all to you: I met this dude with the name of a hat I didn’t even walk away, I didn’t give him no rap Bhe then he got real mad and he got a little tired If he worked for me you know he would be fired” – Roxanne’s Revenge
Hypocrite for me to judge Riri when I jammed to the boldness of Denise Belfon; “Ah see ah tall man he gettin on tusty
I know if I just wine on you tonight, you will never leave meh
Dis is for de people who thought I lost it
Crawl under meh leg I’z yuh Moko Jumbie” – Something Down Dey
Why would Rihanna stir such disgust in me when I idolized Lady Saw and her revolution towards speaking of men’s forwardness in ‘Under the Sycamore Tree’; “Remember it was under the sycamore tree
A bwoy waan mi bow
An mi tell him fi flee
Remember it was under the sycamore treeee
The sun stop shining for me”
Hypocrite to judge Rihanna and her boldness yet embrace the women who came before her. I was hypocrite with my views because I was unable to fully grasp what she easily did which was my needs from a man. I too was unable to say penis in retrospect because I didn’t want to be label as a whore slut or bad girl. I wanted to hold the angelic ideal that went with a woman who didn’t speak publically about sex – penis, who never said what she needs – big penis, who was unable to vocal her needs – good penis. Rihanna gave me the ability to look at a grown woman who was unable to say the word penis and laugh silently in my head. Rihanna’s boldness and command for a man that can handle the challenge of her alpha type gave way for me to explore what I needed from a man and to speak my needs. My disgust towards Rihanna initially was my inability to speak for and command the needs I required from a man. Lady Saw Denise Belfont and Roxanne Shante played with the idea of speaking your truth to a man. Rihanna did not come to play, she sang her needs in plain English;
“I’ve got class like a ’57 Cadillac
Got overdrive with a whole lot of boom in the back You look like you can handle what’s under my hood You keep saying that you will, boy, I wish you would” – Shut up and Drive
Rihanna left no room for hiding she gave you hit after hit telling you what to do with her when she chooses to do it. That Bad Gal attitude broke hidden desires within me to be vocal with my needs without any apprehension or fear of labelling of slut or whore. Her attitude towards her sexuality and her independence liberated my mind to do the same for me. It gave me the opportunity to step into my truth fearlessly. This discomfort was discovered after many opportunities for me to determine why I had such strong disgust towards her after her album Good Girl Gone Bad. It’s been over 10 years since the release of that album and I can definitely say she has left a mark on the lives of many women within and outside of the Caribbean. She has shattered a lot of stigmas that are attached to women and their desires for sexual liberation. She has given women like me the ability to say penis without blushing. Thank you, Riri.