Perhaps it is serendipitous that someone from the past, having read one of my teen-age poems in The Gleaner, forty-two years ago, should contact me to say she wants to perform my poem, “Metamorphosis,” at a forthcoming reunion.
Women aren’t women anymore
Women aren’t strong anymore
Women no longer sustain their men
They have become diluted with liberation
And have defeminized themselves
I include the second stanzas of the poem as an acknowledgement of my journey into a deeper understanding of femininity and masculinity, as it is clear that I was at a different phase at the time. I am not sure what I was thinking or why the didactic refrain carries the poem. What does it mean that women aren’t women anymore? What did I perceive to have caused the shift?
I am a feminist and have considered myself such since I was 19 years old, and like I have always said, my brand of feminism was developed from observing my mother and market women throughout Jamaica. The Women’s Movement gave me a language and a culture of women who were working to dismantle patri-archy, but my understanding and assurance of my right as a woman were modelled after my very independent mother, and other women in my Jamaican landscape whom I saw as equally fierce and aware.
Often, the question is asked, “What is the Caribbean brand of feminism?” Eudine Barriteau—interviewed in this issue—argues that Caribbean feminism concerns the lived reality of Caribbean women and the struggles and joys we experience. Many believe that feminists are separatists and lesbians, whatever the claim, as women we have all been impaired by the injustices of patriarchy that has also negatively impacted men. As a result, masculinity is in limbo as men work to unlearn certain behaviours and get in touch with their emotional landscape. They have to learn to see women as their allies and partners and not as sub-servient or as sexual preys.
This second issue, continues to explore, through letters and the visual arts, the multiple lenses through which we are growing into a fuller understanding of the vast diversity of Caribbean femininity and masculinity and how our expanding recognition of our commonality might lead to Gender Justice.In the spirit of unity, Walk good,