WINAD: Machel’s wining comments ‘sexist and dangerous’
(Photo courtesy Machel Montano via Twitter @machelmontano)
Wining on a person without their consent is not ok, according to two women’s advocacy groups.
Head of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD), Folade Mutota, said Montano’s comments on wining at a recent fete is a ‘sexist and dangerous’ invitation.
According to a story published Monday in the Trinidad Express, Montano jokingly told the crowd at the ‘Stumped’ fete over the weekend to wine and ‘take lock up’, disregarding recent police statements that wining on someone without consent could constitute an offence.
Mutota said that although wining is a part of local culture, it should not erase the need for consent.
“Wining is but an expression of our culture....but it is also an expression of personal agency in the public space that is otherwise so restrictive for women where women commonly face sexual harassment and assault.”
“Consequently, wining may have less to do with women inviting men to wine on them than men think,” she said.
“Machel's comment/instruction is sexist and dangerous. He has in fact signalled that he does not believe that he and other men should be constrained by the law or respect women's rights.”
She added that women should be allowed to wine without being interrupted or harassed if they so choose.
“Women have the right to self-expression un-interrupted....including wining. It has little to do with men,” she said.
PLOTT: ‘No’ means ‘No’
CEO of Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT), Gillian Wall, said that although wining is part of Trinidad and Tobago’s culture, the importance of consent must not be cast aside.
“The police making the call (that wining without consent is an offence) is a big deal, the realisation (is there now) that it is an offence. We operate in a society where so much of the environment, the music, the culture, is encouraging the ‘wine and jam’, we’ve forgotten that we also have a right to refuse.”
“What typically happens at Carnival time is the individuals would make a big deal or be offended if someone refuses to wine with them, and there are comments such as “If you don’t want people to wine or jam on you then stay home”, which implies that ‘this is our culture, get with it or disappear’.”
“I believe the police made the statement because they want to remind people to respect women and respect their rights. Many officers and men also reply that it goes both ways, and I agree that it does, but we are simply saying that ‘no means no’. You’ve made an unwanted advance toward an individual, and if they say no, then respect that,” she said.
Wall said that thinking like this is what encourages violence against women.
"Any individual who claims to trivialise another's right to say no and refuse an unwanted advance, whether at Carnival or otherwise, is underestimating what a severe problem we have with regards to gender-based violence," she said.
Wall added that although she understands Montano's statements were not made intentionally, celebrities have a responsibility with regard to the messages they send.
"I understand that some statements are made in ignorance and it exists in males and females, not just men. What we're seeking to do is increase awareness and that's what this conversation is about right now. While it seems like a trivial matter, it's an opportunity to increase the conversation around increasing respect for women in T&T," she said.
As for men who become angry when a woman says no to a wine?
“Find a therapist,” said Mutota.