Equal Rights in Dancehall
The phrase Equal rights used to be a rallying cry for persons who were fighting for recognition of their mistreatment at the hands of their oppressors…. and then Ishawana came along. Dear Lord, what a mess…
By now it's safe to say that everyone has heard the song Equal Rights and has formed an opinion on it. Sporting some of the raunchiest lyrics ever put to track, it highlights a taboo subject -oral sex- in Jamaica and the subsequent pushback is interesting. Calling the song controversial is an understatement: one of our politicians coming out as gay would be controversial, saying that Jamaican Pastors are predators would be controversial. Hell even saying that Burger King has better fries than KFC is controversial -they do though.- Equal rights is the equivalent of throwing a grenade into a gas station then waiting for the subsequent explosion and explode it did, with men foaming at the mouth (lol) about the glorification of "the forbidden act."
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Yet it shows a fundamental hypocrisy in Dancehall when Kartel sang about the Freaky Gyal and Good gyal Juliene, the men rejoiced and the taboo act once spoken about in hushed whispers was dragged to the forefront, videos and Dear Pastor letters included. So what's the difference here? When Gage was seeking the ‘neck back' of that young lady, you couldn't go to a dance and not hear it. So why the push back against Equal Rights? In my opinion, it is a case of the stone being thrown into the proverbial hog pen, who got hit will certainly squeal out. A lot of persons are now forced with the fact that they may be dragged out of their ‘closets' and can no longer hide under the quiet. It is also a coming of age time for Dancehall where women are no longer shy about speaking about acts they perform -which they've never been shy about- but also about acts being performed ON them. I could go on about the parallels between feminism/misogyny in Dancehall and the global feminism movement but that's overcomplicating the issue and while it is relevant, it's not that deep. Okay, it is but we aren't here to debate that, one day though.
But back to the discourse, Dancehall has a curious position in Jamaican culture. It is pop culture, setting the trend and trending: where to go, what weed to smoke, clothes to wear, how to act etc.. It is also counter-culture in that it pushes back at the established norms of society and I use push lightly here. Dancehall does nothing in half measures, it is always extra and extravagant. Perhaps that's why the Uptown prefers Soca. Soca is that friend that sends you the monkey hiding behind its hands and winking emojis and coyly says he/she likes you then begs a dance, Dancehall sends you the eggplant, peach, devil and squirting emojis along with a straightforward voice note about you on your head top doing some obscure sexual act, Vybz Kartel song included in the background.
In due time the noise about this will die down and life will go back to normal but don't be surprised if a couple videos surface first. Dancehall My verdict on all this? If you like the song, go through and do ya thing. If you don't? Lock yuh mouth and gwaan.