In celebration of a special occasion, I was one of four people having dinner at a fairly popular restaurant, known for its focus on meat, at a major resort in New Providence. The restaurant was selected to give the guest of honour as many options as possible, allowing her to be as indulgent as she wished. Since I choose not to eat meat, I looked at the menu online and identified the items that I could order and hoped to enjoy.

The service was far from exceptional, but we generally got what we needed. As I have done many times before at many different restaurants, I ordered an appetizer with a side dish to be served as my main course. No server has ever objected or shown disapproval. This time, however, the server cocked his head to the side, raised his eyebrows, sighed, and shrugged as he seemed to go from, “What in the world…” to “Oh, well, whatever you say” in a matter of seconds.

I ordered a rather popular beverage that is quite easy to make, but it left much to be desired. After one sip, it sat on the table as we had appetizers and the main course. It was not until we had finished the main course that someone on staff — not our server — finally noticed the glass was full and inquired about it. A replacement was offered, but at this point, it was not needed. The servers were simply not as attentive as they ought to have been, though they seemed to pass by often and stopped a few times to ask the oldest man at the table if he wanted more wine and if everything was fine. The rest of us did not seem to be of any concern to them.

When I go out for dinner, I look forward to having dessert. In fact, other people in my party always look to me at a certain point and ask me what I plan to order for dessert. It is expected, and it is no secret that I will leave my main course unfinished to ensure that I can enjoy dessert. A server came to the table and asked if anyone would be having dessert. This question, again, was posed to the oldest man. He looked to me, and I confirmed that I wanted to see the menu. The server returned with one dessert menu, held it out to me, and I reached for it, only for it to be swiftly retracted. The server closed the menu, walked around me, and offered it to the man. While I have experienced and witnessed patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism with regularity all my life, I was stunned. I looked at the other people at the table who were equally shocked by what had happened. There was uncomfortable laughter, but I could not participate. I was disgusted.

The man to my right asked, “Do you want to see it?” and held the menu out to me. I said, “No, apparently it’s for men.” At this, everyone at the table laughed. Someone else said, “Why would he do that?” Another commented that it was “wild.”

“It’s not like you’re children and you need your daddy to order for you,” the guest of honour remarked. No one could make sense of what had happened.

None of us ordered dessert. At the table, I was the only person who usually gets dessert. Sometimes another person is encouraged to get something sweet when I make a selection, but none of them ever order it unless I do first. When I shared this story with friends a few days later, they commented on the absurdity as well as the stupidity of the act. “Actually, it’s usually the women who order dessert,” one of them said. The rest of us nodded in agreement.

There are so many questions that arise from this experience. Why was only one menu brought to the table? Why was it offered to me in the first place, and then taken back? Why did the server think the menu should go to one particular person — a man? Was this a part of the staff training?

As I carry out my work as a women’s rights advocate and a gender consultant, people sometimes try to argue with me about the facts I present which have ever-present evidence. Patriarchy exists, and it leads to men — whether fathers, partners, or brothers — being regarded as decision-makers and custodians of women. Misogyny is ingrained, leading to women being disregarded, ignored, and intentionally excluded in favor of men. Sexism features prominently in our daily lives as the preference for men is demonstrated over and over again. I had dinner with three people, and these three ugly realities — patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism — were brought to the table. They are not just words or ideas. They are behaviour-shaping systems and beliefs. They impact our daily lives. On this particular occasion, they were a nuisance and a barrier to my favourite part of dinner, but they regularly bring much worse effects in the form of gender-based violence.

Women can give example after example of being patronised, infantilised, and disrespected by men, all because they are women. How many times have you heard a woman talk about the ridiculous behaviour of men when they are parallel parking or reversing? It is not because they lack the ability to do it, but that men are convinced that they are someone superior to women and that women need their assistance when driving. With rear and sideview mirrors and, these days, cameras affixed to vehicles, men still have a sense of self-importance and try to impose themselves upon women who are doing fine without them.

Over the next week, pay attention to the way men engage with women. Take note of the instances when you recognise patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism in action. Share your list on social media. Talk to your family members, colleagues, and friends about the incidents.

For the next week and beyond, when you have the opportunity and can do so safely, intervene. Call it by its name so everyone involved and observing can learn from it. It is not enough to say you love and support women. Address the people who are failing, help others to see the relatively small ways women are discriminated against, and promote gender equality through action.


1 Develop and commit to a savings plan. Whether you have your Christmas bonus in hand or it is on the way, this is a good time to make a commitment. Starting a savings practice can be difficult, from thinking $10 is not enough to make a difference to competing options for the use of $1000. It feels good to treat yourself to tangible goods and may be less immediately gratifying to, instead, put money in a high-interest savings account, but it is worth the exercise in discipline. Once your bills are paid and necessities are taken care of, make as generous a deposit as you can to start your new saving practice. Decide how much you will be able to add to the account on a weekly or monthly basis and make sticking to it easy for yourself. This could mean setting a calendar reminder for the first Tuesday in every month or being specific about where that money will come from. Maybe you will reduce your weekly purchased lunches by one or dedicate your overtime payments to the account. Do what works for you. Push yourself, but make sure you can keep the commitment.

2 Go to therapy. There is no substitute for it. No self-help books, religious books, long phone calls with friends, spa day, vacation, passion project, or workout can take the place of a trained professional listening to you and providing guidance to help you to improve your mental health and, by extension, your life. Addiction, anxiety, stress, depression, grief, relationship issues, swift and frequent mood changes, and big transitions are all good reasons to go to therapy. They do not, however, need to be the reason you start. It is helpful to have a strong relationship with a mental health professional before you are in crisis or need a specific type of support so you have the opportunity to get to know each other, and they can learn more about you, your background, and what you are working toward. Nothing has to be wrong for you to benefit from therapy. It is important to be able to unpack, pose questions, and have unfiltered conversations without judgment or biased responses. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right therapist for you, and the trial and error process is far less stressful when you are not in a rush or desperate for immediate help.

Published in The Tribune on December 14, 2022.

We need to talk about consent. Most of us understand it to mean permission. Parents and guardians signing forms to allow children to participate in extracurricular activities probably comes to mind. We don’t think about consent as a way of controlling and protecting our own bodies. Instead, we view the bodies of women and girls as public property.

When we force children to show affection to family members and friends without prejudice, we teach them they do not own their bodies. When we tell teenaged girls, “Dress the way you want to be addressed”, we are telling them other people’s perceptions of them are the most important thing. We have many ways of making each other less than human, stripping away rights and dignity. We find ways to blame one another for any violation experienced, conditioned by and continuing the perpetuation of rape culture.

Rape culture is prevalent in our environment and allows people to believe there is something women and girls can do to prevent sexual assault. We can dress differently, travel in groups, ensure we are always accompanied by men, refrain from consuming alcohol, get home before dark and ignore our own sexuality. Even further, we can purchase a number of products like special underwear that only we can remove and nail polish that detects date rape drugs in our drinks. The onus is continuously put on us, women and girls to protect ourselves by being less visible and investing in products specifically designed for us. As if this is not enough to bear, our law does not recognise us as full people after we marry.

According to the Sexual Offences Act, once married, women are no longer entitled to (not) give consent to their husbands and are expected to engage in sexual activity whether we would like to or not. The Act says we cannot be raped and, by marrying us, men have unlimited rights to access our bodies.

What if this were the case for murder? If a man owns his wife’s body to the extent he can penetrate her vagina without her consent, what is to keep him from thinking he can kill her without consequence? If we stick to the “two become one” argument, we set ourselves down a slippery slope. Married women can vote, but not say “no” to sex and have the right to press charges if her husband rapes her. Married women are human beings in some ways, but property in others.

There is no reason for women to be denied the right to choose what to do with their bodies, in marriage or otherwise. The narrative of false accusations is completely baseless at best and foolish at worst. If we create legislation and policies based on potential for misuse, we would likely be forced to go without. Anarchy, anyone?

People talk about the great fear of the lying woman. Won’t married women lie on their husbands, just because?

People sometimes lie — not women; people. Cases sometimes go to court and the defendants are innocent. Sometimes it is difficult to prove the crime. We see this happen every day. This is the reason for courts, judges and juries. It is the reason evidence is required. The justice system has its issues, but so do society, the church and the institution of marriage. Are we really satisfied to doom married women to live as the property of their husbands, able to be lawfully violated? Are we happy to have even ten women suffer in silence, with no legal recourse, because one might lie on her husband? Do we really believe men are entitled to sex on demand when they marry a woman?

To be clear, rape is not sex. Sex can only occur with clear, continuous consent from all parties involved. When anyone is forced to participate in sexual activity, it is assault — a violation. If a person is underage, they are not able to give consent. If a person is intoxicated, they are not able to give consent. If a person is unconscious or asleep, they are not able to give consent. Consent must exist for a sexual act to be lawful. It must be explicit and cannot be coerced. There is no such thing as sex without consent; that is rape. It does not matter whether or not the people involved are married. Consent is not granted in perpetuity, regardless of licences and vows. We have the right to say yes or no.

In July 2009, then MP for Long Island Loretta Butler-Turner tabled the marital rape bill which would have amended the Sexual Offences Act to omit “who is not his spouse” so that marital status does not enter the definition of rape or impede access to justice. Eight years later, we are having the same conversation on the same level, seemingly with no better understanding of or appreciation for women’s rights as human rights. We listen to political and religious leaders and allow them to guide our thoughts on opinions far too often. We forget Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers work for us and should be acting in the best interest of the Bahamian people. Laws and policies should be made to protect the most vulnerable among us; not putting them at higher risk or further marginalizing them from the rest of society. Religious leaders should not be interfering in governance of the country, or imposing themselves and their views on the citizenry. They should be rebuking the consistent, dangerous misuse of biblical text to support misogyny.

Those who support men who rape their wives often use biblical text, mostly in fragments, to compel others to do the same. A favourite is Ephesians 5:22 which implores women to submit themselves to their husbands. Those quoting this scripture conveniently neglect to mention verses 23 and 28 which call on men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and “as their own bodies”. A true, practising Christian would surely look at the full scripture and, upon seeing “love,” refer to I Corinthians 13 for its definition and characteristics. According to Paul, love is patient, kind and protective and is not self-seeking. If a man loves his wife, would he not be patient, kind and protective, and willing to put his own desires aside instead of being self-seeking? If a man loves his wife as Christ loved the church — for which He gave His life — what limit would there be to what he would give up for her? Why aren’t we holding men to the same standards we demand women meet?

A married woman is still a woman, and a human being. Married women, like unmarried women, have human rights. These include being equal in dignity and rights, the right to security of person, freedom from slavery or servitude and recognition everywhere as a person before the law. In addition to being protected from sexual assault and understood to be human beings, women deserve to have access to justice. We need to look at the Sexual Offences Act and its definition of rape. We need to look at the way we view marriage and, in particular, the privileges of men within the institution. We need to understand that rape is rape, no matter who is involved. Perhaps more than that, we need to look at the positions we take and the arguments we use and ask ourselves who we are trying to protect – and why?

Published in Culture Clash — a weekly column in The Tribune — on December 20, 2017

It being misogyny. And/or fatphobia.


I’ve been paying attention to the public dialogue about charges brought against Usher for knowingly exposing women to at least one STD — herpes — without disclosing. This is vile, manipulative, and an abuse of power. It’s disappointing to see where people have put their focus. Most comments I’ve seen are either about the stupidity of the women who they presume engaged in unprotected sexual activity with Usher, or the incredulity about Usher engaging in sexual activity with a fat women. Which one pisses me off more? I really don’t know. Overall, I’m outraged by the continued scapegoating of women, even in a situation where a man is clearly at fault.
I’ve commented on a few threads about this story, and decided this morning that I would pull out the key pieces to share here, both because I am tired of talking to people who don’t actually want to listen, learn, or admit to their fuckups, and because it’s important to document these ideas and positions since, unfortunately, the same things come up over and over again. I definitely plan to drop the link to this post in comments all over Facebook and walk away, refusing to do any more free labor.


Here are nine points that kept coming up:
  1. Fat women have sex. Maybe someone told you fat women are unattractive, asexual, or undesirable, but you should cut that liar all the way off.
  2.  Casual sex is a thing. It’s fine. Don’t like? Don’t have it.
  3. Exposure to STDs is not limited to penetration.
  4. Comprehensive sexual education has NOT been made available to everyone, and access to health care resources and services is not universal. Judging people with limited or no access is indicative of cognitive dissonance. Or a character flaw.
  5. Shaming and blaming are counterproductive activities if you have the least bit of interest in improving sex ed and/or access to services and resources. It’s really good for feeding your superiority complex and reducing the likelihood of your friends and family members coming to you if they need help though, so there’s that.
  6. We are all suffering the effects of the abstinence-only “education” peddled for decades. Similarly, we continue to suffer the effects of the monogamy-only rhetoric. Learned early enough, these ideas take root, shaping negative narratives around anything different and, if you’re not careful, result in closed-minded judgmental positions you are opposed to shifting, even in the face of new information and/or different contexts. This inflexibility is not a strength.
  7. There’s inequality in access to contraception. Ever seen condoms in a pharmacy, gas station, or grocery store? Ever seen dental dams in any of those places?
  8. The likelihood that you have, whether knowingly or unknowingly, put yourself at risk of contracting STDs is pretty high. Blow job without protection? Yeah, that’s one. Kissing people without seeing results of their sexual health screenings? Another one. (Hello, herpes!)
  9. There is a power dynamic too many people love to ignore. It exists between men and women. Employer and employee. Parent and child. Priest and parishioner. Celebrity and fan. 40-year-old and 20-year-old. That power dynamic affects engagement.
We have a long way to go. If you’re not running the marathon with the people doing this work, it’d be nice if you’d at least work a water station. If you’re not going to help at all, it’d be appreciated if you don’t get on the route to elbow or trip those of us pushing to get to next mile marker. Your judgment and lack of information/understanding/global context is not helping anyone get the resources and services they need, and is definitely contributing to the shame that keeps people from actively searching and asking for what they need. Get out of the way.



Edit to add: I’ve seen reported that Usher does not have herpes and plans to sue for defamation. While that may be the case, all I have said stands as it is a direct response to the commentary around the accusation rather than the accusation itself.

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