From our various readings, it appears that when the invading European soldiers and their missionaries first encountered African and Native American peoples centuries ago, some of our people were buck naked. It seems the Europeans were embarrassed, scandalized, intimidated, and so on. For sure, though, some of the invaders were “turned on.” That’s another story. These native peoples were living in tropical forests where the heat was intense, and it seemed natural to them to move unencumbered by clothes. In addition, sex was a routine aspect of the lives of Africans and Native Americans, and it was not considered sinful, shameful, or sick.
It seems that the Europeans felt that it was a most urgent requirement for our people to start wearing some clothes to cover their so-called private parts. At this point of our discourse, a couple things occur to us. One is that the Old Testament story goes that when Adam and Eve, our “first parents,” were innocent, free of sin, and close to God, they were naked. After they sinned, according to the Bible, by eating from the Tree of Knowledge which had been forbidden to them by the Almighty, they immediately became aware of their nakedness, and they became ashamed. The second thing that occurs to us is that, by comparison with the Muslim world, the Christian Western world around us sometimes behaves as if we would like for our women to wear as few clothes as possible.
We have been told by sisters that, theoretically, it should be that if they chose to walk the streets naked, brothers would be allowed to look but definitely not to touch. In a sense, that may be the feminist ideal – extreme provocative capacity on the part of the sisters, absolute self-control on the part of the brothers.
In the Muslim world, their approach to the incredible beauty and exciting sexuality of our sisters is to cover them up in a great deal of clothing. The Western approach to female sexuality, wherein that sexuality is exposed, and actually flaunted, is a great abomination in the eyes of the Muslim world. Islamic believers cannot understand how civilized societies allow our sisters to walk about and behave in such an immodest fashion, and they consider the Christian West to be in violation of divine standards.
In the Christian West, those “violations” are considered to be expressions of the liberation of women. The Christian West believes that women are repressed and persecuted in Islamic societies. So here we have one of the areas where Islam and Christianity have been in serious social and philosophical conflict – the issue of the role and behavior of women.
In Belize, as in other Christian societies of the West, women guard their twentieth-century freedoms fiercely. They have become organized all over the Christian West, and they will attack any expression or initiative which they believe threatens what we referred to as the “ideal” three paragraphs ago, that is, they can do whatever they wish with their bodies, and the brothers better learn to control themselves.
Essentially, one of our columnists dared to say last week that there were cases where the sisters had been proactive in causing brethren to lose control. In response, the women of Belize, as is their right, attacked with all their might. The columnist seemingly became confused, and what made things worse, there was a form of panic at a high level of the newspaper. The whole incident presented a perfect storm for Amandala, because our multiple checks and controls, one after the other, had broken down, from beginning to end, until we reached the point where, on the battlefield, men have been known to throw down their weapons and run.
There is a ruling Cabinet Minister in Belize who has a reputation of being disrespectful to women. This newspaper has never had such a reputation. Although we have always been Muslim sympathizers, we have never sought to repress women in any way.
The reality is that there are women and women’s organization in Belize who are armed and dangerous, so to speak. These are, to some extent, offshoots of regional and international political forces, most prominently in the United States, where the movement for women’s liberation latched on to the black civil rights movement in the 1960s and benefited legislatively therefrom in a substantial manner.
Elements in Belize’s women’s movement which are linked to the ruling UDP saw the controversial column as an opportunity to distract the public from the Cabinet scandals which have been dominating headlines for the past month. These are people who run the risk of branding themselves as hypocritical and opportunistic, down the road, because they have now set themselves a guideline which they will be pressured to follow whenever UDP personnel, as they surely will, say or do anything which is even vaguely disrespectful of women.
In conclusion, we would say that this newspaper has reached the point of leadership where we publish columns, letters and articles whose opinions we do not share. This is by way of performing a public service, because our editorial opinions at Amandala are basically minority ones. The majority opinions in Belize are those of the two dominant political parties and the leading Christian churches.
Insofar as Kremandala overall is concerned, you can see that we are at such an open and pluralistic level that severe public criticism of the specific Amandala column was generated from the personnel and studio of our television section. Partridge Street is a unique place, where debate and dissent are integral aspects of our media facility. Adult journalists are expected to operate and regulate themselves within the framework of public opinion. There is no Special Branch monitoring mechanism and no board of directors policing personalities. The history speaks for itself.
What Kremandala power there is, came from the people, and there is where that power remains.