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Why Belizean women’s sexuality should not be used to encourage drinking

FeaturesWhy Belizean women’s sexuality should not be used to encourage drinking

by Jerry A. Enriquez

(First published in Amandala, Oct. 26, 2014)

The healing work of Chancy Deanna, one of my former students (see www.chancydeanna.com), who has dedicated her life to enabling women to awaken their feminine consciousness, always reinforces my awareness of the sacredness of women and their vast role in transforming a society. I first met Chancy, now a Shamanic Energy Healer and women’s empowerment coach, in 2006 when she participated in the intensive six-week, college- level study abroad summer program on “African Spirituality in the Caribbean” that I had co-organized and co-directed, and which involved site-based learning experiences in Jamaica and Belize.

It is her passionate devotion to womb-healing and her extensive training over the years that has kept me intrigued. My admiration of women healers must have come from my childhood connection with my paternal grandmother, a traditional healer. As Chancy explains it, the womb holds energetic memories from emotional and physical wounding of the past, and this can greatly impact the life of a woman. The process of women’s empowerment, therefore, also involves clearing out those deeply buried layers of feelings and stories that are withholding the feminine energy and creation center from blossoming to its fullest potential.

When a woman has experienced wounding from abusive relationships, sexual experiences, abortion, rape, or miscarriage, the energy of the sacred womb is violated. Not to mention the often religiously-validated oppressive culture of patriarchy and the social conditioning which has taught women to judge their physical appearance in relation to European standards and hate their natural selves. The results of all this are confusion, shame, sadness and anger which can suppress a woman from acknowledging, embracing and expressing her tremendous power.

Quite often, a lot of this pain can originate from childhood, passed on from the pain of parents or ancestors and accumulated over time. For better or worse, the physical, psychic, intellectual and emotional quality of a women’s life (as well as that of men) will impact that of the children and future generations. Behavioral manifestations of unresolved traumas can be toxic anger, denial, depression, jealousy, hatred, irritability, and resulting physical or mental illnesses. If this dynamic is not understood, the cycle can be repeated to result in more suffering for self and others. Evidently, men and women need to be healed, and must support one another through the healing process. However, healing cannot occur through escape to mind-altering substances. This can only further worsen the situation.

One of the most destructive forces that has contributed to the deep emotional wounds of women and their families is the high and increasing incidence of alcohol abuse, especially among Belizean men. The loss of hard-earned wages spent on drinking, can deny families the ability to purchase important necessities such as food and school supplies for the children.

The psychological and social effects of alcohol abuse have been deeply painful for too many families and communities across Belize. Within many homes, mothers and children have often been quietly forced to bear deep pains of abuse and violence by drunken fathers, husbands, sons, or other relatives. The resulting broken relationships from alcohol have often left mothers with the burden of individually salvaging their families. Alcohol abuse has also resulted in the neglect, and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse of children. An increasing number of families still bear the pains from the loss of loved ones whose lives were cut short by reckless drunk drivers. Violence, such as chopping and shooting deaths that have resulted from drunken quarrels, have painfully wrecked families in several communities, in most cases leaving mothers and children economically devastated by the loss of their sole breadwinner.

Not surprisingly, heavy drinkers and those who market alcohol are often the first to stubbornly argue against the impacts of their habit on others because they themselves are either heart-hardened to perceive the effects, live in denial, or are more concerned about monetary gains. Such denial blocks healing of themselves, families and communities.

Despite all these painful impacts that have wrecked many men, women, children and families, Belize continues to be a heavy drinking nation, while an increasing number of Belizean youths, including young women, are beginning to drink at an earlier age. A few major media houses have seemed to remain insensitive to these realities, as they prioritize money over the well-being of the nation in their marketing of alcohol.

Given the increasing consumption and abuse of alcohol nationwide, why would the beauty and attractiveness of a woman’s body, with all its curves and edges, as naked as possible, be objectified to entice men to purchase and consume more alcohol? Why? The marketing psychology is obvious: consistently connect the sensual pleasure of men’s visual attraction to women’s bodies to alcohol. The assumption: while women expose their bodies for their self-affirmation, knowingly or unknowingly, more men will be encouraged to consume more alcohol. The objective: increased alcohol sales and more profits. “Aiy hamodilihayoun ma” (see how they model), the late Andy Palacio gleefully sang.

In the end, who gets richer? Who gets poorer? For those who benefit, nothing else matters; not the medical costs from the impacts from alcohol abuse; and not the psychological and social costs to women, children, families, and communities. Unfortunately, by their stunning silence, women’s organizations have consistently remained compliant even throughout the annual celebration of Women’s Month. Perhaps they are quite satisfied that the images of women’s bodies are used to market alcohol, or that the name of an alcoholic product is branded with the child-nurturing part of a woman’s body.

There are many initiatives that women could undertake instead of desacralizing their bodies to market products that have proven to be potentially destructive. For example, instead of promoting products that can compromise the health of one’s body and mind, women could model how beautiful the body and emotions can be for themselves, their children, and the society through consistent health and wellness practices that nurture mind and body. Or if they want to celebrate their bodies as such, why not promote the importance of keeping Belize’s rivers, forests, and reef, free from the destructive impacts of one-use plastics that most businesses have demonstrated a gross lack of social conscience to care about. There is much that can be done towards nurturing a healthy and caring society.

Lewellyn Vaughn Lee, a renowned mystic and author, continues to teach through his spiritual work that, especially in these times of global crisis, the feminine holds the key to transformation. He reminds us that, “Women carry the sacred substance of life in their spiritual centers and understand how to give this quality of light to life. In their ability to give birth, women have the natural capacity to bring the light of a soul into the physical world of matter and thus awaken the spiritual potential of matter.”

“Sadly, because our culture has devalued the feminine, we have repressed so much of her nature, so many of her qualities. Instead, we live primarily masculine values … Without the feminine, nothing new can be born, nothing new can come into existence. [Consequently], we will remain caught in the materialistic images of life that are polluting our planet and desecrating our souls.”

If our society is to heal and be transformed, therefore, women must re-awaken those qualities. Many women are working very hard to heal the wounds that they have endured from past wrongs, and transform themselves. An important step in this direction, is to refrain from promoting and/or participating in lifestyles that will cause further harm and destruction to self, family, others, and community. Stay beautiful in body and mind.

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