A Hail Mary for Fran­cis of St. Lu­cia!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By Tre­sha Lionel

Like so many other women, I’ve been called a whore, a hyp­ocrite and worse. On a daily ba­sis women are forced one way or an­other ei­ther to jus­tify un­de­served la­bels or to come out fight­ing in de­fence of their good name, as if al­ready we do not have more im­por­tant mat­ters in which to in­vest our fine minds and bound­less en­ergy.

This year’s cel­e­bra­tion of Women’s Month and the rit­ual ac­knowl­ege­ments of fe­male ac­com­plish­ments left me won­der­ing yet again about who I am and want to be— notwith­stand­ing the pres­sures to be like the lat­est of­fi­cial role model.

Should I choose char­ac­ter over rep­u­ta­tion? Id­i­otic con­vic­tions over public praise? Should I apol­o­gize for my sex­u­al­ity or should I cover my­self un­der a shroud of shame?

Should I throw cau­tion to the wind and live as only a young woman is priv­i­leged to live, if only for a rel­a­tively short time? Or should I act my grand­mother’s age de­spite that I’ve barely said good-bye to my teens? And if I am caught just once (God for­bid!) with my pants down, should I gird my youth­ful loins for a life­time of pun­ish­ment—sim­ply be­cause mine were of a par­tic­u­lar cut worn only by women?

I’ve more than once caught my­self ad­mir­ing for their courage women with colour­ful his­to­ries who de­fied the sin­ning stone throw­ers, too of­ten in­clud­ing mem­bers of their own gen­der. Sadly, to be a public per­son, and fe­male to boot, is to de­clare open sea­son on your­self.

It seems noth­ing is more en­ter­tain­ing to their lis­ten­ers than politi­cians pre­tend­ing to be co­me­di­ans, how­ever scabrous, misog­y­nis­tic and hyp­o­crit­i­cal. Leg­endary is Sir John’s 2006 come­back—in ef­fect a public in­vi­ta­tion to Menissa Ram­bally to “come see what a tooth­less tiger can do!” (Granted, the lady had opened up her own Pan­dora’s box when she sug­gested at a rally that Comp­ton was way too old for her, way past his sex­ual prime. Be­sides, she vol­un­teered, she al­ready had a man, mean­ing her party leader and prime min­is­ter. At least Comp­ton still re­tained his ever-sen­si­tive male ego!)

Of course, bur­dened as he was with a cer­tain rep­u­ta­tion, Comp­ton might have done bet­ter to let Menissa’s ball fly by, but then that’s for an­other show, as they say.

Our cur­rent batch of fe­male MPs is a strange breed. One is bur­dened with a speech pat­tern that turns off rather than en­trances lis­ten­ers. Com­i­cal hardly de­scribes it. An­other has a set of lungs that per­mits her to speak for hours at a trot and yet say ab­so­lutely noth­ing worth tak­ing home. A third, though at times im­pres­sive, could do with a les­son or two in dress­ing to im­press. Some point­ers about her make-up cer­tainly wouldn’t hurt.

Which is not to say the par­tic­u­lar fe­male MPs re­ferred to are less tal­ented than their male coun­ter­parts, most of whom are per­mit­ted to get away with their own well-known pro­cliv­i­ties On the con­trary. It’s just that by not pay­ing suf­fi­cient at­ten­tion to style, they sac­ri­fice their sub­stance. Not that the av­er­age Saint Lu­cian Jane or Joe cares about that. Not when their at­ten­tion is fo­cused on the area be­tween the fe­male MP’s col­lar­bone and her knees, and on her “bumper.”

Re­gard­less, some­times I find my­self dan­ger­ously over­look­ing their short­com­ings while giv­ing them per­haps un­de­served re­spect sim­ply for be­ing bold enough to en­ter Saint Lu­cia’s po­lit­i­cal arena.

At the wis­ing-up age of 23, only now set­ting out on the daunt­ing jour­ney to wom­an­hood, I think of the one woman whom I have al­ways re­spected and now see her more and more mor­ph­ing into a martyr. Were I still a news re­porter, I could not re­sist ask­ing Mary Fran­cis whether she had ever ex­pe­ri­enced a greater feel­ing than vin­di­ca­tion, af­ter all th­ese years of mind­less per­se­cu­tion by un­feel­ing im­be­ciles who’ve never learned to re­spect hu­man be­ings, let alone their rights, largely be­cause what­ever was hu­man in them at birth had a long time since died.

I am in­spired by the fact that what Ms Fran­cis lacks in phys­i­cal terms, she more than makes up for with char­ac­ter. To stand in the face of thou­sands who threaten and ridicule; to stand up against Ne­an­derthal po­lice of­fi­cials and politi­cians; to be con­sid­ered a fool by over­cau­tious self-de­luded peers— all in her at­tempts to see jus­tice done is wor­thy of the high­est praise.

Alas, in our coun­try such praise must first come from our lead­ers, Mary’s prime tar­gets. I say to her, keep on keep­ing on. Your day will come, hope­fully when you still can hear and see. Our legal sys­tem must and will change. And when it does, count on it, there will be many to sing your praises as an epit­ome of brav­ery and, dare I say, virtue. I look for­ward to a time soon, when, thanks to your work, women will no longer be con­sid­ered in­ad­e­quate just be­cause we are women. Or de­serv­ing of what­ever vi­o­lence is dished out to us, phys­i­cally, men­tally or psy­chi­cally, be­cause we “asked for it.” A few wellplaced real men and women of courage and the char­ac­ter of Mary Fran­cis can overnight bring much-needed change to Saint Lu­cia.

Hu­man Rights Lawyer Mary Fran­cis.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.