Yesterday having been UK World Book Day (US World Book Day is usually celebrated in October and this year is being highlighted on April 23rd – a Tale of Two Worlds, but that’s for another post) and today being International Day of Women it seems a perfect time to reflect a little on the stories of women, particularly in this region of the world.
Although over half the world’s population and fully part of humanity, most of the voices heard and stories told throughout history have been given from a male perspective, explicitly or implicitly. It is largely within the past few generations that women’s voices have risen to the fore and are being considered as “worthy” to be told – not because of who they are being told to, but because they are worth being heard. Queen Scheherazade is more than just a soothing entertainer for her King for a thousand and one nights.
Yet still there is need for more. Who can tell a woman’s story as well as the woman herself? Authenticity, vulnerability, raw truth, beneath the make-up and petticoats. And there is not just One Story for all women. There are as many as there are faces and fingers and feet.
This is especially true for women in the Caribbean. When coming up with the concept of Senseisha we tried to find common Caribbean language to capture the sense of empowered, positively sexual, body & spirit-wise women. Sadly most of the terms we came across were anything but. Our folk tales, calypsos, dub, jokes and idioms are full of references to women, but mostly as a Scheherazade (bedtime entertainment for men), a Delilah (a dangerous temptress who saps men of their strength), a Jezebel (a sly lover who robs a man of his wits) or, as Red Rat once put it, a Shelly-ann (an easy sexual conquest). The strong, wise women are usually mother or grandmother figures, stripped of any semblance of sexuality.
In the end we decided to make our own words and add to the lexicon; hence “senseisha”.
Senseisha: Memoirs of The Caribbean Woman is about the stories that are often left untold; women raising their voices outside of the realm of male fantasy and fear to say this is who we are, this is how we feel, these are the experiences that have made us giggle, laugh, cry, curse, coo and climax.