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Entertainment industry must take stock – Pastor Richards

Entertainment industry must take stock – Pastor Richards
PASTOR CECIL RICHARDS speaking on the topic of Violence Against Women, at a press conference held by the National Council of Women (NCW), on Wednesday, May 18, at the Kingstown Baptist Church.

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IN MAKING THE POINT that the issue with violence against women is not an individual one but a systemic problem, Pastor Cecil Richards has highlighted the entertainment industry as part of the system on which reflection is needed.

“…If we keep individualising that which is systemic, we are not gonna solve this,” Richards said. He was a member of the head table at a press conference held by the National Council of Women (NCW), on Wednesday, May 18, at the Kingstown Baptist Church of which he is the pastor in the wake of a spate of gruesome killings involving women.

“If there is not a single bloody murder of a woman in St Vincent and the Grenadines, will we speak out? If there is not another woman butchered in St Vincent and the Grenadines, will we speak up? If there is not a woman who is brutally beaten, will we speak? In the absence of all of these things we still have a problem,” he emphasised.

The religious leader explained that, “our” problem “is not an individual thing, it is systemic. It is the systems and its individuals, but we say systems, that we have in place that either support, facilitate, I wouldn’t say condone- in any caseprovides a bed and a safe place for our issues with women to reside.”

This can be in media and in schools, he said.

“Issues with the schools that go unaddressed are burgeoning and growing at capacity for anti-social and other personality disorders to run unchecked,” as well as the paucity of school counsellor per district, “to recognise tendencies and personality disorders that drive in the direction of aggression and crime, particularly around our young boys. They go unaddressed, systemic,” the pastor put forward.

“Systemic in the entertainment industry that it is in vogue for the denuding of the status of woman – to see her as rum, to see her as meat, to see her as objects – that all she is good for is to work up, work up, work up…shake up, push back, push back, push back the bumper,” Richards continued.

“…All this does, it denudes, it erodes, it eats out the status of women. And we are not talking about just men, we are talking young boys under 13 years of age,” who are forming a concept of who a woman is.

Young men are seeing, through this, the principal role of women as “to ‘whine down’”, the pastor said.

“I can go through the lyrics of just about all the songs and I could predict the ones that are coming next year,” he noted, as it is the same over and over again.

“And society applauds and appreciates and parties… our society is downright entertained by the devaluing of women.”

He said the vitriol against men accused of crimes is misdirected.

“We feel like, okay, there is some measure of catharsis if we lock away someone,” but the problem is “a society that is failing and as long as we don’t address that we will perpetuate this society, in fact grow a society that fails to appreciate the value of women.”

On the other hand pastor Richards noted that, “It’s not very often we get the kind of lyrics and sentiments and narrative that we would get from Tarrus Riley. It’s not very often you would get that. ‘She’s royal. So royal….’ You don’t get that often.”

He also referenced singer ‘Shaggy’ who released the song ‘Strength of woman’.

“Lauding and appreciating and valuing the significant contribution of woman…’She puts a smile upon your face, takes you to another place, don’t you underestimate the strength of a woman’… But these are with the minority. This is not the prevailing social view,” Richard stated.

Recent “Social scripting and narratives related to women devalue them, denude them and basically become dismissive of them,” he submitted.

He also touched on the issue of women in advertising.

“…Women are treated the way they are promoted. If they are promoted with worth, they will be treated with worth,” but rather they are promoted as objects.

The pastor added that, “…If we continue along this road of social scripting and social narrative and social behaviour concerning women we are continuing down a road where we are perpetually positioning women to be exploited and victimised.”

The solution does not lie in locking individuals away and throwing away the key, he said, “you fix it by fixing the social systems that are in place that facilitate, and support and even sometimes promote the denuding of the status of women. We’ve got to fix this St Vincent and the Grenadines, we’ve got to fix this.”

He added that beneath the murders that occur there is a sea of pain, hurt and victimisation “which never sees the light of day”.

“We get outrage, and rightly so, when women are killed and beaten but that’s only the tip of the iceberg, there’s a whole lot of pain, suffering and it is caused by the system. Our problem with women in St Vincent and the Grenadines is not some individual wackos, some men doing things to women, our problem – our system,” he concluded.