Farmer Nappy’s hit song ignites gender debate

Farmer Nappy (Photo via LoopTT)
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Trinidad and Tobago artiste, Farmer Nappy’s hit song, ‘Hookin’ me’ is drawing more attention from listeners who are weighing in on a view presented by a women’s rights activist.

Last week, activist Marsha Hinds penned a column in the Barbados Today, describing the song as one of the more problematic in the various Caribbean genres of music.

“I think the most dangerous thing about the song is that it is not ‘Ragga Ragga’ neither is it bashment. The sound is a mellow, methodical, sweet soca but the lyrics make a mockery of women’s right to safely negotiate the end of a relationship and to have the power of a ‘done’,” Ms. Hinds wrote.

She added that  “the song glorifies possessive and obsessive tendencies in men and confuses them with markers of love. We have been trying to teach women that the possessiveness and obsessiveness in relationships are warning signs of toxic unions and this behaviour should not be tolerated or encouraged.”

The column has elicited an outpouring of views on social media.

Farmer Nappy, whose real name is Darryl Henry, himself has responded. Barbados Today quoted him on Monday 4 February as saying that his song in no way promoted domestic violence, and that his music was clean.

“Anytime you put your hand on a woman, you are hitting your mother. We don’t deal with violence,” he said, according to the Looptt. He also advised men that “anytime a woman puts their clothes in a garbage bag, leave in peace.”

On Facebook, Kevin Pascall said he didn’t agree with the author of the column and thought the song simply told “a story of domestic affairs”.

Other listeners contend that society had become “overly sensitive”, and that there was too much debate around the song that was “festival music, plain and simple”.

On Twitter, ‘Kaidie’ said that “Caribbean artists must use their platforms to empower women and girls – many of whom are subject to Intimate partner violence. So if a woman wants to leave a situation in which she is uncomfortable, we must foster a society in which she is encouraged to do so.”

Maurice M. Burke said that while he found the “song’s premise to be problematic”, “I think she is reaching (and even unfair) in her analysis”.

Adding to the debate, gender specialist Ms. Ann-Marie Williams, said that the song “tells us that as Caribbean people we have a lot of work to do in our homes, schools, communities, countries/islands and by extension our CARICOM region.”

She added that it was necessary to continue to speak out about a “culture of entitlement some men have over women’s bodies”.

“Part of changing that is also to support less dominant forms of masculinity which seeks to support women in achieving gender equality and equity for all,” she said.

Another point of view that resonated with other females was articulated by a reader with a gender background – who said that from an academic perspective, she understood where Hinds “was coming from”.  She said that her first thought upon hearing the song was that gender activists would protest. But she admitted that she loved the song, and highlighted that female empowerment was embodied in it. She drew attention to the fact that it was the woman who made all the decisive moves – from initiating the telephone conversation to ending the relationship over a meal that she had prepared, and removing his possessions.



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