There is a misconception, probably due to the influence of American-dominated television, that the good old days in the West Indies involved matronly housewives being kept financially by hardworking men. While the culture still is strongly in favor of a man being able and willing to take care of his woman’s financial needs, the reality is that most women in the Caribbean are used to working, and they have been from before emancipation until today.
However, while women in the good old days played the submissive more often than not, today’s Caribbean woman occupies a spectrum of roles. From the conservative Traditional Woman to the Modern Mom, the wealthy Sugar Mama to the opportunistic Gold Digger and the influential, ‘keeps it all together and looks good doing it’ Power Player.
You’ll find a little of the Traditional Woman’s role in each of the others. You see, we remain a largely traditional community when it comes to women, and it seems that as much as our women have become leaders and champions in the outside world, they are still expected to remain subservient at home. Somehow if the woman stands up for certain rights or demands equal respect in every aspect, she isn’t looked at as confident and asserting her authority. Instead she is looked at as trying to be a man.
Of course, as outspoken and unabashed as I am, I’ve had that accusation hurled at me quite often. My response: If by that you mean I don’t want to be treated like a child or made to suffer things I am uncomfortable with in silence. That I want my opinion seriously acknowledged in my relationships and in business… then yes, I suppose I AM trying to be a man. (smile)
On the Power Player end of the spectrum, some women have found balance with strong men who are not intimidated by their partner’s success. Others like myself have decided to adhere to the wise words of the very astute Lady Gaga: “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”
To watch the extended perspective and much more on Caribbean America, set your DVR or tune in to each Sunday’s episode of The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly on SFL / The CW Network (Ch 39 / Comcast 11). Catch replays on the website at The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly.