I can’t tell you when wining became a national obsession.
At a media briefing on January 10, ASP Michael Jackman in response to a question about “tiefing a wine” at Carnival said, “Any physical touching where there is no consent with one of the parties involved is in fact unlawful and can be deemed an assault”. Many people interpreted that statement as the police trying to clamp down on their freedom to wine and there was a lot of comment from the public.
A friend who was listening to a radio programme while on the way to work recounted that the host said there were too many things going on in the country for the police to “be studying a small thing like that”.
He was indignant by the host’s attitude as well as the people calling in to complain about the police statement.
He said: “One man called in to the show and say he ready to sit down in the police station. How woman have to know that when they go fetes that they have to expect a small wine, and that they expect to because that is how they does dress…Then he say how he not talking about the tusty man, how them is another story but it’s different when everyone enjoying themselves and a man want to take a small wine on a bumper. Women should not have a problem with that”. Some other callers voiced their disagreement as well as the other host of the show.
A female friend said there should be no unwanted wining. “My body; my space: don’t touch.” She is adamant that ‘tiefing a wine’ is not part of our culture and remarked, “People always get vex with me for saying that”.
Some years ago I was walking through a J’Ouvert crowd on Frederick Street with my mother when I felt someone behind me. A glance back and a cut-eye didn’t work. He came again. Some men feel they MUST wine on you even without your consent, and some will verbally abuse the female when they feel rejected. The reality of today’s scenario is underage males and females falling prey to this attention.
During the Carnival season and particularly during the parade of the bands people from all strata mingle. There is camaraderie among masqueraders and spectators enjoying the music and moving lime.
The relaxation of social rules of engagement means that persons approach others, feeling at ease to take a wine. As one song says “she could be lawyer or judge…” Under normal circumstances they may not have a chance. Add all day alcohol consumption into the mix and who can say how an encounter will play out.
On a Carnival Tuesday afternoon a group of friends and I were dancing along with the band as it moved along St Clair Avenue. A man whose drifting gait suggested intoxication tried to dance on a female friend, then not getting through was seen moving close to a male friend. It seems he was willing to wine on anybody!
There are females and males who enjoy showing off how good they are at wining; it is a competition to outdo each other in “getting on bad”. Patrons at fetes are invited on stage to show their agility and spectators are invited to choose who can wine best.
When we consider how many songs are written about wining over the past years, is it any wonder that after so much repetition a mindset has been inculcated?
Part of this is the entitlement of the man on the talk show; women have to expect a wine and women are encouraged to showcase themselves even if their attention-grabbing antics leave them stigmatised as vulgar. Why do so many soca songs continue to adulate the female only in relation to body parts and how good she can wine?
The discourse generated about wining hardly delves into public morality, male/female relations, sexuality, self-control, respect, women vying for male attention, male expectation of women’s behaviour and vice versa.
Who sets the norms when the scenes reflected at Carnival makes us cringe?
In our usual manner of avoiding deep discussion which may require us to examine why we do the things we do or say the things we say, the consent and wining is turned into a joke with people creating permission forms. There was a meme with a man kneeling, his posture almost pleading, watching a woman wining with her legs splayed. The caption read something like: I ready to take ah jail.
There is the view that Christians should not participate in Carnival; through this lens, the festival is excess and debauchery seen in gyrating, scantily dressed, intoxicated masqueraders. Another lens will see the creativity and beauty in the music and costumes, the good fun and companionship among people even strangers dancing without undue embarrassment of themselves or their families.
The entire discussion with regard to Carnival begs the question: Would we have a more moral society without Carnival? – Lara Pickford-Gordon