Trigger Warning: This post deals with a sensitive topic. It covers consent, rape culture, victim blaming and a raft of other unpleasant issues that need to be addressed. There is also some harsh language, but no more, or less, than we feel is necessary. Once again, we are about to delve into some unsettling shit. We apologise for upsetting you, but these things need to be said.   Trinidad & Tobago can be a confusing and deeply conflicted place. The love/hate relationship that we have with ourselves is the stuff of therapists’ wet dreams. When your country’s most popular podcasts consist of DJ’s and pastors, said country may have some deep-rooted issues that need working out. podcast list

(Dutty wine for Jesus?)

Well, this Carnival, some of those issues reared their ugly head in spectacular fashion. A Japanese mas-player and pan enthusiast, Asami Nagakiya, was found murdered around the Savannah on Ash Wednesday. The then-mayor of Port-of-Spain, Raymond Tim Kee, had this to say on being asked to comment about the case: “Women have a responsibility to ensure they are not abused during the Carnival season. It's a matter of, if she was still in her costume - I think that's what I heard - let your imagination roll". By the time jaws were picked up off the floor, and the brouhaha had (somewhat) died down, Port of Spain had a new mayor, and the feminist group Womantra was cast as a contemptible collection of conniving witches who are in desperate need of some penis in their lives. Meanwhile, Mr Tim Kee rode off into the sunset, on the back of a groundswell of misguided support. That support is where the problem, and our conflict lies. Victim blaming, also known as the idea that Asami Nagakiya got what was coming to her, through the fault of her wearing a Carnival costume, is not unique to Raymond Tim Kee. Hell, it isn’t even that unpopular. The notion that an abused woman is often responsible for her own abuse is still quite prevalent in Trinidad & Tobago. Rape victims are drilled on their actions leading up to their violation, with a focus on what preventative measures they could have taken to avoid or prevent the attack. Sexual violence is still jokingly referenced as a means of controlling women. Sometimes, it is even advocated by women. Victim blaming is rape culture at its most insidious. What is “rape culture” you ask? Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970's. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized sexual violence against women. Rape culture is saying that, “well, she was dressed like a hoe, and acting like a hoe, so we can't be too surprised that she got what hoes sometimes get.” Or, to use Raymond Tim Kee's words again, “Women have a responsibility to ensure they are not abused during the Carnival season.". Rape culture can be difficult to combat, because it can come disguised as little truisms which are meant to protect women. How many times have we heard a woman be told that a manner of dress or conduct isn’t “classy”? Once? Twice? A million times? Sounds like it makes sense, right? “You need to protect yourself!”, you might say. Here is the thing though: a person’s sense of decorum has yet to keep them from being sexually assaulted. If it did, you would never hear of a nun being rapedfierce kittens

(Here is a pic of kittens being fierce, if you choose to click on that link up there. You’re gonna need it.)

See, the fallacy that rape culture spreads is that women are both responsible for their conduct, and the conduct of their attacker. It is the ultimate strawman fallacy. And we need to fight it. The #NotAskingForIt campaign, by St. Lucian photographer Fiona Compton, is a step down the road of education and spreading awareness about rape culture. She has taken videos of women wining in their carnival costumes, and immediately juxtaposes next to a second video of the same women elaborating on themselves, and their hopes and dreams. The message is simple. It is not a case of either or. The celebration of their sexuality does not come at the cost of their humanity. The celebration of that sexuality does not manifest itself as an open invitation for sex with any and all comers either. To wit, they are not asking for it. It is wishful thinking to assume that we can simply reverse the attitudes that are pervasive in rape culture. It isn’t that easy. It becomes doubly difficult in a society that places such a heavy premium on the unusual fetishization of women around Carnival time. That is the conflict to which I alluded at the beginning of this piece. That attitude is what attempted to relegate the death of Asami, and the countless others like her, to mere footnote status. And that attitude will continue to leave us conflicted and confused, unless we start taking steps to end it.  
Triniyute is not an actual writer, though his love for life, liquor and liming is genuine. If you wish to contact with gifts of alcohol, or just your thoughts, he can be found at trinidadcarnivals@gmail.com. Or check him out his Twitter account @triniyute. For additional information: http://www.notaskingforit.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/notaskingforitofficial/