Dirty Reggae

I’ve been listening to some old-school reggae lately: The Ethiopians’ “Reggae Hit the Town,” Dave & Ansel Collins’ “Double Barrel,” Niney the Observer’s “Blood & Fire,” Jacob Miller’s “Tenement Yard,” and Althia & Donna’s “Uptown Top Ranking.” In fact, I fancy myself a bit of a Jamaicophile. I love everything about the country, culture, and people – with the exception, of course, of the corruption, misogyny, and homophobia.

Which brings me to another song I’ve been listening to a lot lately: Max Romeo’s “Wet Dream.” I’ve heard the song countless times, but I guess I never really paid attention to the lyrics:

Every night me go to sleep, me have wet dreams
Every night me go to sleep, me have wet dreams

Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down
Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down
Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down
Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down

You in your small corner, I stand in mine
Throw all the punch you want to, I can take them all

Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down
Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down

Look how you’re big and fat, like a big, big shot
Give the crumpet to Big Foot Joe, give the fanny to me

Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down
Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down
Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down
Lie down girl let me push it up, push it up, lie down

The song, released in 1968, immediately caused controversy and was banned from the radio in England. Years later, Romeo tried to claim it was innocent, that he was only singing about a leaky roof. With an explanation like that, it sounds to me like he’s angling for a job in the Trump administration.

But let’s break it down, shall we? First of all, the title and opening stanza is clearly about involuntary nocturnal emissions, which are commonly referred to as “wet dreams.” Romeo was already 24 at the time, so I’m not sure why he would be singing about an embarrassing moment that most males experience only during adolescence.

But as we skip along into the second stanza, we discover that his solution for the problem is to get a girl to “lie down,” so he can “push it up.” Now don’t get hung up on the directions here. Jamaicans tend to have a different take on these things. For example, if the patio is too hot on a summer afternoon for the children’s bare feet, an American might ask you to wet down the patio whereas a Jamaican would likely ask you to wet up the patio.

So, in asking her to “lie down” so he can “push it up,” I think it’s clear that Romeo is suggesting that this girl engage in sexual intercourse with him, as a cure for his wet dreams. Which technically makes sense, because scratching tends to relieve the itch, so to speak. And, for what it’s worth, if he can leverage his persistent wet dreams as a means of convincing someone to have sex with him, then the man deserves some credit, for that’s a very unorthodox angle of seduction.

But then things get a bit, well, rapey. Romeo sings about how this girl is fighting back, throwing punches. Clearly the seduction did not work. And if a woman is indeed throwing punches as a man tries to engage in intimate relations with her, then his sexual advances constitute rape. And, no, my friend, that ain’t cool.

On top of that, the song goes on to insult and mock this girl, calling her big and fat (though, honestly, now I’m starting to feel guilty for assuming that “big” and “fat” are insults). And then, as if that weren’t enough, he suggest what seems to be a ménage à trois, encouraging the girl to let “Big Foot Joe” have vaginal intercourse with her while he penetrates her “fanny.” And, yes, overlooking the semen-stained sheets, rape, misogyny, and a threesome with Big Foot Joe, the English censors ended up banning the song because it references anal sex.

Still, I gotta say, I really like the song. And yet I’m struggling to come to terms with its lyrics. Is this a case in which, like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the author is merely portraying someone with flaws, or is this more like The Birth of a Nation, in which the author is intentionally celebrating and promoting these flaws?

Only Big Foot Joe may know for sure.

One of Charlie’s Angels Was Raped

caBefore America hit rock bottom in the early morning hours of November 9th, 2016, I had planned to post a tongue-in-cheek Thought of the Day segment on slut shaming this week. It read:

If I were to start a non-profit dedicated to combating slut shaming, would I be a bad person if my underlying motive was to encourage women to be more promiscuous? What if I was also motivated by the likelihood of meeting and befriending such women as part of this effort? And isn’t slut shaming just sexism masked by false morality? After all, what they’re really telling women is that they shouldn’t behave like men.

But putting the posterchild for modern misogyny in the Oval Office changed all of that. And not just because a lot of Americans refused to vote for Hillary Clinton simply because she has a vagina, but also because so many of them voted for a man who clearly considers women to be second-class humans.

Does this mean that gender equality is only a coastal concern in America, with much of the population quite happy to tell the ladies to shut up and get back in the kitchen? Does America need a Female Rights Matter movement?

One in Three
Did you know that one in three women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime? That’s according to the World Health Organization. Isn’t that absolutely horrifying? Appalling? Sickening?

As a man, it’s hard to come to terms with that. Men are rarely the victims of such attacks. Yet we surely are the perpetrators of most of them.

Where is our outrage? As a man, shouldn’t I be overcome with anger and guilt that my gender is responsible for this? Yes, I am. Shouldn’t the shame alone make me want to do something to address this? Yes, it does.

Sorry, Charlie
I feel obligated to note that, at least to my knowledge, none of Charlie’s Angels were ever victims of sexual assault (though a number of them did portray a victim in various films, plays, etc.). I should also note that the World Health Organization data I cited is worldwide.

Here in America, one out of every six women is a victim of sexual assault. Still sickening? Hell yes. Though if an American woman has the courage to serve her country as a member of our armed forces, one out of every three service women are victims. And, for what it’s worth, one out of every 33 American men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, which is equally shocking.

The War on Women
Where is our outrage as a species? Where is our outrage as a nation? They say that one in ten Americans is addicted to alcohol or some other drug, and apparently that was enough for us to declare a war. Hell, we’ve had several sitting Presidents claim that drugs were the biggest domestic threat to our nation. Yet women are far more likely to be the victims of sexual assault than anyone is of becoming a victim of chemical dependency – a whopping 23 percent more likely.

But the history of this War on Drugs reveals why there is so little action or even outrage about sexual assault…this unspoken War on Women, the longest running war in human history. The real reason our government declared war on drugs was to try to control and suppress political dissent. The initial targets were the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 60s and 70s. And since many of them smoked marijuana at the time, it was seen as a great way to incarcerate and control them.

But since then, the law enforcement and correctional systems have become a business unto themselves, with strong lobbyists ensuring that we continue this arcane charade. It has helped militarize local law enforcement and keep our prisons filled with the poor and underprivileged, many of which are minorities.

Perhaps even more important to the people in power, the War on Drugs offers a convenient scapegoat for the rest of our society’s short-comings, ensuring that corrupt and inept politicians and policies face less scrutiny. After all, as long as they keep us focused on drugs as society’s bogeyman, we’ll be too worried to worry about the rest of our problems – as many as there are. And with our new Misogynist-in-Chief, there is little hope that any of this will change…except for the worse.

As a man, I feel angry, horrified, and helpless. Nearly every man has at least three women in their life: a mother and perhaps a sister, wife, or daughter. One of those three women are likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Where is the outrage? Where is the War on Sexual Assault? Where is our War on Gender Injustice?