American TV Host Stirs up Controversy about Women and Dancehall Music


anthony_bourdain3001_edit.jpgAnthony Bourdain of the Emmy nominated Travel Channel series, "No Reservations" has stirred up controversy with remarks he made about women and dancehall, on the Jamaican themed episode of his show.

"There's no rootsy, laid back Rasta vibe," he says. "This ain't about standing up for your rights or praising Jah or anything like that. Like Reggaeton, its mutant cousin, dancehall is the hardcore beat behind lyrics concerning for the most part: acquiring possessions, getting respect on the street, beating down perceived enemies and enjoying the physical charms of varied, if not multitudinous bitches."

Asked how she felt about Bourdain's statement, veteran dancehall reggae artiste, Nadine Sutherland says that she was offended but not angry at him as "...that is what is being perpetuated (by our music) so why is it a foreigner can't do it?"

Stahhr says that female artistes such as Lady Saw and Sasha use derogatory terms in their music when referring to other females. Sutherland has also acknowledged that demeaning terms such as 'sketel' and 'gyal' which is similar in meaning to bitch are used in dancehall music. Stahhr also says, "I guess its like the N-word ...some women feel the entiltlement to use it on each other."

Unlike Don Imus, who defended his remarks when he referred to the Rutgers basketball team as "Nappy Headed Hos" by pointing the blaming finger at Hip Hop. Stahhr says she will not "...blame a genre of music that hasn't existed for a century for a mentality that has existed for over a thousand."

Jason Walker, a 20 year Kingstonian, veteran of the dancehall fraternity and the host of WRFG - FM's Caribbean Runnings says that Bourdain "may not be a racist but comes from a racist place..." and is not equipped to tell the dancehall story. "His description does not make room for Buju Banton, Luciano, Tanya Stephens and... Nadine Sutherland."

Walker also goes on to say that when we look back at where our music is coming from there shouldn't be any derogatory comments...there needs to be honest discourse from people in the dancehall culture about the state of the music."

After the Imus controversy, rapper Chamilionaire and others publicly announced that they would be removing the N-word from their music. When asked if Bourdain's comments would spark a similar change in dancehall lyrics, Sutherland said "...someone (needs) to look at this at an individual level... and say: OK, this is wrong. I have been doing this by my lyrical content to the women of my culture and somebody repeating what I have...said and I don't feel comfortable as a person being disrespected." She, however is not optimistic that this change will take place, but she will pray about it. She is hopeful that Bourdain's comments will encourage all of us to look at ourselves and see some sense of shame.

Dancehall Reggae fans acknowledge that even though there is "slackness" in its lyrical content, there are also positive messages.