Posted on August 14 2011
I am so glad you contextualized Rihanna’s carnival dancing in the wider culture of the Caribbean. I know this is off-topic, but I studied African history at Michigan State University under Nwando Achebe, the daughter of the great African writer Chinua Achebe. I took a study abroad trip to Jamaica where I used the historical archives at the University of the West Indies to study Queen Nanny, the former Ashanti queen who led her enslaved people to freedom in the mountains. While there I learned all about Caribbean attitudes toward sexuality. I knew from studying African history that female sexuality is celebrated in most West African cultures – not “degraded” as it often is in Western European cultures. I think white women like myself are quick to see any female doing anything remotely sexual as being “exploited” or “degraded” because of the ideas and references they themselves bring to the conversation. Since Western European culture is patriarchal, white women often tend to project that experience onto other cultures. As you show in this post, point-of-view is critical because people will always see a single action from a variety of perspectives, but it’s most important to consider the perspective of the person acting – in this case, Rihanna.
– Amy Creyer