Friday, June 29, 2007

Stella Says…Madam Minister, you need to enforce the enforcers to enforce the law

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 29 June 2007)

Priya Manickchand is on the move again. A press release from the local Government Is Not Accountable chapter (GINA) gave us the good news this week that according to Human Services Minister Priya Manickchand, we should soon see some new regulations to amend the 1996 Domestic Violence Act.

Bravo, Priya! Bravo!

Although the former legislation seemed quite comprehensive, one can certainly understand the assumption that something must be wrong with it since women continue to get beat to a pulp and murdered by men who supposedly care about them.

Hey, I’d rather see the government at least attempt to do something about this ongoing problem rather than ignore it as if it is not really there (like the crime situation). I simply cannot wait to see what good ol’ Poised and Proper Priya has up her sleeve to protect the women of Guyana.

Priya, sweetheart, I know we haven’t talked in quite a while. I do apologise, but I’ve just been so busy of late. I know you are wrapping up those new regulations on the Domestic Violence Act, but I do have a suggestion or two – if you can spare just a couple of minutes.

When I moved into my new home in south central Texas last July, I was quite a bit upset at the high rate of domestic abuse in the area. Which is why I was thrilled when the local police department implemented a new policy concerning domestic abusers in March of this year.

The new policy gave local police the mandate to arrest a domestic abuser on the spot when they enter a home where abuse is evident. Before this new policy, there was a long tedious process that could have taken weeks before the abuser was arrested, but now the police are required to find the abuser as quickly as possible and arrest him.

Sadly, this new policy was brought about because of a man who killed his wife and then killed himself. The wife had called the police earlier and told them the husband had tried to shoot her. The man was nowhere around at the time of the first police response. The wife was dead on the second response.

Now I know the police in Guyana are doing their best to protect the women, but I have heard stories, Priya, and they are not very good. I’m sure you have heard the same stories of women going to the police for help and subsequently being told to “go on home to your husband and make up with him.”

Now you and I both know, Priya, that if a woman is going to go to the police station for help because she is afraid of her partner – she really, really, really needs some help. So for the police to dismiss her request and send her back to a dangerous situation – well, in my eyes the police become part of the problem.

I’ve also heard stories about how these abuse victims – when they are not sent back home - are further victimised at the police station and made to feel like they must have done something to provoke the violence or like they are wasting the time of the police officers.

Now Priya, in light of this information, I cannot help but wonder if it is the Domestic Violence Act that needs to be fixed – or if it is those entrusted with enforcing that law and protecting these women. Maybe it is a little of both.

Perhaps if the police adapted a new policy of arrest immediately when it is apparent that abuse is occurring, then a lot fewer women would be dying every week in Guyana. I know, I know – this would intensify the overcrowding situation in the prison system, but at least the women would be alive.

Ooh, I have an idea. If Guyana built a prison just for these wife beaters and child abusers, and put them all in one building, then they could beat up on each other all they wanted and get a good taste of what their families had to deal with while living with their violent conduct.

Okay, that might be a little extreme. Here is an idea that might be a little more palatable for your political taste. Perhaps you could provide a hotline that women could call to report police officers who do not treat their abusive situation with the proper sensitivity and rapid response.

In case you have not notice, Poised and Proper Priya, I am trying to point out that unless your new National Policy on Domestic Violence and your new National Plan of Action includes a way to enforce the enforcers to enforce the laws, it will make no difference to the women of Guyana.

You can amend laws day and night for the next five years and implement policies until the cows come home, but if those who are suppose to protect the women and children just laugh in their faces when they need help – all of your work is for naught.

When the police realise that domestic abusers are nothing more than terrorists in their own homes, when the law enforcers comprehend that women are not suppose to be beat senseless just to appease the male ego, when the protectors of society start acting like they are going to protect society – that is when your amendments and policies will mean something.

Now Priya, dear, I hope you don’t take our little talk the wrong way. I do appreciate what you are trying to do for the women of Guyana. I am only pointing out the obvious because we cannot live in a fantasy world and pretend these things do not exist while women are dying.

On another topic altogether, I just love your hair, girl.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stella Says…There is a measuring stick for the nation’s future equality

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 27 June 2007)

While visiting a bookstore recently, I picked up Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s book, The Social Contract, and I stumbled upon a phrase that caught my eye. It was just a footnote at the end of a chapter, but it spoke volumes about how I interpret government at this point in my life.

This philosopher felt it was important for the people of a society to come together and create a social pact that would become law. It was then the responsibility of the government – a group of citizens chosen by the people – to implement and enforce the general will of the people comprised in the social pact.

In order to cite the footnote that caught my eye, it is first necessary to quote the text to which it was linked in the original passage. Rousseau said, “I shall end this chapter…with an observation which might serve as a basis for the whole social system: namely, that the social pact, far from destroying natural equality, substitutes, on the contrary, a moral and lawful equality for whatever physical inequality that nature may have imposed on mankind: so that however unequal in strength and intelligence, men become equal by covenant and right.”

This is one of the primary reasons we have national constitutions, so that we are all bound by the same premise that each person in society is protected by a national agreement that affords equality to all regardless of race, gender, financial status, intellectual prowess, physical strength, etc. This concept, at face value, is one of the better ideologies of governmental systems in existence today.

However, the footnote that caught my eye offered the flip-side perspective on this social contractual agreement among citizens. It said, “Under a bad government, this equality is only an appearance and an illusion; it serves only to keep the poor in their wretchedness and sustain the rich in their usurpation.”

Just this first line alone made my mind whirl with thoughts of the various bad governments in our world today including America and Guyana. Rousseau’s words on this matter seem to ring true if we examine the corrupt practices of our governments.

I live in the US and I need only watch the news for ten brief minutes to learn of yet one more government official who has been made richer by the money of the rest of us. The latest example is the now former U.S. deputy secretary of state Paul Wolfowitz, who even used his position to give his girlfriend hefty pay raises.

In Guyana, there can be no doubt of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Bribery, corruption and back room deals now run the governmental system – and sadly, even the judicial system.

In such circumstances as these, the equality promised by the social contract – the national Constitution – is only an “appearance and an illusion.” This situation perpetuates an unequal system and promotes the continuation of an oppressive and corrupt government.

As if that was not bad enough, the footnote continued, “In truth, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing; from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all possess something and none has too much.”

I have always found it highly entertaining and quite ironic that the same PPP that proudly professes its supposed communist principles are the same persons who flaunt their wealthy lifestyles – which puts them far above the financial bracket of the average Guyanese.

For America, Bush and his cronies will be out of office in the next elections. His party does not stand a chance of winning the presidential seat. At this point, it seems America would rather put a woman or an African-American man in the White House (neither of whom have been president in America’s history) before they let another Republican ruin the country for four more years.

I cannot help but wonder about what the Guyanese people will do if they are presented with the chance to make such a drastic change in the next national elections. I truly believed this change could have come in the last elections. I was sorely wrong.

Currently, some places in the nation have wonderful new streets and other places have cratered roads that destroy their cars. Some places have water and electricity and other places do not – or only have it sparingly. Some places have a multitude of choices when it comes to television programming and others have been stripped of those choices for unknown reasons.

I am no oracle, but even from thousands of miles away I can see a dark cloud descending on Guyana. It seems there is a foreboding shadow on the horizon that can only be averted by a genuine application of the nation’s social contract by those who have been ensured with the implementation and enforcement of the citizens’ general will.

As much as my heart goes out to the people of Guyana, the current government is in office for one reason – because the citizens of this nation put it there. What can be said when the people knowingly choose to retain an incompetent government? America did it in the last presidential elections too and look where it has got them - more corruption and made to look like fools in the international community.

If this statement is true, “In truth, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing; from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all possess something and none has too much,” then all that is necessary to promote lawlessness is a continued state of poverty for the general population.

At this point, one must ask what is being done to promote the financial success of the general population. One must also ask what is being done to discourage the financial success of the general population. The answer to these questions will provide us with a clear motive of any nation’s leaders and present a measuring stick of equality for the future.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stella Says…The Pope has issued Ten more Commandments (Watch out Moses!)

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 24 June 2007)

On Thursday this newspaper published an article about how the Police Traffic Department will be clamping down on motorists who use their horns indiscriminately. On Friday, Stabroek News published an editorial about steps being taken to improve road safety and to address excessive speeding.

This is all very good news and comes to us just as the Pope has decided to do what he can to improve the global driving experience. The Vatican has released a new set of Ten Commandments specifically designed for drivers. God help us all.

I do not begrudge the Catholic Church its place of leadership in the world. Nor do I think it is necessarily a bad thing for the Vatican to encourage good driving habits. It’s just that I hate to see yet one more set of dogma that must be followed if I do not wish to see the searing hot flames of hell.

Let’s face it - if I ever stood a chance of seeing paradise, I lost it the day I decided to stop being a submissive woman. Almost all the world religions nowadays require a woman to be docile and quick to obey her godlike man. Since I have evolved beyond the need for such teachings, I suppose I can give up on seeing those pearly gates.

But now there are yet more rules and regulations to catch me tripping up – and in the one place I thought I was safe – my car. Is there no place left untouched by religion? I suppose it is a good thing that I gave up trying or I just might be a tad worried about my immortal soul.

Here is a list of the Drivers Ten Commandments as listed by CNN World (and my commentary, of course):

1. You shall not kill. (I thought this one was already taken)

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm. (Does that mean I must detach the new fire-shooting gun from the roof of my car?)

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. (So I shouldn’t get spitting angry when I run out of gas or when I get a damn flat tire?)

4. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents. (I cannot help but wonder how many times the Pope-mobile has stopped to help roadside victims.)

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin. (Not even on days when I like to dress in all black and wear my patent leather power boots? Man, they just want to take away all of my fun.)

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so. (The “not so young”? Oh, they mean Freddie.)

7. Support the families of accident victims. (So they don’t hunt down that drunk driver with their own expressions of power and domination.)

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness. (I love the wording of this one – “at the appropriate time.” If this is done too early, there might be even more forgiveness required and more confessions to be made.)

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party. (Like the pedestrians!)

10. Feel responsible toward others. (Okay, so I am my brother’s keeper then. I wish they would make up their minds.)

In all seriousness, I do think the last time I prayed was on my way from the Cheddi Jagan Int. airport to Georgetown during a visit to Guyana. If I ever wanted a god to exist – it was then. It was even scarier than driving in circles up a mountain in the dark in Guatemala in a tiny car piled high with suitcases on top – in the rain with no windshield wipers or guardrails on the side of the road.

Here is a quote from the aforementioned Stabroek News editorial, “Speaking at the relaunching of the National Road Safety Council in May last year, Guyana Police Force Chief Traffic Officer Mr Roland Alleyne disclosed that there had been 1,883 deaths as a result of accidents on the roadways in the period 1995-2006, an average rate of more than three per week for over eleven years!”

Note the use of an exclamation point at the end of that quote. Journalists use this punctuation mark very, very seldom. It is reserved for only the rare occasions when the writer is attempting to make an extremely important point. Perhaps the reader would like to take the time to read that quote again.

I am not sure if the Driver’s Ten Commandments will help to reduce the number of deaths on the roadways of Guyana. The Vatican’s document also suggested citing the Rosary while driving since its rhythm will not distract the driver from the road. If it helps some people, I say go for it.

For this sinner, I have been driving for well over two decades without one accident. I am always courteous to other drivers and I am far too careful to allow car to run out of gas. I think I am doing just fine without the Vatican’s help. However, I do wonder if they could offer us some advice on how to overcome the sexism still so prevalent in the world?

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Friday, June 22, 2007

Stella Says…It is time to lose those rude and unseemly employees

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 22 June 2007)

If all the letters and columns about bad customer service from the past five years were thrown in a pile, I have to wonder if the lady who takes my money at my own local store would be able to jump over it.

I have to be honest and admit from the start that this is one of my pet peeves. I abhor bad customer service. My feelings come from the most surprising place – experience. If I ever had one job in my life that I enjoyed more than writing, it would be working as a Customer Service Manager (CSM) for Wal-Mart.

Before taking this position, I had never really given customer service a second thought. It simply never occurred to me that it was the job of the local fast food joint to dole out good customer service with their food.

However, when I took a job with Wal-Mart to make a little extra money years ago when my children were young, I learnt what real customer service is suppose to look like. Regardless of all the bad press that this global retail store gets, it truly attempts to be as customer friendly as possible. This is where my role came in as a CSM.

In my particular store, there could be over 20 cashiers at any time during a normal day – all of which I was responsible. During holidays, this number could double. However, my primary responsibility was to deal with the customers – the happy ones as well as those who were irate.

Wal-Mart had one policy when it came to its patrons, “The customer is ALWAYS right.” This meant that whatever complaint a shopper brought to me, it was my job to resolve it in a manner that would make sure that person returned the next week to shop at our store again.

Moreover, I was to get this job done with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. Problem solving is one of my finer assets and being around all of the people with the constant hum of chatter was simply exhilarating, so it was not a chore to do this job everyday.

There were rare occasions when I would encounter a very mean person who was not going to be happy even if I moved heaven and earth. On those days, I would still do the same job and grab a nice chocolate treat to ease the nerves. I gave 110 percent to my job as a CSM and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.

This is why I am so picky when it comes to the customer service I receive from others now. I have gone through the checkout lane at grocery stores on more than one occasion when not one word was spoken to me. Not even the amount of the purchase! I had to look at the register to see how much I owed. This is absolutely intolerable.

One person felt the same way about the customer service received this week after visiting the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) office at Camp and Bent Streets. When it was this client’s turn for service, the company’s representatives laughed at this person for not hearing the name being called from behind the door. This alone is simply unacceptable behaviour.

It got worse though. The patron, Mahendra Persaud, wrote in a letter to Kaieteur News this past week, “As I tried to explain to the female worker why I couldn't hear her repeated calling of my name, she became angry and irritable, ranting and raving. Her ostentation, lack of proper reasoning and failure to be a good listener made me quit my explanation."

If this were one of my cashiers at Wal-Mart, I would have fired this person on the spot. In fact, the entire office would have felt my wrath for being so disrespectful to a client. It is utterly shameful that this whole office behaved in such a manner toward a customer.

This was how the customer felt about the situation, “That was indeed an embarrassing and time-wasting situation for me, which at the same time showed the female worker's immaturity, incompetence, ignorance and arrogance to effectively deal with a simple problem.”

When I was the one overseeing so many service providers, they knew I expected no less of a performance from them than I gave to the customers myself. I expected the best customer service from them because I gave the best.

Nothing has changed for me even though I have not worked in customer service for over a decade. I still expect the best customer service. I absolutely refuse to spend my money somewhere that treats me with anything less than the same respect I give to the people I encounter every day.

Proper decorum in places of business is essential if they want return customers (and word of mouth customers). When I receive bad customer service, not only will I not return to that establishment again, but I will also tell others to follow suit. A single disrespectful employee can lose a lot of money for her/his employer.

Likewise, a pleasant and helpful customer representative will encourage me to return and to tell others to patronise that establishment as well. A good product will only go so far if a business has representatives such as those encountered by Mahendra Persaud at that NIS office.

Customers are doing a business a favour by gracing that establishment. There are other places that customer could have gone to spend money, but she/he chose that business. Is it too much to expect a smile, pleasant service and a “thank you for your business” as the customer leaves?

If a business cannot offer at least that much, then it does not deserve to be patronised at all. After all, there are plenty of people who need jobs right now and would be happy to offer good service to the customers.

It is time for restaurants, stores, businesses and government offices to lose those rude and unseemly employees and replace them with people who would appreciate the job and the customer - and who realise that without the customer there is no job.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Stella Says…Here is what I think about celebrity gossip, Cosmo Magazine and the Guyana Media Critic

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 20 June 2007)

So what if Paris Hilton has to spend 24 days in jail? So what if Angelina Jolie may be pregnant again? So what if the Princes of England are all grown up and can finally talk to the public without an escort? So Fidel Castro is now wearing a tracksuit instead of his trademark camouflage uniform. So what?

So Tiger Woods had a baby. So what. So what if the first couple of France’s Socialist party is splitting up? So what if they have put a revolving door on rehab centres for the stars of Hollywood? Do we really care that the President and his wife are getting a divorce? On second thought, maybe we do care about that.

So what if rumours say Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai will play a part in the new US television series, Heroes? So what if Harry Potter and his sidekicks get to meet the Queen? So what if Julia Roberts just had baby number three? Do I really care about any of this stuff? Do you really care? Will any of this information make a difference in our lives?

What difference does any of this information really make for the average women and men of the world? The charmed life of the rich and famous is nothing but a distant dream for those in Darfur struggling just to stay alive.

All of this constant chatter about how poor Paris Hilton cannot handle 24 days of prison is nauseating to me when thousands have died in Bush’s war on Iraq. Will someone please tell me how these frivolous details of the lives of the stars help the rest of us in any way at all? I have had my full of frivolity.

I ran across the latest Cosmopolitan Magazine the other day and was insulted by the captions on the front page. “The Girlfriend Habit That He’ll Love You More For.” “Secrets of Male Arousal.” “What Even Experienced Chicks Forget to Do in Bed.”

Who are they calling a chick?

I did not waste my time by opening this magazine. I am more of a newspaper type of girl. However, I have lived long enough to know that particular Cosmo (like all the rest) would have been chocked full of makeup tips, fashion advice and tons of advertisements. I was offended that Cosmo thought I cared about this shallowness at all.

I understand that I am probably not the target audience for this magazine, but I have daughters who are and it is just as offensive that Cosmo thinks they are so shallow. Is that all they think women care about in life - sex and fashion?

Allow me to correct myself; it was not sex being promoted on the front page of that Cosmo. It was all about how to please the man. There was nothing at all about how to have a mutually satisfying sexual experience. And here I thought this was the 21st century.

While we are on the subject of frivolity, let’s talk about the Guyana Media Critic. You just have to love this guy. He goes after the press like my cat goes after bugs in the backyard. GMC pounces on his unsuspecting victim and eats them alive.

I like it when he points out the obvious - like how a man apparently died from a stab wound to the thigh recently. I was wondering the same thing when I read that article. GMC is obviously a pro in the communications field and the leadership role he has taken in Guyana is admirable.

However, his latest attempt at becoming the next Hugh Hefner by posting photos of women on his blog is disturbing. Mind you, these women all had clothes on (barely), but it was a showcase of female flesh for hungry male eyes nonetheless. After all, why should any woman be viewed as anything more – eh, GMC?

This is a person I have grown to respect over time for his insight into Guyana’s media industry, but how on earth can I take him seriously when he post those types of photos on a blog that has up to the start of June been dedicated to promoting good journalism and addressing other media related issues.

On June 2, he posted a “Chick of The Week” photo. (Did he call that woman a chick?) I had hoped this was just an anomaly since GMC had never shown any signs of objectifying women before on his blog. Then he went and posted a myriad of photos of women again on June 16. Aren’t we just so lucky?

As if Guyana (and the world) needed one more avenue by which to objectify women. Frivolity and shallowness abound and the Guyana Media Critic has now lowered himself to the ranks of Cosmo and other such frivolous entertainment magazines. Congratulations, GMC.

My request to GMC, Cosmo and all those other pushers of superficiality is that you give us something worth our time. We simply do not care about the frivolity. We have enough of that rubbish pushed at us on a constant basis. We need something that is substantial and something that can make a difference in our world.

I did not waste my time by opening that Cosmo the other day. I do not watch the entertainment shows to learn about the latest celebrity gossip. I would hate to have to remove GMC from the bookmarks list on my computer, but if he has nothing better to offer his readers than “Chick of the Week,” then he doesn’t deserve a reserved space on anyone’s computer.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Stella Says…Should a man be able to demand sex from “his woman” anytime he wants?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 17 June 2007)

To some the question of whether a woman should meekly oblige her husband with sex without any protest might seem redundant since in today’s day and age this type of thinking simply should not exist.

However, I come from a very traditional background and I know this thinking does still exist within pockets of our culture. In my column from this past Wednesday I addressed the issue of obedience being required from women by certain types of men under the threat of violence if it is not obtained.

Today I am addressing this idea that sex should be expected from the wife and willingly given - even if she does not want it. It is after talking to a few people and after reading Sweet and Sensitive Freddie’s column on wife-killing and wife-beating that I felt the need to address some of these traditional thoughts that still permeate society.

Allow me to make it clear that I do not desire to invoke some sort of battle of the sexes. It is not my goal to separate the two genders, but to bring them together in a spirit of better understanding and equality.

I do not wish to replace the current patriarchal system (a form of social organization in which the male is the family head and title is traced through the male line) with the former matriarchal system (A society or political/social system in which women hold the power) that existed for thousands of years during much of the Neolithic and pre-historic times.

It is my opinion that one gender should not be in power over the other gender at all, but that both genders should lead the world together in unison and equality. I do not believe this merging of the genders will bring any type of utopian society, but it seems to me that when we see both men and women come together to work on the pressing issues facing the world, this is also when we will see humanity at its best.

Which is why I feel obligated to poke holes into the traditional thought that still lingers in regards to the treatment of women. This is why it is necessary to tell women that they are not obligated to obey men anymore. This is also why topics like obligatory sex must be broached in order to dispel the long-standing notions of male superiority.

And so the question at hand is whether a woman should feel obligated to provide sex for her husband at anytime he requests it. The answer, of course, is an emphatic no. Sex is a human act that should be enjoyed by both genders and if both genders do no enjoy the act, then it simply should not happen.

In fact, sex should not be about satisfying just one person while the other lies flat and watches. When the act is done right, both partners are satisfied during sex and no one feels used or abused. This is the beauty of the physical union of male and female.

Putting aside those silly notions most of our parents believed such as proper women should not enjoy sex or desire sex, we all know that in reality women are sexual beings just like men. Women desire sex and think about sex often – just like men.

Therefore, when it is time to have sex, why on earth would any woman decide that she should be a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am instead of a willing participant of mutually enjoyable act? Selfish partners are such an annoyance, but if you have a man who does not satisfy you sexually, then it is he who needs a lesson or two in this area.

Truth be told, if a man wants frequent sex, then he needs to learn how to effectively seduce his lady – and trust me, women love to be seduced. A little touching here and there, some nice whispers in the ear and a few soft kisses on the neck will go a long way with most women.

Yet some men are so dense that they think they have a right to just walk up and demand sex on the spot. Women do not respond to such demands very well and even if she gives into his demands she will probably feel used when the act is finished – especially if he did not have the common sense or desire to satisfy her.

Old school thought was that sex should be done merely for producing children. We are far past that point in society. Yet this idea that women should be sex toys for men still lingers. What is so ironic about this notion is that when men have an orgasm, they release sperm for reproduction.

This is not true about female orgasms. There is no biological function for the female orgasm in reproduction. Therefore, when a man has an orgasm, it is biologically for the ongoing advancement of our species. However, when a woman has an orgasm – it is for nothing more than her enjoyment.

One could easily deduce from what science currently knows about the male and female orgasms that men are the ones with a function to perform and women are just suppose to enjoy the whole process. Of course, I do not believe either gender should forego the enjoyment of sex, but I simply wanted to point out the obvious.

To answer the question at hand, if a man wants to have frequent sex then he must understand that women are not on earth merely to serve as his plaything. Women are not sex slaves, they are human beings just like men and have needs and desires to be fulfilled just like men.

There are far too many big-headed men walking around thinking they know everything about sex when they do not even know how to take the time to satisfy their own women. There are some who do not care about satisfying their women at all as long as the man is satisfied. Leave these types alone completely – they are not worth a woman’s time.

In short, ladies, the next time your guy has the gall to demand sex without any thought to your feelings on the matter – show him where to find a cold shower and afterwards have a long talk with him about how to please you. Before long you will both be walking around with big smiles on your faces.

Just imagine a world where both the men and the women are sexually satisfied. Gender equality may actually usher in utopia after all.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Friday, June 15, 2007

Stella Says…Will someone please give these people a new road!

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 15 June 2007)

The situation with the road in East Canje has come to the point that President Jagdeo, the Regional Administration, the Works Ministry and the entire government system should be sorely embarrassed that these people have to beg and plea for someone to take them seriously.

I have never been to East Canje. In fact, I tried to look it up on various Guyanese maps and could not find it. I do not know their general political leaning or any of the other factors that sadly play a part in the political decisions made by the ruling party. However, none of this matters one iota because these people are Guyanese citizens.

Seriously now, this disconcerting situation is to a point that now borders something akin to child abuse. If a parent neglected a child the way this community has been neglected by its government, that parent would face strict punishment by the judicial system – possibly even jail.

In the same way, the people of East Canje must watch as the rest of the nation has been spruced up and brought into the 21st century within the last few months while they still cannot even drive to their own homes without tearing up their cars.

They also took notice earlier this month when they learned that residents in the Upper Corentyne would be receiving two water treatment plants while they still drank dirty water.

East Canje resident, Goomattie Kumar, wrote a letter to Kaieteur News on June 2 stating, “I was shocked to learn that the Upper Corentyne would be having two water treatment plants. Yes, Mr President, you have demonstrated favouritism. Is it because of the Upper Corentyne is the womb of the People's Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C)?”

Kumar insisted that while East Canje residents pay the same water bills as everyone else in the nation, “The East Canje area continues to receive water only for a few hours per day, while other areas has as many as 24 hours per day supplies. Special areas in Guyana receive purified water but we the residents of East Canje have the stinking, discoloured water which the water company distributes.”

As an independent observer, I look at this situation and raise my eyebrows to ponder what on earth the residents of East Canje could have done to be so deliberately neglected by their own government. How can any Guyanese citizen not sympathise with their fellow countrymen in this situation?

President Jagdeo has said he does not have the money for a new road, but that “remedial work” should start soon. This is an interesting statement since he had the money to help build a hotel for the World Cup that now charges astronomical prices. I wonder how many rooms sit vacant in that hotel every day?

However, there is no money for a new street in East Canje. Meanwhile there are new streets all over the place. There are even new streetlights. Oh, and a new stadium, a new shopping mall and even a new escalator. Yet the President cannot find the money for a new road for East Canje.

You got to love that can-do spirit that oozes from the PPP when it suits their purpose. Yet at other times it is something else entirely that seeps from the walls of Freedom House. Yuck!

The real question in all of this is how this East Canje street was allowed to get in such a sad state of repair in the first place. It would seem that this neglect has been going on for quite some time. I really do wish sometimes that the people of a nation would take their government to court for such god-awful neglect.

The people in East Canje pay taxes like everyone else in Guyana. They are hard-working folk who deserve decent water and a street without craters. That the President and every single person responsible for this situation have done nothing to fix it is the very definition of injustice.

Really now, will someone please give these people a new street? Surely there is someway to come up with the money for this project. Guyana had help financing the new Stadium, the new lights and other such projects. Why can’t the President be just as resourceful when it comes to a new street for the East Canje residents?

Or better yet, since the government used $168.7 million of taxpayer money to help build Buddy’s International Hotel and still has not been repaid, maybe that “buddy” should ante up the money for the new road. I’m sure that much money would go a long way toward a new road. It might even buy a water treatment system, too.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Stella Says…Women should not obey men

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 13 June 2007)

It is good to see an ongoing discussion concerning the rights and protection of the women of Guyana. This discussion is long overdue, especially given fact that so many women suffer from beating at the hands of men who supposedly love them or those same “loving” men kill them.

Freddie Kissoon wrote about this very subject just last Friday in his column entitled “Wife-killing and wife-beating; so what?” Within the last few months there have also been a letters to the dailies crying out for justice and protection for women and editorials mulling the effect such a travesty has on society.

A statement made by Freddie in his column from last Friday gave me pause. He said, “I lived all my life in South Georgetown (I moved out last month to live next to the Atlantic; that is where I always wanted to be) and in South Georgetown there exists a sub-culture in which ghetto men are born into what informs them that women are to be roughed up if you are going make them obey you.”

It is the last eight words that made my hair stand on end. I simply despise the word obey when it is used about women in regards to men. I am not sure from the way it was phrased, whether Freddie believes that women should obey men and that this obedience should be wrought in other ways outside of physical violence – or if he is simply stating this as part of what certain men in his old community think and thus why they beat their women.

I am inclined to give Freddie the benefit of the doubt because firstly, although he has never said as much, Freddie’s track record does not seem to imply that he believes women should be required to obey men. And secondly, since he is not religious, he has no archaic dogma requiring him to force women into submission.

There is a third reason to give Freddie the benefit of the doubt on this subject. He has treated this female columnist with the same respect as the rest of his male colleagues even when we have not agreed. That says so much in and of itself.

In any case, it is this notion of obedience to which I wish to speak because it is not until women realise that they are not required to obey a man with whom they are in a relationship that they will respect themselves enough to leave an abusive man long before he inflicts his will on her to the degree that it requires her life.

I do not wish to change these types of men because they are of little consequence in the long run. Once women have opened their eyes to the fact that abusive men have absolutely no right to beat women – not even for the ridiculous notion of forcing a woman to submit to his will – that is when those men become insignificant.

Moreover, as Freddie pointed out in his aforementioned column, when the judicial system finally gets its act together and puts these abusive men and murderers away for good, the more these men will realise that it is not worth the time in jail to force a woman into “obedience.”

My oldest daughter recently got engaged to a wonderful young man she has known for years. The wedding will not be until late next year, but we were so caught up in the excitement that we were going over even the smallest details. This is when I wanted to now if she intended to include the word “obey” in her wedding vows.

Her emphatic answer was no. Her father and I have taught her well. Quite honestly, she is so full of personality and brains that I would hate to see any man try to control her for even one second. Luckily, she has found a man who loves her because of her personality and brains and would never want her to become anything else.

Not all women are so lucky because some men only want a slave to take care of him, his house, his food, his clothes – him, him, him. An eighteenth century English author named Mary Wollstonecraft once said, “…as blind obedience is ever sought for by power, tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavour to keep women in the dark, because the former only want slaves, and the latter a play-thing.”

This notion of female obedience to a male master is just pure rubbish. Nonsense. Gibberish. Babble. Drivel. Jabberwocky. Skimble-skamble. Balderdash. Baloney. Bilge. Blatherskite. Piffle. Pishposh. Poppycock. Tomfoolery. Flummadiddle. Horsefeathers. Hogwash. Fiddlesticks. Malarkey. Twaddle. Windbaggery. Hooey.

You get the point.

It is a non-issue as to whether the men (those who do not like giving up their female slaves) ever embrace the fact that women are not subject to them, women do not have to submit their wills to their husbands and women are no longer required to obey men. All that is important is that women know these truths and start acting on them.

Germaine de StaĆ«l, a French novelist and literary critic who lived in the early 1800s said, “Every time a new nation, America or Russia for instance, advances toward civilization, the human race perfects itself; every time an inferior class emerges from enslavement and degradation, the human race again perfects itself.”

This is what the judicial system must keep in mind as they advance toward human perfection by ridding society of wife-beaters and wife murderers. To close this column I am going to provide a short poem that speaks to the notion of coerced obedience that was first written in 1555.

Your brutal goal was to make me a slave
beneath the ruse of being served by you.
Pardon me, friend, and for once hear me through:
I am outraged with anger and I rave.

— Sonnet XXIII, Oeuvres (1555)
A Book of Women Poets, Aliki and Willis Barnstone, eds., 1980

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stella Says…Guyana does not produce religious fanatics

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 10 June 2007)

It pains me to know that Guyana will suffer from this alleged terrorist plot even as I try to grapple with the notion that a nation that is probably the most religiously tolerant in the world could ever produce religious fanatics to the degree required to attempt to bring such extreme harm on others.

My first reaction to this alleged plot was probably the same as everyone else – this is not good for Guyana. Then I thought of how it would affect my family, both in and out of New York. However, something just did not click in my mind about all of this.

I could not put my finger on it, but it came to me while reading an article in the New York Times about the Guyanese community in New York. In the article, a Guyanese Diaspora named Dolly Z. Hassan said this whole thing is “very bizarre – very, very bizarre.”

The article quoted Ms. Hassan who said, “Nine out of 10 Guyanese don’t understand the conflict in the Middle East and they are not concerned,” and in regards to religious terrorism, she added that it “is not in the Guyanese blood. I have never heard of it even existing in Guyana.”

Ms. Hassan is right, most people in Guyana are very tolerant of the religious beliefs of others. Which is why this whole thing is so hard to swallow. My heart really goes out to those Guyanese living in New York. As if the whole immigration issue wasn’t making the situation in America difficult enough.

The Guyanese and Trinidadian communities released a statement this past week in which they ask others not to judge them by the acts of those involved in the alleged terrorist plot. The press release said, “We are shocked by this revelation and are saddened to learn that these suspects are of Guyanese and Trinidadian heritage. As a community, we vehemently condemn any and all acts of terrorism and call for the highest punishment under the law, we must also ensure that the legal system run its course.”

The statement continued, “We therefore cannot pass judgment on these individuals, except to assure everyone that we will join hands with law enforcement to ensure that all of us can pursue life, liberty and happiness in our great country. We ask our neighbors and fellow New Yorkers not to rush to judgment, and more importantly, not to paint every Guyanese and Trinidadian here in the USA with a prejudiced brush.”

Leaders and organisations within the Guyanese and Trinidadian communities signed the statement.

I share President Jagdeo’s obvious frustration about this issue. Saying this whole debacle has soiled Guyana’s image at the opening of the conference at the Guyana International Conference Centre, according to an article in the Guyana Chronicle from June 7, Jagdeo also said the unveiling of the terror plot by Guyanese “is not good since Guyana’s future depends on the linkages with the United States.”

For those of us who love Guyana and live in other places, this situation makes it even more difficult to persuade others to see how beautiful this nation truly is. For example, at a business dinner in DC last week, my husband found a new business acquaintance very interested in his country of birth.

He went on and on about Guyana with pride during this conversation since – like most people in America – his business acquaintance was unfamiliar with his homeland. This very positive event took place on Thursday evening. On Saturday morning, Guyana is all over the news in a very negative light and my husband is wondering what that person will think about him now.

While some Americans will let this whole story play out without judging Guyana or its people, just like every other county there are also some very shallow-minded people who will now discriminate even more than before.

When I did a search on the Internet to find news stories related to this alleged terrorist plot, I found 74 stories on just how the Guyanese in New York were dealing with this situation. There were news articles from as far away as the United Kingdom and Austria.

One article produced by the Associate Press and subsequently reprinted over and over by other news agencies pointed out several negative incidents that have taken place in the New York Guyanese community recently.

The kicker is that no one outside of New York would have known about these incidents had it not been for this alleged terrorist plot. Now the world knows. Americans are a very fickle people. Like Peeping Tom pointed out in a column this past week, they are very jumpy about things lately.

It used to be that trust was the assumption in regards to anyone who did not “look American.” Now the assumption is mistrust. It does not help that when we go to the airport there are signs and verbal announcements over the intercom requiring people to report any unattended luggage to the nearest security officer.

Before 9/11, the security in the airports was very light and relatives could walk right up to the boarding gate to see a traveller off. Now if car is dropping off a person in front of the airport and stays in one place for longer than two minutes there is a security officer chasing the driver off.

Moreover, much like how the Guyanese government plays on the racial fears of its citizens, the Bush administration does the same thing to Americans regarding terrorist activity to justify its unprovoked war. This makes people even more distrusting and for the lesser informed of the nation, the Bush tactic is even more effective.

What I have said in this column and so much more comprises the new dynamics that will reform the interactions of Guyana with the US – and more specifically, the Guyanese Diaspora with their neighbours in America.

My one great frustration is that Guyana has been making huge strides in infrastructural development, technology, tourism and other such necessary areas to become more appealing to the outside world. It is my hope that these alleged terrorists activities will very little negative effect on the positive future that was just beginning to dawn in Guyana.

It would be a shame for the world to think for one second that Guyana is a religiously fanatical nation when in fact it is probably farther from such a state than any other nation in the world. If this was about racial issues, then it would easier to swallow. But it is about religious issue and Guyana does not fit the profile for producing religious fanatics.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Friday, June 08, 2007

Stella Says…Even I have to admit the AFC should be taken seriously

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 08 June 2007)

Just in case you have not kept up on the spat between Tony Vieira and Sheila Holder, allow me to fill you in because this one is just too much fun to miss.

It seems the ever-entertaining Showster Tony Vieira caused a great deal of ire for AFC Vice-Chair Sheila Holder when he suggested that Holder should have sided with the “other opposition parties” concerning a recent decision dealing with a certain nomination for the Appointive Committee.

So what was the Showster’s problem with Holder? Let me whisper it so as not to raise another ruckus…shhh. (She cast her vote for an Indo-Guyanese). Oh my goodness! What was she thinking! How could she have allowed such a travesty to happen?

The Showster seems to be of the opinion that Holder should have stood with the other opposition parties and voted for anyone other than Seepersaud. (He is the Indo-Guyanese). Holder maintained that she cast her vote for the best person for the job (and therefore Guyana) regardless of race.

Therefore, Holder disagreed with the Showster and seems to be of the opinion that this issue is not an Afro-Guyanese thing or an Indo-Guyanese thing, but instead just a Guyanese thing. Whoa, baby! Is the AFC trying to erase that racial line that separates this nation? But that line is so familiar and so comfortable.

If that racial line disappears, what will happen to all those PPP and PNC politicians who use racial fear to intimidate votes from their constituents?

Holder said in a letter to Kaieteur News on June 3, “The AFC is not about maintaining the racial divide that has pretty much threatened to destroy this country. It is our objective to break the practice by, first of all, setting the example, and secondly, by building confidence in the society through the introduction of policies to ensure ethnic balance is achieved in our institutions, and eventually dispel ethnic insecurity generally.”

She even had the audacity to tell Showster Viera, “I reckon that in time, Mr. Vieira and his colleagues will come to realise that the AFC is not a side-kick of the PNCR-1G.” Now that is some big talk from such a baby party.

The drama did not stop there though. A letter to Stabroek News by Aubrey Retemeyer on June 5 said, “Let us not fool ourselves, the AFC votes and parliamentary seats were won and secured primarily on African votes -- the evidence is there for all to see. And it goes without saying that Africans would expect and demand of the AFC that they represent their interests.”

I truly hate to point out the obvious to Aubrey, but those Africans who voted for the AFC did so with the full knowledge that this political party was multi-racial and had an Indian as one of primary leaders. It seems to me that any Africans who voted for the AFC wanted exactly what Holder pointed out in her response to Showster Viera – to break the racial divide.

I have to point out how pathetic it is that the PNC has to send a Showster to bark demands at the AFC in an attempt to somehow whip them into submission under the racially divided flag. As if the PNC does not have bigger problems to keep them busy nowadays.

Moreover, it is so sad that a letter like the one by Aubrey Retemeyer is written with hopes of intimidating the AFC into compliance. Really now, the AFC is the only party making a real attempt at uniting Guyana instead of dividing it racially. Why on earth would any Guyanese want to chastise them for such a noble act?

I may not agree with everything the AFC does, but when a baby party in Guyana has the gall to sidestep the political games with hope of developing a better nation, then we should all applaud this party in unison – not demand that it falls in line with the do-nothing parties that have utterly failed Guyana.

Here is an excerpt from the AFC’s column in last Sunday’s KN edition, “If there was any doubt that politically the idea of a third force has gained currency in Guyana, the AFC has dispelled it. The task before us now is to keep alive the idea of a third political party being capable of rescuing this country from imminent failure.”

This party has big dreams, which is more than I can say for the PNC. I’m not sure Corbin has had a big dream in the entire last decade. If there was a version of American Idol for Guyana’s politics, it is all but apparent that the AFC has the “it” factor that it takes to shine. The PPP and the PNC have the “ugh” factor.

I enjoy watching this baby party as it attempts to grow into its own shoes. It is clear that these last few public statements we have seen from the AFC have been their attempt to let the world know they should be taken seriously. As much as I thoroughly enjoy taking cheap stabs at Khemraj Ramjattan (it really is just so easy), even I have to admit that this party deserves to be taken seriously.

In fact, the AFC might be the only party in Guyana right now that should be taken seriously.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Stella Says…What if women acted like jackasses too?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 06 June 2007)

Popular recording artist Ciara released a song a few weeks back that touches on a subject women have found intriguing for centuries. The name of the song is, “Like a boy,” and the premise is that women should turn the table on men by treating the guys the way some of them treat the ladies.

I saw this happen just yesterday when someone I know turned the table on her guy regarding a situation in which he had forced her to live non-stop for quite some time, but when the table was turned he could not handle the situation for even an hour.

Even though I have used this tactic to make a point before too, I have to admit that such behaviour seems childish. Women are far better than to resort to the irresponsible and insensitive behaviour exhibited by certain types of men.

Please note that I am being very careful to say “some men” or “certain types of men” since Sweet and Sensitive Freddie Kissoon pointed out that I tend vilify all men with over generalisations after I chastised him for his own sweeping remarks regarding western journalists.

He was right. My remarks can sweep all men into one pathetic group when, in fact, there are some absolutely fantastic guys out there. I know this to be true because I am married to a fantastic guy.

Here is a verse from Ciara’s song:

Girl, go head and be
Just like him
Go run the streets
Just like him
Come home late say sleep like him
Creep like him
Front with ya friends
Act hard when you're with him - like him
Keep a straight face when ya tell a lie
Always keep an airtight alibi
Keep him in the dark
What he don't know won't break his heart

There are also lines in the song that talk about having a joint account and another one he does not know about. These lyrics point out some of the many relational double standards that exist between the genders. Ciara ends the song by remarking about how she is messing with the guy’s head again and giving him a dose of his own medicine.

The relational facet between the genders is only one aspect where double standards exist. There are double standards that can exist when it comes to caring for the children, cleaning the house, cooking meals and so many other areas when the woman is expected to act more responsibly than the man.

Ciara’s song reminded me of a book I read recently by Donna Woolfolk Cross entitled, “Pope Joan,” which is a fictional account of the legend of a female pope. The novel touches on the double standards women faced in education and religion during the Dark Ages.

The sad reality is that women are still denied an education in certain parts of the world even today. Moreover, there has still not been a female pope because religion continues to force women to act like second-class citizens.

I think if we ever do face a God in the afterlife, she is going to be very upset about the way women were treated on Earth.

In Pope Joan, a bright young baby girl is born to a family with a canon (local priest) as the father. He is quite disappointed that she is a girl even though he already has two boys. When the girl gets a bit older, her thirst for knowledge is so profound that she encourages the eldest of her brothers to teach her to read, which he does knowing that a beating awaits if his father finds out.

Little Joan is a fast learner and through a series of events, finds herself in the position to switch identities with one of her brothers who is killed by invaders. This is how she ends up in a monastery and her intellect is so keen that even the position of Pope is not out of reach.

The sad part of this whole story is that Joan has to pretend to be a boy in order to use her intellect to its fullest potential. It was simply thought that women did not have the intellectual capacity to be educated or that if they had the same knowledge as men, they might use it for evil - because Eve supposedly gave Adam an apple.

The first argument of women not having the intellectual capacity for academic pursuits has been disproved again and again. In fact, I read on Yahoo News India on March 27 that a five-year-old girl who lives in the “Raima village in Madhubani District of Bihar has learnt the entire Bhagwad Gita by heart and also knows many other Sanskrit verses that she recites with full clarity of the language.”

This is an absolutely incredible feat. If there were anyone who deserved the opportunity to serve as a religious leader, it is this young girl. The sad reality is that she will be told that she needs to defer to some man or another and act less intelligent so that she doesn’t intimidate the men. Potential found and lost, such is the story of women.

Double standards are still a way of life far too often - even in more enlightened nations. This is why women feel it necessary to give certain types of men a dose of their own medicine just to make a simple point.

Some women finally have the opportunity to stand up for themselves without fear of death or social/religious ostracism, so they start to treat inconsiderate men the same way they are treated. The notion is logical on some level, but we all know it is also a lesson in futility.

I contend that women should not resort to the same type of heartless behaviour they resent when it is doled out to them. In his column from Monday, Freddie said, “Women and men are equal in everything in life and philosophy except one dimension; women are the more caring and humane of the two genders.”

I agree whole-heartedly with my colleague and would simply hate to see women begin to stoop to the level of treating others the way certain types of men treat their women. Can you imagine what this world would be like if all women started acting like the mean jackasses they have to deal with on a daily basis?

It is not a world in which I would want to live.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Stella Says…Bush relinquishes his role as an environmental idiot

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 03 June 2007)

As I browsed through my email inbox on Friday morning after returning home from a very long trip, one email from the Washington Post caught my eye. It read, “Bush Signals Shift on Global Warming.” A smirk curved my mouth and my eyes squinted in disdain.

After withdrawing the United States from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change in 2001, and after dismissing a report put out by his own administration warning that human activities are behind the climate change that is having significant effects on the environment, Bush has finally decided that he might have been wrong about this issue.

This man has maintained the incredulous stance of hear no evil, see no evil for his entire presidential career on this issue – to the angst of the rest of the world, including most Americans. Now as he wraps up his time in the White House, he has the gall to change his position?

This is the very definition of a leader with his own agenda and to hell with the rest of the world – literally.

On my trip, I drove through some of the Southeast states including Georgia and Florida, which both have wildfires raging due to the extreme drought conditions. During this time of the year, these states usually receive large amounts of rain.

I drove through smoke so thick I could not see even a mile in front of me in broad daylight. This continued for over a hundred miles. All I had to do was drive through the smoke and spend one night in a smoky hotel room that made my hair stink the next morning. My heart really went out to the people who actually had to live in this smoky area.

During my trip, I listened to a “Best of the Left” podcast from May 14. It said that ten of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1990. Twenty of the hottest years have been in the last 25 years. The hottest year in recorded history was in 2005 and the hottest year in the US was in 2006.

If ever there was an American President who could hide his head in the sand, Bush wins the prize. Of course, his ties to oil companies probably made it a lot easier to play the role of an environmental idiot.

The same podcast that I mentioned before talked about how the EV1, an electric car put out by General Motors in the 90s, produced little or no emissions. This car was designed in response to a law in California at the time that required carmakers to cut down on amount of emissions being produced in the state.

The podcast also highlighted a new documentary entitled, “Who Killed the electric car?” The documentary exposes a smear campaign that gave the impression that electric cars were too dangerous to drive when in fact the EV1 was very well made.

It seems that a nickel battery had even been developed to allow electric cars to drive for 150 miles before needing to be recharged. However, after California caved to the carmakers and change the previous law, GM sold its shares in this battery technology to Chevron/Texaco – an American oil company that would like to keep the value of oil as high as possible.

It seems these batteries are now very hard to get and some say the new owners have not invested much money into progressing the technology from where it was. I do not think there is one person alive who is shocked to learn that an oil company would prefer to hide any technology that would make oil obsolete.

Now the truth is out and so now Bush is finally starting to see the light about global warming. Isn’t that just peachy.

In the Washington Post article from my email, entitled, “Bush proposes talks on warming,” the US President said, “In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it."

Bush continued, "The United States takes this issue seriously. The new initiative I am outlining today will contribute to the important dialogue that will take place in Germany next week.” The US takes this issue seriously? Oh, I guess he meant that the US has been taking this issue seriously since Thursday.

Some will say that it is better that Bush came around late than never. I’m not so convinced when it applies to this issue. I cannot help but wonder what this world would be like today if Bush had taken global warming seriously from the start instead of spending the last seven years pretending it was just a doomsday theory.

Moreover, if he had done right by the world in this regard as well as in the case of the Iraqi war, perhaps the estimated US$320 billion being spent on the war could have been channelled into the production of the environmentally safer ethanol fuel or to promote the mass production of the electric car that has all but disappeared from the scene.

I suppose the world can breathe easier now that Bush has finally seen the light about global warming. Slow as he is, it is reassuring that he came around before the world went up in flames. It only took a catastrophic hurricane, a cataclysmic tsunami and the changing of the entire earth’s weather patterns to help him see the light.

Now I wonder what it will take for him to see the light about Iraq.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

Friday, June 01, 2007

Stella Says…I think Dem Boys are wonderful, but what about Dem Gyals?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 01 June 2007)

I have mentioned before that women do not see power as a vertical ladder like most men do. Women see power in a horizontal direction that can be spread to those around her and can continue from those she touches until a web of leadership strength is created from the centre.

There has been a lot of talk recently about women who decide to quit their very successful business careers. One reason women give for stepping down is that the web of leadership can be very taxing on the person in the middle. Another reason is that women simply do not find the power struggle of the corporate world – or even corporate success - very satisfying.

In response to this new phenomenon of women excusing themselves from their successful endeavours to seek other more gratifying goals, another very womanly idea has been born to counteract any loss of women in the workplace. A new mentoring program has started that places women from developing countries under the tutorage of powerful corporate women in America.

I read about this new program in The Huffington Post, a cutting edge online newspaper that is owned and operated by one of the most successful female print journalists of our time, Arianna Huffington. The program, called the Fortune/U.S. State Department Mentoring Partnership: Vital Voices, was started by the woman who has overseen Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Business" cover package since 1998 and a couple high ranking women in the U.S. government.

According to the Huffington Post article by Pattie Sellers from May 29 entitled, “The Power of Women,” the purpose of the program is to bring young women from developing countries to spend three weeks with 32 top corporate America female executives -- all participants of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.

According to the article, “Avon CEO Andrea Jung hosted Archana Surana, a bold entrepreneur from India. ADM chief executive Pat Woertz hosted Phurbu Tsamchu, who owns Tibet Snow Leopard Carpets Ltd. and runs an orphanage for 30 children in Tibet. Other mentors included the most senior women at Avaya, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, General Electric, Wal-Mart, Raytheon, Exxon Mobil, Nielsen, Herman Miller, Pitney Bowes, ING, State Farm, Motorola, and law firms Skadden Arps and Latham & Watkins.”

What did these female executives do with their mentees? “Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore took Mei Jingsong, a manager at Sina.com in Beijing, to meetings in Boston and to the swishy Time 100 party. Some mentors -- Solera Capital CEO Molly Ashby, UnitedHealth Group exec Jacqueline Kosecoff, Wells Fargo EVP Kathleen Vaughan -- invited their mentees to their homes for weekend stays. Xerox chief Anne Mulcahy took Rashmi Tawari, her mentee from India, to Cleveland for customer and employee meetings, arranged a reception in her honor with Rochester's Indian community, and made sure that Rashmi got to know Xerox's other women leaders such as President Ursula Burns and Chief Technology Officer Sophie Vandebroek.”

This article inspired me because this Mentoring Partnership is the type of program that comes perfectly normal for women leaders. Women leaders do not hoard power; they share it with hopes that they can teach others how to be successful too.

There are women all around us who are rising stars and need a mentor to help them reach their full potential. Take for example the ever-increasing number of women graduating from UG ready to take on the world. These young ladies deserve an opportunity to spend some time learning from the successful women of Guyana.

And Guyana has plenty of successful women to act as mentors. There are female business owners, judges, Ministers of government, politicians, media workers, activists, lawyers, teachers, and so on. If each woman in Guyana took it upon herself to mentor at least one young lady a year, the outcome could be spectacular - and might be one answer to Guyana’s persistent brain drain.

For example, I am a female columnist, but there are very, very few of us in Guyana - far too few. In fact, it is an absolute shame that women do not have more of a voice in the newspapers of Guyana. It is not as if women do not have an opinion on a wide variety of matters.

Likewise, it is not as if women do not have the capacity to express those opinions in a comprehensive and concise manner. What is lacking is opportunity and encouragement. I think Dem Boys are just wonderful, but shouldn’t Dem Gyals get a chance to say something too?

As mothers, we teach our daughters how to cook, clean and nurture their children, but how many of us have taught our daughters how to run a successful business, argue a case before a judge or fight for a just cause as a politician? We don’t think twice about teaching the boys such things, but society tends to think the girls cannot handle such intellectually arduous activities.

This mentality is pure nonsense imbedded into our culture through thousands of years of patriarchal rule – and it is time to change it. Which is why women in positions of leadership need to take the time to mentor young women to be just as successful as they are – or more.

If we do this right, when we are ready to retire from our jobs, there will be 20 women ready to easily step into our shoes. I might decide to pick apart political clowns until the day I die, but I want to know that when my voice is gone there is another woman capable of exposing the political gibberish and defending the rights of the people.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com