Normally, I would say that sex and politics ought not to be mixed, but Bahamian politics is full of sex talk. The latest statements by Cassius Stuart, misunderstood or not, have brought the subject to forefront once again. The Tribune quoted him as having said that he would be a better deputy leader of the FNM, because, unlike Loretta Butler-Turner, he was sexy and could deliver the female vote to the FNM. He then corrected the quote: “We must make our party attractive, appealing and sexy to attract the woman voters, the youth votes and the other voters out there.”
My understanding of the corrected quote is that Stuart still believes that women need a party to be sexy in order to give it their vote. He just does not state explicitly that he is the sex symbol that can deliver the female vote to the FNM. Dear politicians of the Bahamas, I do not care if your party is sexy; I care about your policies. That is why I have been demanding debates. For the record, I am not a female voter. However, many female voters, too, have been demanding debates prior to the general elections. None of the female voters I have discussed politics with indicated a desire for sexy political parties.
During the campaign, sex was discussed in other contexts, too. In some ways, I propose that that discussion was a turnoff for women, and not very enticing for them to vote for a particular party. Marital rape was discussed, and, thus far, we are stuck with an ancient status quo that allows me to rape my wife. I am not too sure how many female votes that one attracts.
Sexual education was discussed, too, and it was proposed that sexual education in our schools should focus on abstinence-only propaganda. Of course, supporting arguments for this proposal, as well as the ones for the continued legality of marital rape, were predominantly biblical in nature, despite the fact that research has already shown that abstinence-only education backfires. Nonetheless, I thank the one party that actually discussed policy during its campaign, and engaged the electorate in a dialogue.
What is not openly discussed is politicians’ sex lives. And that is none of my business. However, there is something inherently hypocritical about our society where some politicians ride the moral high horse but buy their outside children fancy cars so that they may still ride, albeit separately, in the same motorcade. When our politicians’ sex lives are made a topic, it is usually through not so unexpected allusions, and the defense mechanisms have not evolved since time immemorial.
For example, during the advanced poll, Perry Christie was accused of being a “sissy.” I fail to see why such a remark deserves to be entertained, and if it is, maybe we should talk about attitudes that cause this word to be considered an insult, etc. However, Christie felt it necessary to defend his off the rack masculinity instead. Even 24 hours later, at a PLP rally, he still felt it necessary to comment about the number of attractive, young females in the crowd, as if to emphasise said masculinity.
We are almost full circle now. The broadcasts of those rallies, regardless of which party hosted them, often zoomed in on groups of young, physically attractive women who had altered their party-coloured t-shirts to be more revealing than the standard issue. At that point, politicians presented me, the male voter, with the sexy rally as a reason to vote for their party. It is hardly surprising that some are now inclined to believe that these sexy crowds need sexy leaders to vote for.
Here is what was barely talked about during the campaign season. In a country where the majority of registered voters are women, there were only 16.5% female candidates. In a country where the vast majority of college graduates are women, even the party who boasted that it had the most female candidates only had 23.7% of them. This small number of female candidates was then placed in constituencies that they lost rather than won, which is why the newly elected House of Assembly now has but 13.2% female MPs.
Let us stop talking about sex, and begin discussing issues instead. Social media guarantees that politicians who do not take the electorate seriously will become instant comedy stars. Election season may be over, but silly season has only just begun.