*BREEZE: I think the whole Caribbean is naturally schizophrenic [laugh], and most of all about sex.
I think it’s one of the most sensual, sexual sets of people, but with more hang-ups and still very Victorian about their sexuality. So you have a kind of freedom and spontaneity about the body, and at the same time all kinds of dogma and taboos about different kinds of sex, or the nature of the sex you are having, or who you’re having sex with. I think it’s a schizophrenia that stems from the meeting of Europe and Africa in the first place, which can sometimes be a perfect blend and sometimes can be completely destructive. And I think it shows up most strongly in sex.
So you have Lady Saw, for example, who is very explicit in her sexual lyrics and is loved by the majority of Jamaicans. Yet, there is the whole social establishment that says she must be banned from the stage for the kind of lyrics she’s performing.
And then you have a man like Beenie Man, who sings completely sexually about women, yet his audience is full of women that love him and think that he’s the greatest thing that ever happened. You have poets like me talking about how slackness is degrading to women, and at the same time it’s all women who are jumping up to the slackness at the dancehall. So it’s really hard to kind of say that there’s a true line. I do find it very schizophrenic, and that’s a word that I use a lot. [laugh] My current work is getting much more sexual. I think it’s about time.
Dub and Difference: A Conversation with Jean “Binta” Breeze by Jenny Sharpe.
Source: Callaloo, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Summer, 2003)
Image source: Ken Ryan
*Jean “Binta” Breeze (11 March 1956 – 4 August 2021) was a Jamaican dub poet and storyteller, acknowledged as the first woman to write and perform dub poetry. She worked also as a theatre director, choreographer, actor, and teacher. She performed her work around the world, in the Caribbean, North America, Europe, South-East Asia, and Africa, and has been called “one of the most important, influential performance poets of recent years”.