Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya was strangled to death on Carnival Tuesday in Trinidad.
News of her death made headlines across the country. She was a talented steel pan player who happened to be Japanese Hokkaido-born. Her love for the Trinidadian culture brought her to Trinidad where she would play for the PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars steel pan band. She was described as very sweet in nature and was very dedicated to perfection her musical skills.
Much to the dismay of the Trinidadian people, Mayor Raymond Tim Kee decided to take a stance on the matter claiming that “women should protect themselves from abuse”. Insinuating that “lewd” behaviour was the cause of Asami’s murder.
“You know before Carnival I did make a comment about vulgarity and lewdness in the conduct and you know, some question was asked by one of the smart media people when I spoke of the things that I see some women do, assisted by men of course. But the woman has the responsibility to ensure that they are not abused.”
“And my argument was you could enjoy Carnival without going through that routine. They do all sorts of things, I mean, things. And I throw back the question: During the day of prancing and partying, how many times do they go through those routines? Is it the majority of times or fewer times than the majority? So I ask when the other times they are not doing it, are they enjoying themselves?”
“Then why you can’t continue with that and maintain some kind of dignity?”
”Ash, colleague Junior “Peppy” Goolcharan and other Silver Stars colleagues also slammed comments made in relation to Nagakiya’s death by Port-of-Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee, saying they were “out of place”, “disrespectful”, “very disgusting” and “completely inappropriate”. They added that she never engaged in vulgar behaviour, didn’t even know how to wine and dressed modestly, but knew her way around the city"
The news of her death is extremely saddening. It weighs heavy on my heart that this wonderful spirit was strangled to death. Like everyone else in life she was seeking happiness. She was brave enough to explore a new culture that she fell in love with.
Victim-shaming is a habit that has serious repercussions for society. It is a bad habit that needs to be changed. The expression of sexuality is a right that I was born with. As a human being we should all embrace sexuality as we do health and happiness. It is an innate part of our DNA. Society makes us believe that men and women are so different from another when it is learned behaviour. Sexism drives the gap between the sexes. Men aren't the only ones who are slut-shaming, women who slut-shame are also victims of male authority, we are taught to be desirable. Women who engage in such behaviour only solidify that we are here for their means by their means. They pull each other down like crabs in the barrel. I strongly believe that a woman who partakes in slut-shaming does so in attempts to elevate her own value.
I don’t understand why women are being shamed for being the very beings we are born to be under the authority of the male gaze. Does male sexuality not exist? It absolutely does, women aren’t the only objects of desire on this green earth. Why is modesty only a term used in reference to women’s sexuality? As long as there are two parts to the equation, “frustration” exists on both ends. Men need to be taught that they aren’t the only ones who deserve liberated sexualities.
I am very proud of my Trinidadian culture. The way we dance, the way we speak, the way the sexes interact with each other. Through the looking glass our behaviour looks to be “lewd” or “over sexualized”. The Mayor's statements are certainly not an accurate representation of the Trinidadian society. We are but a tiny speck in the ocean but our culture has progressed over the last 100 years into something truly remarkable. I will not let the criticism make me feel ashamed about my culture. I absolutely do believe that there are many social issues that needs to be addressed. Blaming women for partaking in the joyful aspects of culture is unacceptable. A crime is a crime and should be dealt with accordingly regardless of who the perpetrator is. I think that sky is the limit as long as we as humans are treating each other with respect and whatever may take place is consensual. Unfortunately that is not the case. Why should women live their lives in fear?
Tim Kee’s statement added: “There is indeed a concern about the behaviour of both male and female mas players generally, as they are now being emulated by children who believe that lewd behaviour and Carnival go hand-in-hand."
NEWSFLASH: Everything is emulated by children. If you can be taught to wine before you can speak or walk, then why can't equality be taught? Carnival is not the root of this problem. Sexuality is repressed but sexism can spread like the virus. Sexuality is something I have struggled with my whole life. I have always felt conflicted. Young girls are taught that men are predators. We are encouraged to dress modestly and not draw unwanted attention as many parents are concerned for the safety of their maturing daughters. On the flip-side we live in a world where sexual prowess is valued and encouraged, as long as it is at an "acceptable" level.
I have grown into myself, I have gotten a taste, the true power is yet to come. All women should know how to harness their energy and live to the fullest. I’m tired of this “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” bullshit. One day I am going to fucking die so I have to start living.
Dear Asami Nagakiya,
Thank you for loving our culture. I too share the love of foreign cultures including the Japanese culture. I understand the thrill of experiencing different cultures and it has shaped my perspective as a world citizen. One day I hope to visit Japan and I know that I will be treated with the love and respect I deserve. How do I even express how sorry I am that this happened to you? I hope you rest in peace where ever you are.