POLITICOLE: Lightbourn raises knotty problems with ‘tubes tied’ comments



“Tie up, tie up, tie up

Yeah your tubes gettin’ tie up

Look at what Bahamian woman facin’

Tubes get tie like shoe lacin’

I say tie up, tie up, tie up

Man your tubes gettin’ tie up

Look at what Bahamian woman facin’

Tubes get tie lie shoe lacin’”

While planning what I’d write today, I got a WhatsApp message with an audio file of a very catchy new tune (I’m still bent over laughing), so swiftly created in response to MP Richard Lightbourn’s unfortunate comments made at the Free National Movement (FNM) convention last week, words I’m sure he will be made to regret for all time.

Clearly, Bahamians have boundless creativity, just waiting for the right outlet; if only they could harness it so quickly all the time, and for things that mattered on a more significant level. If only we could be so inventive when it comes to solving our very real, sizeable problems. That’s not to suggest that the young people who created this ‘Operation Tie Up’ tune did something insignificant, because the role of a creative artist involves taking social issues of the day and building awareness about them through artistic expression, and that’s pretty important.

Reader poll

Do you think Richard Lightbourn should resign over his sterilisation comments?

  • Yes, he should resign. 44%
  • No, he should not resign. 56%

207 total votes.

Whether you would label the makers of this tune - Solo Made - artists or performers, I’ll leave that for you to decide, as there’s sure to be disagreement, but you have to give them credit, full marks in fact, for being imaginative and impromptu in just a matter of days … they earn a perfect score for casting light on the question, for better or worse.

But let’s get into the text of Lightbourn’s presentation and see what the upset is all about. Is it really what people are calling it? People are declaring him racist for his remarks, and you know that word is used and abused these days, so much so that I doubt half the people using it know what it’s supposed to mean.

According to Lightbourn, “It is also necessary for us as a nation to consider adopting the lead of several countries in the world, which result in ... unwed mother having her tubes tied after having more than two children, which would in the end result in fewer children being born.”

He continued, “By adopting such measures there’ll be less classrooms needed in the future, less persons coming out of school every year seeking employment and would also result in the mother of these children being able to live a better life not having to bring up so many children.”

I don’t know Mr Lightbourn from Adam. But, I am told that ‘quirky’ is an understatement when describing his personality. That aside, he really should have had someone vet this presentation, though not for the reason everyone seems to be upset about.

As angry as you want to be, as vehemently opposed to Lightbourn’s comments as you want to be, don’t pretend that you don’t understand the basic idea of what he was trying to say and, really, should have said completely differently to minimise it being misunderstood. For many of you who are infuriated, it is false, to say the least, because you know when you get home, behind closed doors, you say the same thing to your family and friends, even about your own family and friends. You just didn’t write it in a speech and deliver it on live television.

To the women’s rights proponents, whose causes I mostly understand and identify with, please take your pick; at what stage would it be ideal to nip this proliferate baby-making ‘problem’ in the bud? You know it’s a problem, so let’s skip past that part. Should the state give out free condoms? Should the state perform free abortions? Free tubal ligations? Free vasectomies? All of the above? And under what circumstances?

You know there’s a real problem here, so rather than slaughter the clumsy messenger, send out your 10-point plan for how best to deal with this problem so that the burden doesn’t rest with every other Bahamian, impregnated or not, unwed or not, to pay for the upbringing of unplanned for and sometimes, by the evidence of their treatment, unwanted children.

We know the root of Lightbourn’s thought. Many others (browner or paler than him) think the same thing, of something equally as drastic as a remedy, but they dare not say it aloud. Mr Lightbourn should know by now that the FNM convention wasn’t the place to reveal that thought. I’m not sure his word choice in any public forum would have been acceptable. People ‘successful’ in public or political life don’t ever say what they really think … do they?

By the way, “having her tubes tied” is a different statement than “tying the tubes of unwed mothers”, the latter being used in news reports and the former being the words that Lightbourn actually said.

As a Bahamian woman, was I offended by Lightbourn’s remarks? I thought about it in several ways and still come up with ‘no’ as my answer.

I live responsibly with respect to reproduction, so I take no offence. But then again, I’m not looking to get my feelings hurt. Richard Lightbourn’s comments - or those of any other politician - could never offend me. From the break, whoever it is, whatever is said, I could care less. But I recognise I’m not typical. Add to the fact that I don’t care much at all for politicians’ remarks, I have no children, never have had any, have never been pregnant, I am not married, and I have never been married. I’m as single and unwed as they come. So I’m almost immune to being offended on all counts.

But, okay. If this were going to be a real policy, this tube-tying business, should it only apply to unwed mothers? What about the wedded mothers? Some of them also have more than two children and can’t take care of them. Some married Bahamian women have too many children, as in more than they can reasonably afford to care for without slipping into poverty. And don’t pretend again like you also don’t see or hear what happens in the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) public ward with unmarried and married, immigrant mothers, which I suspect is another offshoot of the point Richard Lightbourn tried awkwardly to make.

The bulk of the ‘too many children and too little resources and education’ problem is with unmarried women, yes, but if you introduce a measure like the one Lightbourn suggested, it should apply across the board, should it not? Not because you’re married means you can afford more than two children in the Bahamas. Because, frankly speaking, fathers married to mothers are often not caring for their offspring either. And while we’re on the topic of fathers, what about snipping their bits?

You do realise the unwed/single mothers birthing children make them with men? Any solution to this ‘problem’ of fierce and relentless, irresponsible procreation is the man’s concern as well as the woman’s, simultaneously. Any action to be taken on the problem must be taken simultaneously. Why would the burden rest with the woman, vis a vis, birth control? Would that be for the same reason that the burden for the caretaking of children lies with the woman, too? That’s right; it’s primarily and often solely a woman’s job to care for children in the Bahamas. I forgot.

Listen, if I, married or unmarried, had to be sterilised after two children, for population control, then for damn sure my counterpart was going to have to endure the same. But his procedure is reversible isn’t it? Which brings us right back to the unlevel playing field for women. So, really, if we’re going to argue about anything here it should be the treatment of Bahamian women as compared to Bahamian men.

To me, the most idiotic part of Lightbourn’s presentation was that tubal ligation will lead to less classrooms needed in the future. Again, you can guess what he was perhaps trying to say, but that’s not what was said. Can you ever have too many classrooms, or, by extension, too much education?

As for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) women in Parliament, who released a statement about Lightbourn’s comments, obviously they also interpreted it the way they wanted to. Besides, where were they when Leslie ‘Punching Bag’ Miller made his comments in their very presence, right under their sniffing noses, on the floor of Parliament, no less. But they all politely ignored him and the backlash. Furthermore, if you want to be technical, PLP women in Parliament, Lightbourn didn’t say ‘all’ Bahamian women, he said the ‘unwed’ women. But I suppose you would dismiss that as semantics, which reinforces my point - poor word choice all around.

Atop which, even if you think you’ve chosen the best words, people always find a way to make it about themselves and get their feelings hurt by it, or use it as a jump off point to argue something else totally unrelated … like racism.

And some folks, like the astute radio host Jeff Lloyd, have compared Lightbourn’s comments to the practices of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. Come on, man. It’s not the same. You know it’s not the same. Stop fanning the flame. The Nazis and Hitler, first of all, were all about the extermination of a race of people, not the mere minimising of unwanted pregnancies. Big difference there. Moreover, what Hitler and the Nazis did was done solely because of race. Are you really suggesting that Lightbourn’s horribly misguided comments and his delivery of them means he wants to extinguish the Bahamian race, of which he is a part? And, by the way, what race would that be exactly?

How do you get ‘racism’ from Lightbourn’s words? Are all women in the Bahamas of one race? Are all unwed women in the Bahamas of one race? If so, which one is that? Come on, speak. Let’s see who the real separatists are among you. You are the people who divide us.

Send email to nburrows @tribunemedia.net


Bahamianpride 7 years, 9 months ago

Agreed, message delivered wrong but lightbourn at lease had the balls to address this recklessness that's destroying us. People need to stop trying to make this racial. This is about responsibility, accountability.


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