Anthony Best: Caribbean “Bad Girls”

Grace-JonesBecause I have been researching the chica-lit genre, where (Latina) bad girls wearing Prada run amok while harvesting success in their big-city lives, Anthony Best’s article “Bad Girls”—which examines the West Indian “Bad gal” or “bad bitch” persona—was an enjoyable read. Best writes, “Neither delicate nor timid, her self-tagged ‘bad bitch’ persona commands attention and is a statement of intent of her ambition for galactic domination… but this is not about Robyn Rihanna Fenty, it is about women like her.” See excerpts of this compelling analysis of the ‘bad girl’ with a link to the full article below:

The Bad Girl Club is a fellowship of the ‘gentle sex’ who are pioneers of their time – feisty warriors who persevered, survived, crisscrossed lines, challenged social order, and escaped unthinkable conditions to accomplish dreams, missions and ambitions. Tooled-up with an arsenal of intellect, sexuality and the art of manipulation they changed the world around them, making history as bad girl revolutionaries.

For the average teen whose anthropology is referenced by BET and MTV, Bad Girls are those whom Usher ‘wanna take to the restroom’ – this is not about them. [. . .] This Bad Girl league of champions are women who, by design, desire or DNA surveyed their circumstances and rather than accept certain demise, be quieted, marginalised or misrepresented, step up to the mark and played the life game by their own rules. Bad Girls reigned through the ages [. . .]. Today’s booty shaking prima donna may characterize a dumbed down version of these sacred women, yet is akin to the Amazons and as a collective, forged a blueprint of leading women – iconic heroines who as a tour de force defined their era, and impacted generation, after generation. The Bad Girl Club is a social order by which society, and pop culture defines itself. [. . .] Whether by intent or accident, a Bad Girl is an activist of courage and consciousness. [. . .]

Long before the world heard of Rihanna, another Bajan beauty ruled Bridgetown. Madam “Rachel Pringle” Polgreen was an hotelier and shrewd entrepreneur in the late 1800s. Her mother was a slave and her father, her mother’s master. Voluptuous in her magnificence, frank and robust in character, Rachel Pringle was a “trollop” by staunch Christian standards – the religion introduced as an institution of control for West Indian slaves. Her Royal Naval Hotel brought her notoriety and was a hotspot brothel favoured by British Naval personnel. Prince William Henry and his troop of chauvinist naval, alpha males rampaged through the brothel one debaucherous night, wrecked it, then departed. Shrewdly and fearlessly, this feisty daughter of a slave presented the prince with the bill for damages – he paid up! This single act of fierceness brought Rachel Pringle greater recognition and her business portfolio expanded to ownership of ten hotels in the city of Bridgetown. Rachel Pringle is an original Caribbean Bad Girl – she dared to choose a controversial line of business in an age when men ran things; defying the odds as a freed slave, she achieved unprecedented success and was an ‘unlikely’ champion, unapologetic and headstrong. Yet, Rachel Pringle is an iconic caricature more for her tits, rather than her wits.

[. . .] Salt, starring Angelina Jolie and Colombiana, with Zoe Saldana are both aggressive ass-kicking women out to draw blood. What about Pam Grier’s “Jackie Brown” – one of the pivotal game changers for black female characters and actors? These screen characters are not pure creative brilliance of Hollywood script writers, producers and directors. The Bad Girl Club can conjure real living-breathing-dying heroes from its fellowship.

[. . .] By default or design the Bad Girl is an activist who through perseverance develops characteristics that set her apart. Her life is never shy of controversy, and in living out her ambitions she is either admired or revered, but never ignored. Trying to contain a Bad Girl is like trying to silence an activist. Attempting to chain a confident, self-assured woman who looks to no one to define her, is a bridge one should never try to cross. [. . .]

[Photo above: Jamaican singer and actress Grace Jones, bien sûr!]

For full article, see

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