5 Ways To Become A "Bad Gyal" Womanist: Because Rihanna Taught Us
Can you, in fact, buss a whine and be a woman who deserves respect? Yes.
March 23, 2020 at 7:54 pm
Sister Nancy. You've probably heard her song, "Bam Bam," during that cute Reebok commercial, or, if you grew up in a West Indian house, heard it at many BBQs. But while you were swaying to the iconic phrase "what a bam bam" over and over again, you most likely weren't thinking about the short sermon Sister Nancy was sharing.
Sister Nancy was talking about being a woman in a male dominated space. She was talking about the complex and multi-layered experience of black women, in the best way possible — over a beat that made you want to slow whine. I remember rolling my hips to women like Sister Nancy and Lady Saw, and remembering years later that those lyrics encouraged me to be confident, take ownership of my body and not pay attention to everyone with an opinion. Simply put, these artists shared, with women listeners like myself, how to be a “bad gyal” womanist.
No, bad gyal isn’t just Rihanna’s screen name, it's a term used in the West Indian community. When you see Rihanna serving us face after face and donning a purple Kanekalon ponytail, you are actually seeing a version of womanism personified. But how does one define a bad gyal?
Bad gyal: an adjective or noun referring to a woman who embodies confidence and sexual freedom, and challenges how society thinks a woman should act. She is marked by individuality and is often known to dress well.
Feminists may drag me to no end, but womanism is about women of color. And yes, that means this isn’t about all women. This is about the experience of black women, like Rihanna, who are torchbearers of the radical idea that black women’s liberation is as unique as the individual. In the spirit of the modern-day West Indian bad gyal, here are five ways to mirror Rihanna's bad gyal womanism.