Battle of the (Belizean) Sexes

This is a tricky one.  I’ve wanted to write something about Belize’s men and women, and their gender issues, for a while now, but it’s so complicated, and so wrapped up in so many other issues, that I never did start.  Plus, I didn’t want to offend some (or maybe most!) of the population of the country that I live and work in.  But a few months ago, over the annual carnival weekend, I saw yet more Belizean men rubbing themselves up against Belizean women in an orgy of what I would describe as dry-humping (but what they call dancing), while at the same time having yet more locals inform me of their religious devotion, and then tell me that all gay people are evil and weird.  Plus, my ex-colleague Ruth let me in on a disturbing statistic – Belize has an adolescent fertility rate of 8% (in other words, there are 80 births per 1000 women aged 15-19 per year – which means that up to 40% of 19-year-old women have at least one child).  The adolescent fertility rate in the UK and the US is 3% (which is still considered high), and it’s just 1% in Canada.

Getting back to the male-female interaction, much of this is a case of different cultures – there are many places in the world where the locals (men and women) are friendly to each other (and to foreigners), and for me to compare Belize (or any other of those places) to my own home is a bit of a non sequitur, as everywhere is different, and I’m from a country that’s famous for its behavioural subtleties, i.e., we’re an unfriendly bunch who don’t speak to anyone unless we absolutely have to.

But there is definitely a different kind of interaction between the sexes here than what there is in Europe or North America.  Many men are more forward with their intentions and some can even be quite aggressive with their advances.  And foreign women, perhaps by being more noticeable, or maybe by being more ‘exotic’ and attractive to the local guys, get particular attention.

Of all the non-Belizean women I’ve known here, virtually every one has had some verbal attention from some local men, ranging from the respectful (“Morning Miss”), to the not-so-subtle (“Hi pretty lady / Hello baby”), to the offensive (“How would you like to ride me instead of your bike?”), to the downright bizarre (“I want to rub your pork!” [I’ve since been informed by my friend Ruth that ‘pork’ is a Creole term for the, ahem, lady parts]).  The chat-up lines and catcalls seem to come from men of every age and race although, unsurprisingly, they come more from the younger guys.

Now, I’m not suggesting that some age groups and races of Belizean men are wholly responsible for this behaviour, and that others don’t even notice women.  I have to admit that on occasions I have a look, although at least I wear my sunglasses, so the girls can’t see me perving at them.  We’re all men at the end of the day, and no matter what race we belong to or what country we’re from or what age we are, we’re all hostages to our testosterone.  Some guys just seem to be more ‘vocal’ with their feelings.

I was once a passenger in a taxi driven by a Creole cabbie, and as he was driving me home, cruising down a main road in Belize City on a quiet afternoon, something took his eye, then he suddenly leaned across me until his dreadlocked head was almost out of my passenger-side window, and yelled at two women walking on the pavement.  I don’t know what worried me more, the blatant shouting or the unsafe driving.  Afterwards I asked him why he felt overcome by the urge to let the ladies know that they were looking “fine and sexy”.  He simply replied, “Well, I’m not going to shout at a man am I? I’m not gay!”

The implication being that, rather than wanting to shout out something, he had to.  Perhaps it was a way of showing to everyone else (and maybe to himself too) that he was a real man, a way of asserting his masculinity.  In that sense foreign women shouldn’t feel that they’re the only recipients of some local men’s attentions, and that it doesn’t matter how they look or what they’re wearing, as the men who do it are doing it to almost every woman, and they’re doing it almost as an automatic reaction, as though they’re supposed to, they’re expected to.  Disturbingly, some of them don’t stop at women, and shout out catcalls to girls who are clearly underage.

As for why, there are probably many reasons.  A combination of the aforementioned machismo (and in a country that’s both Latin American and Caribbean, there’s plenty of that around!), ignorance (the men actually think the women like it, or think that they’d like it if it happened to them), and even some reciprocity (like many annoying intrusions into our lives, from telesales agents to Jehovah’s Witnesses, there must be some people that respond positively to it, and as a result help to justify its continued use, i.e., there must be some women who like it, or appear to like it, or at least don’t object to it).

(On a side note, I don’t know if all this bawdy talk, not to mention the highly sexual dancing, is actually translating into promiscuity, or a breakdown in long-term monogamous relationships.  But Belize does have a large number of one-parent families [over 30%], with over 80% of them headed by women.  So someone’s been putting it about).

And that’s not the only effect.  According to a survey of Belizeans of every race aged 16-24 about HIV and STDs, less than half the respondents knew all the ways to prevent disease transmission (although 71% of males and 73% of females knew about the importance of condoms, 70% of females and just 49% of males knew that having one faithful partner could prevent the spread of diseases).  Belize now has the 5th-highest HIV infection rate in the Americas.  And with the majority of public schools funded and governed by the Catholic Church, there isn’t a great deal in the way of sex education going on.

Ironically, the one group of people who are being subtle and careful in their behaviour are Belize’s small gay community.  Belize isn’t a gay-friendly country, and with the heterosexual cultures of its Latin American and Caribbean inhabitants, plus a strong religious element, most locals have a traditional view of the gender roles.  The law states that sex ‘against the order of nature’ is illegal (although what’s ‘unnatural’ isn’t defined!), but it’s generally taken to include homosexuality, with a maximum sentence of ten years in prison; and homosexuals are outlawed from entering the country, under the Immigration Act.  In practice, the behaviour is known about by everyone (and tolerated by almost everyone), and no gay people have ever been charged, or prevented from entering the country.  But that’s not all down to tolerance, it’s also down to the fact that homosexuals here don’t behave in the same way that heterosexuals do – if two gay men started dancing the way many straight couples do, there’d be a riot.  And I’m sure many straight Belizeans would invoke certain parts of The Bible to justify their antipathy to homosexual behaviour (while conveniently ignoring all the parts of the Good Book that forbid adultery and immorality among heterosexuals).

But that might be about to change.  Last year, an organisation called UNIBAM filed a case in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the anti-homosexual laws.  Needless to say, the churches reacted negatively to this, with one group going so far as to describe it as ‘an orchestrated plan of demonic darkness’!  And Belize’s newspapers (which aren’t exactly bastions of free speech and unbiased journalism) were full of opinion pieces and readers’ letters, ranging from the intelligent to the abhorrent – otherwise-sensible people stating that homosexuality leads to paedophilia, that gays are sub-human, and that passing the law would usher in the moral breakdown of society.

(Personally, I’ve never been able to understand the thinking – if gay sex was legal, if gay marriage was legal, even if there were gays everywhere, it wouldn’t have any effect on these people’s lives.  They wouldn’t suddenly turn gay themselves, the world wouldn’t descend into an orgy of gayness, gays wouldn’t sneak into their houses and steal their children in the night so they could take them off to gayland and turn them gay, and they wouldn’t overthrow the government and declare a gay republic.  They wouldn’t do any of these things because suddenly they now have the same rights as the rest of the country, they’d simply carry on as before, only now they’d be fully-fledged Belizean citizens like everyone else).

Barack Obama and David Cameron then weighed in with their criticisms of countries that criminalise gays, and suggested that they would cut aid to those countries (all this did was make the Belizean government even less inclined to change the law, and prompted a flurry of nationalistic chest-thumping in the media).

What all this proves to me is the less-than-perfect state of things in Belize at the moment, the cultural differences that exist across the world, the importance of education in young people (and the counter-productive role that religion often plays) in effecting positive changes, and the pivotal role that men of all ages and races play in the healthy development of children and communities.

Footnote: I’ve done my best to word this post as objectively and sensitively as possible.  I’ve also done quite a bit of research into all the numbers, and sourced all my evidence (my journalistic integrity forces me to do that with all my posts!).  I’ve also made a point of presenting everything that isn’t a provable ‘fact’ as my opinion.  I’m very lucky to know some fine Belizeans of every race, age, and gender.  So please don’t think that I’m aiming my views against all Belizeans, or one race or gender of Belizeans, or that I’m saying these sorts of things only happen in Belize (sadly, they happen wherever there are men and women, including the UK, but crucially, these issues have declined as people’s attitudes have changed).  And there’s always a chance I could be misinformed about one thing, or ignorant about another.  If anyone has any opinions different to mine, I’d love to hear them.  If anyone has a different interpretation of things, please let me know.  And if anyone knows something I don’t, please educate me.

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31 thoughts on “Battle of the (Belizean) Sexes

  1. Ren,

    You’re a meat man aren’t you?

    Eat pork and be thankful, it is close to Xmas now after all!

    Sent an email to you this week. Did you get it?

    Love,
    SJC

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    • SJC,

      As you well know, I’ve always been a meat man, and I do like my porcine products. Especially if it’s served with cat litter and hairballs, and washed down with dog water.

      No email though, you must’ve sent it to your other friend Ren ;-(

      RH.

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  2. As a woman this is one of the most trying aspects of life here. I have never felt threatened by any of the commenters, and men don’t grab or pinch you in the street, it’s all verbal. We Brits are more uptight than most, so it is probably the ultimate culture clash. I will admit to being amused by some comments, and mild flirtation can be fun. It feels a little churlish to mind when someone shouts ‘you are the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life!’ But the demands for attention (which is what cat calling amounts to – Notice me! Notice me!) are repeated over and over all day – there is something compulsive about it. Men can be ‘real men’ without shouting something sexual at every passing woman. I don’t care what you think about my ass, really… Surely no woman ever gives out to some random guy that shouts at her in the street, so what is the point, other than to harass? Assert dominance? Whatever, it’s annoying. But worse than the commenting is the hissing – that is just insulting, plain and simple. 

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    • Well said Viv – as the cartoon shows, I think most men probably don’t have a clue as to how it feels, and probably think it must be quite nice to be ‘complimented’ all the time. But as someone who stands out by virtue of his whiteness and foreignness, there are plenty of times I wish I could just fade into the crowd, with various people shouting at me during the course of an average day. And my interactions don’t have any weird or uncomfortable sexual element. I’m glad I’m not a woman, and I’m very glad I’m not a woman here, it must be quite trying sometimes simply to have a vagina (although I’m sure there are benefits too!).

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  3. Good read! I think it’s interesting to also consider the way the economy influences gender roles and gendered behaviour. For instance, if boys learn that being ‘a man’ means being a breadwinner, and there are limited opportunities to earn a good living (as is true in Belize), then often the only other options men are given to display masculinity/male identity/power is through violence and sexual prowess. I think the only solution is to combine economic development with modelling to the next generation that a man who is respectful and non-violent is still a real man.

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    • That’s a really interesting point Emma – I was so focused on the sociological/cultural aspects of the subject that I completely forgot about the economic ones. As a man who’s been lucky enough to have an education and do a variety of stimulating and fulfilling (and sometimes well-paid) jobs, I’ve always been able to ‘express my masculinity’ (for want of a better way of putting it) by working hard, earning money, and feeling that I’ve contributed to something (even if the most manly thing I do is move a computer!). And in the case of my work here in Belize, even if I’m not earning a truck-load of money or making important decisions or leading a team of people, I still have a fair amount of responsibility, and I have a job that makes a difference to the organisation I work for and to the people we serve. Maybe if I didn’t have all those things I’d feel a little emasculated, and find other ways of expressing it? I’m too self-conscious to shout at women though, I’d probably just watch sports and drink beer!

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  4. I don’t like the hissing either….but I try not to take it as any more offensive than a wolf whistle…hissing here IS how people get your attention….kids hiss at their best friend on the other side of class to get their attention, Mayan mothers do it to their babies to get attention…at least that is what I’ve observed. Hate it – I’m not a snake after all – but not sure it is meant any worse than any other attention seeking noise.

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    • I understand what people mean about the hissing – it is a rather disturbing way to get someone’s attention! But as you say Ruth, it’s also just one of the ways people communicate here. And as Viv mentioned, there is a meeting of different cultures going on as well. People do things differently in different countries – an American friend of mine once worked in Nigeria, and told me that there people hiss, whistle, and snap their fingers to get other people’s attentions. He said that a Nigerian friend of his once came to the States to see him and the poor guy spent the first day being berated by everyone from shop staff to taxi drivers, after he whistled and snapped his fingers at them!

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  5. My only problem with this post is that after several years in Belize, you didn’t “taak kriol” when you said “pork” which would have been far more entertaining! ;) …. I do get hissed at sometimes but only if my husband isn’t around – so at least they respect HIM … LOL … After being hissed at several times by some guy outside a grocery store I finally asked him if he thought I’d be so swept off my feet that I’d actually run over and take him home with me – sadly due to my “American” accent my whole statement was lost in translation! :D Good job John!

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    • I’m sorry Carla, after all this time I still can’t (or maybe won’t) talk Creole – everytime I’ve tried I can’t do it, it makes me feel racist, as though I’m doing a bad impression of a black person, and I just end up overdoing it and sounding like Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars! It’s interesting that the hissing (or whistling) guys don’t do it when your husband’s around – I wonder if they’d pay more attention if it was him that told them not to do it, rather than the woman? A few weeks ago in San Pedro, a guy (who looked and sounded like he was from southern Europe) came up to me and a male friend in a club and asked if any of our female friends (who were on the dancefloor) were our girlfriends, and then asked if it was ok to dance with them. I was flattered by the old-school-gentlemanly aspect of it, but at the same time, it was a little strange – we didn’t own those girls, just because there are guys and girls out together it doesn’t mean the girls need to ask permission from the guys to do anything. And even if one of them was my girlfriend, I wouldn’t own her either, and she could not only dance with whoever she wanted to, but more importantly, she could decide herself. As it turns out, after a few minutes of watching the swarthy gigolo busting his moves in front of them, the girls suddenly decided they’d had enough dancing!

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    • Kay – first of all, thank you for reading the blog and commenting! According to the data from the UN, World Bank, and WHO it’s 8%. But that’s averaged out across the whole country, so it will be lower in some areas and higher in others. Depending on where you live in Belize (I don’t think I know you personally, so I’m not sure if you live in Belize, and if you do, whereabouts you live), it may be (or may seem to be) higher or lower. I dare say it’s much higher for certain ethnic groups (eg, the Maya) and socio-economic groups (eg, poorer people with lower educational levels) than for others.

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    • Kay – in case you haven’t been keeping up with the comments (especially between Ruth and myself), I made a mistake with the 8% rate – the number is correct, but not the definition. 8% is the country’s adolescent fertility rate (the number of births per 1000 women aged 15-19 per year), it’s not the number of adolescent women who have children. And if the adolescent fertility rate is 8%, this means that up to 40% of women have at least one child by the age of 19. So, when you said 8% is low, it is, it should be 40%. My apologies for the mistake.

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  6. Hi John – your pedantic fact checker friend here! I still think you didn’t word it right where you say “8% of Belizean women have at least one child by the age of 19” – as you agreed when I sent you that doc on Facebook, 2000 figures said, that by age 19, 33% of Belizean women had at least one kid. Far far higher. Yes, averaged over all teenage years, the fertility is lower. But fact is, by the time their 19, 33% had a kid in 2000. And the trend was rising between 1990 and 2000….whether it is still rising, I’m not sure, but I still say 8% is too too low – most Belizean 19 year olds I know have a kid!

    Also Emma is totally right about the socioeconomic side…also the educational side. Boys stop education here far earlier than women. Most jobs for men in Belize require little education (most of the jobs are still in agriculture), and so as soon as they start doing not so good at school, especially at high school (where costs are high and direct fees are levied), families just pull them out and send them to work. That’s what happened to Ray and all his brothers. By the time you get to uni here, women outnumber men something like 2:1. So the men, as an average (hate averages…) are very poorly educated. Also doesn’t help attitudes!

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    • Hi Ruth! Back to the numbers eh? I’m so glad I’m not a statistician! With the 33% statistic, is that 33% of all Belizean women, or 33% of all Belizean teenage women? Because if you take the number of teenage mothers and divide it into the total population of all women (of every age) you’ll get one answer, but if you take the same number and divide it into a much smaller amount (the total number of teenage girls) you’ll get a much higher rate. The original number (the number of teenage mothers) never changed, but the teenage fertility rate will change dramatically based on whatever larger poplulation you’re comparing the original number to. I thought I’d better point that out, in case our stats actually come from the same original figure.

      However, I do agree with you on my wording – having read it and re-read it, I’ve realised that I’ve described the right figure with the wrong description. The teenage fertility rate is not the same as the percentage of girls who have at least one child by the end of their teenage years. So, if the TFR is 8%, the percentage of girls who have at least one child by 19 will be higher – not necessarily 56% (8% times 7 [the number of teenage years]), maybe not 40% (8% times 5 [the number of years between ages 15 and 19, a common definition of teenage]); but still higher than 8%.

      So I’m going to re-word that sentence – I still stand by the 8% figure (because that was stated by so many organisations), but I accept that the rate is not the same as the total amount after several years of the rate. So I think Belize does have a TFR of 8%, but I accept that there are more than 8% of 19-year-old mothers. As for how many, I don’t know – do you think it’s as many as 56% across the country?

      And as I said to Kay, your perspective depends on where you live – in Toledo, with a large number of Maya, plus many poorer, less educated people, I’m sure there are many teenage girls with kids. There certainly seem to be less in Belize City.

      Thanks for your pedantry (I’d look even more foolish if you didn’t advise me!), and my apologies for the confusion. And thanks for the insight into the educational aspects (another side of things I’d not considered).

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      • Hello again :-). I take the 33%, reading the description in the doc, to mean “33% of 19 year olds have at least one child”. Which sounds about right…a little less than the 40% you’d get by crudely multiplying the 8% fertility rate per year x 5 years (15 yrs old, 16 yrs, etc..). I would have said, intuitive guess-wise, it would be somewhere between 30-50%. I would love to know if it’s going up or down!

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        • Hi Ruth. All the places that I got the 8% adolescent fertility rate from (I’ll call it ‘adolescent’, as it doesn’t count girls aged 13 and 14, so it’s not technically ‘teenage’) indicate that the rate has been going down every year, by between 0.5% and 0.1% a year. In 1990 the rate was about 13%, and in 2000 it was about 10%. Since 2005 it seems to be going down at its slowest progression, about 0.1% a year. So, if the birth rate is going down, the number of teen mothers must be too.

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  7. this is interesting most 19year olds i kno..dont have a child..tthe men hissing and courting and sweet wordds dont bother me at all..i just dont want them to touch to..i have a problem…what i do not like though is when they gget disrespectful and would say some stupid or mean because you are passive to wards their comments…..

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    • Thanks for the comment spar. I’d be interested to know whereabouts in Belize you live, it might be an area of the country that has a lower adolescent birth rate, and fewer teenage mothers. Did you grow up in Belize, or somewhere where the vocal male behaviour is ‘normal’? I ask because then it may be that you just got used to guys acting like that, it was just ‘how they are’, ‘boys will be boys’ kind of thing. Personally, I’ve never seen or heard of any man touching or grabbing, it seems to be mostly just verbal. And yeah, it must be annoying to have a guy holler at you, and then call you a name, just because you didn’t respond to him in the first place! These are the kinds of guys that definitely need some ‘education’.

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  8. Great post!
    Well I agree that some comments are quite “flattering” while others are simple harrasment. I always wondered
    – if white girls like me simple have a different understanding where flattering ends and harrasment starts?
    – with how many girls, independant from the skin colour, the men have success. Are there really women that go with them when they get a “hi baby – let me show you my (fill in masculine animal picture)”… and what happens then? A smart conversation? Candle light dinner? Or wild orgies behind the kiosk shack across the swamp and they are done after x minutes?
    – if they really think every white women is a sinner that is just waiting for such an invitation for (….)?

    Plus another “inter-cultural” point is sex-tourism in Belize. Not so much in Belize City but what I´ve seen on some cayes….Wow. Women of all ages (yes, that means hippie-spring-breakers to cougars) love the attention. I´m neither sure nor care about the deeper (no pun intended…) intentions of such relationships but they obviously support the “native male behaviour”.

    The dancing… well. Interesting enough that the males dance in a quite similiar way with shaking their booty, sometimes better than a lot of girls do – and like you said, it´s orginally based on some traditional dances (for males and females) yet still strange for an European eye to look at.

    All in all – I agree with your points and I guess it´s an endless story. You can start from missing/”wrong” father figures at home to christian mis-lead values about family structure, must and must-nots throughout life, education, tolerated abuse, money, media influence and so on and so forth.
    Guess you can write a chapter for each sub-section in your beloved british humor =) We miss you!

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    • Hi Kerstin! Thanks for the comment. Regarding foreign, i.e. white, women hooking up with local guys, that’s something else I didn’t consider. I’ve always been surprised by the number of women that do that whilst on holiday / travelling – in some places (beach resorts in certain countries) there’s always the crowd of long-haired / dreadlocked / tattooed, surfer / guitar player guys, who are often charming and handsome, but who run their lines on every women they see. Are there women out there who actually believe that these guys think that they have the most beautiful eyes the guy has ever seen?! I don’t know much about women, but I know that plenty of them seem to have quite low opinions of their physical attractiveness, so maybe some of them really do fall for that sh*t. I guess if you’re old enough to know the score, cynical enough to see it for what it really is, and sensible enough to be careful about it, then why not? Foreigners will always find the locals attractive and exotic, and locals will always find the foreigners attractive and exotic and rich! (I’m not in any way condoning sex tourism or making light of paedophilia or any of the other problems, I’m just saying that this sort of thing has always happened and always will, and if both parties are adults I don’t really mind). But I agree with you, I wonder if constantly seeing ‘available’ western women getting together with the first local man that compliments them, has an effect on the local guys’ attitudes?

      I miss you both too, it looks like you’re having a great time in Oz. Keep in touch and take care!

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  9. I’ve changed the last few lines at the end of the first paragraph – Belize has an adolescent fertility rate of 8%, which means that up to 40% of all 19-year-old women have at least one child. Thanks to Ruth for continually pointing out the truth to me until the penny finally dropped!

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  10. Hi John,

    I was notified of this article by a Belizean woman very interested in doing some media coverage of this topic. I wrote this article a couple of years ago and it was published in the San Pedro Sun – http://www.sanpedrosun.com/community-and-society/2011/08/27/catcalling-the-lioness-street-harassment-in-paradise/. I’ve taught over 1,000 women and girls self-defense in this country since 2002, and not once has a woman in my class, or even my students at the different schools where I taught, told me they LIKE street harassment. I’ve had a couple who have told me that, when they didn’t respond favorably to the harassment, the men became physically violent. This is a worldwide problem and that is why there are movements like stopstreetharassment.org and others working around the world. Some places the harassment is much worse and others it is much less than Belize, but it’s still happening. All the women who I knew that read my article had commented that they agree. I’m hoping some of the men would take that advice.

    I think the real problem is that these are strangers or men that the women don’t know well. Parents and school aged peers hissing at one another isn’t a problem, because the others are known to them. I’ve also noticed the things men say are quite different, depending on the area of the country. In my experience, the most disgusting things have been said to me in the north of the country – Corozal and Orange Walk. In Punta Gorda, usually the men are very polite, just saying “Good morning, Miss.” or sometimes calling me “strong gyal”, which I do take as a compliment. Only once did three guys have a nasty comment to say, and they might still be in shock when I told them that, along with my “fat ass”, was a big fat black belt, and I could show them the self-defense techniques that I taught if they really want to see them. Thanks for writing this. I truly think that only by women letting men know it’s not acceptable, and by men starting to correct one another, will this stop.

    I also see another comment regarding sex tourism and all that. Many Belizeans, male and female, think that white women are promiscuous and wild in sexual behavior. I think this is because most of them are used to seeing white people as tourists. I was quite shocked when a great female friend was shocked when I told her about the first time I had sex, and that it was with my husband and I was an adult. Because of that, we ended up having a long conversation, and I think that because the tourists behave much differently than they would at home where people know them, it gives Belizeans a skewed view of white women.

    http://www.sanpedrosun.com/community-and-society/2011/08/27/catcalling-the-lioness-street-harassment-in-paradise/

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    • Hi Renee.

      Thanks for the link to your post – it expresses a similar sentiment to the post where I found the street harrassment cartoon – http://madamenoire.com/138409/the-severity-behind-every-street-holla/ – and is equally well-written.

      I agree, the cat-calling must be even worse for women when it’s from a man they don’t know – I wonder how many rapes start off like that, with a strange guy saying a few ‘friendly’ words to a woman he doesn’t know? So it must make women even more on edge, not knowing whether it’s a casual hello or the start of something potentially much worse.

      You mention that the things men say are different depending on the area of the country, with the worst (for you) being the north – is that because of the larger numbers of hispanic men, or do the comments come from a variety of ethnicities? At first, I thought that the men doing all this were predominantly black, but as I live in Belize City (and most of the people I see are Creole), that’s an un-scientific assumption. And I’ve been told by female friends of mine that they’ve received comments from every race of men. So I wonder if it’s less an ethnic or race issue and more a nation-wide cultural issue (although there are many other countries in the world where this issue exists, and it certainly used to exist in the UK).

      A friend of mine at The Red Cross always used to confront men that said things to her, and would always ask them how they’d like it if a man spoke to their own mother or daughter that way. Which is the same point you make in your article, and it seemed to work with most of the guys.

      I also agree that some Belizeans (especially the older, more conservative ones, and maybe the ones who live on the cayes) must have a slightly one-sided view of foreigners, as they only see them as tourists, and as you say, tourists often dress and act in a way they would never do at home. But I don’t think Belizeans on the whole are prudish people and are easily shocked by the antics of tourists – have you seen what people wear and how they dance here? I’ve often found that tourists are shocked by Belizean dancing and think that the locals must be constantly at it like a pack of dogs on heat, and some Belizeans may well think that white women are crazy and loose-moralled.

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