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The Editor Speaks: What is “Cultural misunderstanding?”

The press, and not just locally, is having a field day with the arrest of Cayman Islands Speaker of the House, McKeeva Bush, for allegedly groping a woman employee at a Florida casino.

The police who arrested Bush say they not only have the alleged victim’s sworn statement but they also have a video of the incident.

Bush’s lawyer is arguing his client is victim of “cultural misunderstanding” and therefore innocent. When his innocence has been proven Bush will be demanding an apology the lawyer added.

Excuse me.

Gambling is illegal here in the Cayman Islands. It would appear that our newly elected Speaker of the House has a serious gambling addiction.

If any one deserves an apology it is everybody resident here in the Cayman Islands.

What example is this for Bush to represent our country? He gave this country negative publicity for his gambling habit when he was our premier and this has happened again. If he has any respect for the people of this country, and the West Bay constituents who voted for him, plus the churches he visits and speaks at, he must apologise for his gambling alone.

Bush is not just an ordinary citizen. He represents this country wherever he goes whilst he remains in office.

Independent Kenneth Bryan is absolutely wrong in saying Bush is innocent until proven guilty and cries for his immediate resignation by his fellow MLA’s are too soon. His fellow MLAs actually in a Press Release called on the government to take “the necessary action to restore dignity, honour and prestige to the position of the Speaker”.

Very cleverly they did not actually call for Bush’s resignation. They gave no help whatsoever in how the government should execute this without insisting he resigns and we must pray for his family. You can read their short PR here on iNews that would get the writer entrance to the Grand Order of Gobble-de-gook.

Now let us come to his questionable defence, “Cultural misunderstanding”.

What exactly is this?

On the website Psychology Today Jefferson M Fish Ph.D. gives us a definition of it as:

“…complications that can arise from a cultural misunderstanding. A cultural misunderstanding occurs when something–a word, gesture, object, social context, almost anything you can think of–has different meanings in two cultures. Sometimes the misunderstandings get resolved, sometimes they lead nowhere, and sometimes they can escalate to anything from love to war.”

And sometimes they can get you arrested.

Fish goes on to say:

Consider the Latin Lover. It is not a concept you come across in Latin America. It seems to be an American stereotype–perhaps shared by some other non-Latin cultures. One possible origin of the concept is in a cultural misunderstanding regarding personal space. While there are variations throughout Latin America, and in the United States as well, in general Latin Americans stand closer to one another when speaking than do Americans. When a Latin American man is talking to an American woman, from her point of view he is entering her personal space. There are several reasons an American man might do so, one of which is erotic interest. If she finds him attractive, and interprets his proximity as a sign of interest–even though he had no such intent–she may reciprocate. Cultures differ in how men respond to unsolicited expressions of interest from a woman, and machismo varies from place to place in Latin America, but in general it is quite likely that the man will respond in turn, leading to an escalation of sexual interest, and providing “evidence” for the Latin Lover stereotype.

I asked this question to various people and also initiated a search on social media. The verdict was almost universal:

Q. “Is pinching someone’s butt sexual assault?”
A. “It’s on the lower end of the scale but it is assault if someone, male or female, puts a hand on another against their wishes.”
“Legally yes– and also morally, in my opinion.
“This country (USA) has a terrible attitude about non-consensual touching. When a woman does it to a man, it’s “Sure he should be delighted” and when a man does it to a woman, it’s “Sure that’s normal, and boys will be boys”. Touching someone without their consent is wrong, especially in a “sexual” area (bum, breasts, genitals).
“Don’t put your hands on someone’s bits without their consent. This should not be a hard edict to follow, and social pressure should be brought to bear on those who do otherwise instead of making excuses for it and encouraging them.”

An article appeared in the UK’s Daily Mail FOUR years ago on the same subject:

Yes, men, bottom-pinching IS sexual assault – and cat-calling offends us, too: Why it’s time to stamp out everyday sexism and stop telling women to ‘lighten up’
Laura Bates, 26, is the London-based an founded the Everyday Sexism blog
Believes many women don’t realise they have been sexually assaulted
Says her site has given women confidence to speak up about sexism
Site has nearly 250,000 entries and reaches first birthday on 16 April
To read the whole thing go to:


A good friend of mine, a mature female born and bred in Jamaica but lives here, and has for forty years plus, answered my question so:

“Whenever I go back to Jamaica I still get my bottom pinched and not only by male friends. Strangers do it, especially at the markets. I was brought up on it and it has never bothered me. However, it has never happened to me here living on Grand Cayman. Even by Jamaicans living here.”

My wife, Joan, is Caymanian and she told me she has never had it happen to her here and would not like it one bit. She did, however, say when she was much younger it was a habit of young boys to do it to young girls in West Bay! For that reason she was banned from going alone to West Bay unless she was accompanied by her father who was the Chief of Police!!

In England, and many years ago, pinching a ladies bottom was called “being goosed”. It was normally carried out on persons one were familiar with by both men and women. Especially by persons peculiar to the acting profession.

At the funeral of the British actor Sir John Mills, Dame Judi Dench fondly recalled that she could usually count on being goosed on stage at least 10 times a performance by him.

The times they are a changing. And “when you are in my neck of the woods you obey my rules or pay the price”.

Nowhere in any history book of the Cayman Islands and its people have I ever heard pinching a ladies bottom, especially a complete stranger without her consent was anyway cultural.



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