Women’s Voices: Feminism and Calypso in Barbados

How to Cite

Women’s Voices: Feminism and Calypso in Barbados. (2023). Tout Moun Caribbean Journal of Cultural Studies, 8(1). https://journals.sta.uwi.edu/ojs/index.php/toutmoun/article/view/8806


Calypso is an oral tradition of the Anglophone Caribbean rooted in the period of African enslavement. Calypso, regarded as a powerful social instrument that addresses local, regional and international issues, is used to protest against oppression and ridicule those in power through satire and is a form of entertainment. Calypso, which was popularised in the twentieth century, gives calypsonians the power to be the voice of the masses, and this voice has been historically male. However, mainly from the post-independence period, women’s voices entered the theatrical space of calypso in the region. This article examines women’s voices in calypso through their participation in the Crop Over Festival of Barbados by documenting their involvement in the calypso tents and the country’s calypso competition called the Pic-O-De Crop. The discussion starts primarily from the 1980s when Barbados gained its first female calypso monarch. It highlights some outstanding Barbadian female calypsonians and analyses a selection of calypsos on women’s issues relating to oral feminism in popular culture.