While our living rooms are bombarded with American television reports of a country fixated on a porn star believed to have been paid to keep quiet about sleeping with the man who would become president, Barbados risks becoming fixated on a woman who has made a living sleeping with people, and her quest to rise to the top of the political ladder.
In the United States Stormy Daniels – real name Stephanie Gregory Clifford – who claimed she had sex with Donald Trump before he became president, is the talk of the town.
In Barbados, Natlee – real name Natalie Harewood – who is a well-known sex worker, hopes to become the toast of the town after her announcement this week that she plans to contest the upcoming general election in The City.
It would seem Ms Harewood has come to realize that she has a much higher calling than pleasing a privileged few, and that is to serve the underprivileged majority.
“I want to help people, especially the poor, and I’m not coming to be fake, I’m coming real . . . I’m going to put my best foot forward and that is a promise,” the prostitute, who calls herself a “night jobber”, posted to her 38,000 Instagram followers.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction has been varied, ranging from the sinister to the serious, from levity to lasciviousness, from flabbergast to forgiveness.
‘[I] don’t see the difference; most politicians are prostitutes anyway!” Anthony Dowe posted on Barbados TODAY’s Facebook page.
The signs are that there is a perverse joy among some about Ms Harewood’s announcement, many salivating in expectation that she will bare all and come clean with the people whose trust and votes she expects to earn, and who see those who sneer at what she does as prigs, prudes and puritans.
On the other hand, there are those who see her decision as nothing short of ostentatious and brazen vulgarity, and an attempt to impose on us her own foetid way of life.
However, Ms Harewood has support. Lots of it; beginning with the Adult Industry Association, which, through its leader, Charles Lewis, did not hide its disdain for career politicians.
“Natalee is clearly a concerned citizen who happens to be a sex worker and it is shameful that Bajans are using her profession to criticize her decision to run for office, yet they are prepared to vote for political prostitutes who hide behind the walls of Parliament. These corrupt, self-serving bastards may not sell their bodies at Bush Hill but they certainly sell their souls for money,” Mr Lewis said today.
“I would prefer to be represented by a prostitute who genuinely has my interest at heart than corrupt politicians whose lack in leadership has brought this country to its knees. In particular politicians whose local and offshore accounts collectively have more money than the national treasury and whose cars individually are worth more than my house,” he added.
In essence, Mr Lewis said what many are thinking: that there are those whose display of pious, sanctimonious, oleaginous and cynical self-righteousness fail to acknowledge that the moral decay which we are so quick to lament is as bad at the top as it is at the bottom.
The very political class that denounce deviance and criminality have great difficulty acknowledging and condemning moral disintegration among their ranks.
We seem to accept it as par for the course when our politicians lie and to cheat with impunity, and we are resigned to, and often fete and celebrate, the ingrained culture of greed and venality among some at the top.
This is the political system Ms Harewood is seeking to enter. It is a system that is open to whomsoever is able to find two endorsers and some loose change – a $250 deposit.
It is a political system that encourages sanctimonious politicians who show that they are prepared to ignore common decency and cross the boundaries of good taste on the campaign trail.
It is not that everyone involved is dishonest, deceitful, indecent or corrupt. Far from it! There are those who work hard for the good of Barbados, who give an honest day’s work and more, and are discreet with the taxpayers’ money.
But the cynicism that so many feel about the political class is often driven, unfortunately, by the behaviour of the very people elected to represent us.
Therefore, any shock expressed by anyone over Ms Harewood’s decision to contest the poll simply because of her profession, is misguided.
Even if voters reject her, the sky turns black over her parliamentary ambitions, and the shadow of a dangerous storm looms over her prospects, Ms Harewood, if she keeps her promise, will create history.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart recently said in defence of his decision to allow Parliament to dissolve without setting an election date: “History is not made by things happening the same way all the time. History is made by doing things differently. It makes no sense saying this is the first time in the history of Barbados that there’s a secondary school in St Thomas named the Lester Vaughan Secondary School, that is how history is made.”
It would be fair to surmise that Mr Stuart is consciously trying to create his own history by allowing the country to drift into the general election.
However, history might be created in the upcoming poll for reasons Mr Stuart probably will not celebrate, and for reasons he could never have imagined if Ms Harewood wins.