A Brief Note on Benz Punany/Punani
You know I was going to leave this alone and tackle my weekly chores, but as I stood washing some dishes and deciding whether I should bake next or clean the bathroom this morning’s Twitter banter kept running in my head. I even sat to write once the dishes were done, left the computer in frustration to clean bathroom, and still the morning exchanges bothered me.
One of the hottest songs in Jamaica is Kartel’s “Benz Punany” and it’s caused many women to proclaim that their goods are either benz-like or better. Some have gone the opposite direction by proclaiming what their punanis are not (i.e. Encava buses, taxis, etc…). This is hardly earth shattering lyrical content since Grindsman deejayed this song ages ago (“Benz Punany“) and even R.Kelly has compared a woman (if not her vagina) to a car (“You Remind Me Of Something“). Now to each his own but I’m not engaging in any comparison of my vagina to a car or any other material object, which led to the following tweet
I figured this would be an uncontroversial statement but ahh, apparently not…? I’m not going to discuss the implicit commodification of women in these songs (and sometimes similar sentiment about commodification is suggested about men) or explore whether dancehall is in fact misogynistic. Let’s save that for another time. Here I am genuinely interested in some exploration of the two unexpected responses from @justsherman and @djbrucki both of whom I know like to engage in varying degrees of serious banter back on a variety of topics…but I didn’t expect this
Say what now? When and how does priceless mean that something is free?
I was so flummoxed that I went hunting in my trusty Pocket Oxford and on Merriam-Webster‘s online dictionary because I was seriously beginning to wonder if I’d misunderstood the meaning of priceless all along. My search turned up the following results: priceless means “very valuable” (Oxford) and “having a value beyond any price : invaluable,” “costly because of rarity or quality : precious,” and “having worth in terms of other than market value” (Merriam-Webster). I even found an online etymology service that dates the word from the 16th century and takes it to mean “beyond estimation.” O OK. Because that’s the sentiment that I wished to express, that punani/punany/vagina shouldn’t be compared to a material object and assigned a monetary value. Quite simply, I reject the idea of assigning a quantifiable ratio to the value of a human body (or any of its parts) in a commercial exchange context. No price fixing allowed!
Wait did they mean that because I’ve said that punani is incapable of being priced that it will therefore be given away without cost and is therefore free? O. Well. No, actually. When I say priceless I mean that it is (and if not should be) absolutely and completely removed from the man-made concept of price. It’s a high standard but there it is nonetheless. Why? Because for me there are just some things so important that they shouldn’t be demeaned in this way. Actually this isn’t about price; it’s about being unwilling to conform to some of society’s more dangerous practices. Next thing we’re negotiating about the make and model of whatever material object serves as a comparison – whether it’s used or not, whether it’s fully loaded, what colour and the expense of detailing in that colour, etc… and then I have to measure up. Child, what?!
Now this may seem inconsqeuential to you but please allow me to suggest the following: whatever crude (e.g. “benz punany”) or sophisticated methods (e.g. actuarial science or calculation of wrongful death tort damages) there may be to comment on or appraise and assign value to humanity for limited purposes need to be confined to their realms and need not escape into regular usage and practice. It’s not a foreign concept actually; society has basically done the same through the law, which bars us from paying for and trading in body parts (e.g. kidneys for transplants) because the human body is considered incapable of valuation. It’s a moral issue. While folks donate organs they don’t do so without some cost to themselves; the cost just isn’t measurable in monetary terms (outside of say the hospital bill). Why should it be any different when the context is sexual and concerns a woman’s (or man’s body)? Isn’t it especially within this context that we should be careful about associating the parts of us capable of the most intimacy with a man-made price system?
So yeah it’s “just another dancehall tune” but don’t let it bamboozle you into nonsensical behaviour. Especially not when Mark Wignall writes of “A troubling chat with our future.” Not when @uncensored_mind blogs about a Jamaica Gleaner article where a teen, with hopes of being a nurse, expresses her fervent wish for a baby to “give” to her boyfriend because he’s “so good” to her. See the problem with starting down this road? What happens when we no longer measure up to this expensive object or s/he’s no longer good to you? What then? See how poor self-esteem can take root? What the consequence of not knowing & demanding that your body + mind + ideas are so precious that shouldn’t be traded away or compared willy nilly?
So no thanks, I’m not going to start compromising my self-esteem like that. There’s already too much out there that I don’t have control over that’s assaulting me each day.
And by the way, gentlemen, your penises too can and should be priceless…it’s not a feminine concept or ideal. In fact, some of y’all could do with putting more value on yourselves; it’s not just women who are guilty of this debilitating nonsense.
Yeah so that’s all I have to say about “benz punany.” I’m going to finally bake now (banana walnut muffins)