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

Yep, I’m priceless and not ashamed to say it. No freeness around here.

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

 

From @djbrucki

or this

From @justsherman

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?!

No.

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) 🙂

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Comments
29 Responses to “A Brief Note on Benz Punany/Punani”
  1. Mamachel says:

    Agreed … But i will dance to it :p

  2. Aurie says:

    i’m all about free speech, but there are better ways to flatter the female anatomy without being as vulgar as Kartel. it’s just not my style or approach. but yuh know weh dem seh bout roach? “no approach”

    • Hahaha you sound like my brother with the roach approach = no approach. In my opinion, with free speech comes a lot of responsibility especially for those in positions of power…that said, we all now, should know, or are learning (as with children) to pick sense from nonsense so speaking up about something is as important as the right of the original speaker to say what s/he feels.

  3. @GangstaGent says:

    I agree totally 🙂 and to say the least i myself have not even taken it upon my head to listen to the song…dont even know how it go lol

  4. Shumpynella says:

    Couldnt agree w u more…this idea if benz punany fits right in with what I think of most dancehall anyway.

  5. ive never heard the song but i agree with the sentiment.

    maybe the two gents were trying to be “cute” and play on the words “price less” which is entirely different from “priceless”? maybe they really dont know the difference (like “a part” and “apart”)?

    maybe they just didnt think u were serious about ur statement? honestly certain comments and contexts shouldnt be used unless u know all the parties extremely well and are in tune with their sensibilities.

    • Yes some things for certain contexts. However, my twitter has for most of its existence been used by my to express my self in an unfettered way. I am serious, I joke around, I flirt…most of my followers will see that within a short time of following. The 2 gentlemen in question know me and sensibilities outside of twitter so I have no doubt that they knew I was serious, nor do I doubt that they were serious + knew exactly what I meant. Just so it goes sometimes, eh? Disagreements are the fabric of life.

  6. missgoodas says:

    Well said Madame. Although I’ve previously proclaimed the value of mine as platinum lol! And wouldn’t ya know @justsherman countered that rhodium was valued higher.

  7. Reneé says:

    Oh you know DJ Brucki too? Small world (a friend of mine here also knows him).

    And yea gwaan seh it priceless. Mine is too.

  8. Lloydette says:

    I was off twitter for awhile n hence missed that tweet, I wud have most certainly co-signed it.

    But as u sed, disagreements r a fabric of life, n evrybody is entitled 2 there own opinion n we r not bound 2 accept r share d same.

    While I haven’t heard d song myself, I have heard of d song on numerous occasions and have seen references to it via twitter. My interest jus haven’t been piqued enuf 2 go in search of it.

    But to each his own. But is priceless mi sey!

  9. Carole-Anne says:

    Great post AS USUAL Ren! Anyway, I couldn’t agree with you more!

  10. Well said, I’m in agreement, I think by placing that sort of value on your body, you are invariably saying that your body can be attained by anyone who can provide that value. Which equates to you trading your body for something material. Which last time i checked was prostitution. So all the ladies out there screaming about their benz punany need to think about the message they are sending.

  11. Miss Sara says:

    Lemme just say this.. a) it’s Kartel. That’s the content of most of his songs. b) it’s Twitter, where most (& this proves) of the ppl on there are illiterate as FACK OR they like to argue. I think a lot of ppl get off on arguing… & then they RT the argument to their followers; negative attention seeking whores. *le sigh*

    • Dang Sara tell ’em why you mad! Not negative attention seeking in this case but I think arguing to be facetious or provoking…either way, didn’t connect for me.

      As for Kartel: yah…that’s why I didn’t even address him; waste of time that.

  12. CJ says:

    Not sure why you are surprised at the responses. Anyway, I hope that you posted the meaning of the word ‘priceless’ for @djbrucki and @justsherman and all the others who don’t know the meaning of that word.

    As for Kartel, that’s another story. To think that he is an ‘icon’ for several young people in Jamaica and Caribbean. Interesting, I don’t see a lot of people in this neck of the woods ‘bleaching’. Do you think that people going to stop bleaching in Jamaica the near future?

    • Surprised I know the gentlemen, if even slightly. I understand the element of facetiousness but it’s just not a funny issue.

      As for bleaching, it’s been going on in Jamaica for years now. That and chicken pill taking. Kartel has simply put it front and center without apology…perhaps that will encourage folks to bleach more or have the reverse effect of shaming folks into not doing it or making them think twice about bleaching for fear of looking like a duppy and being cast as a fool. I hope for the latter results.

  13. nubienne says:

    the cake soap has seeped into his brain.

  14. so are u a dancehall fan? had you not heard vybz kartel before? i mean i dont get why youre offended..the entire dancehall scene is deeply intertwined with sex, and very vulgar and explicit when compared to the USAs music. clearly you knew this if you are listeinng to benz punany, so this post seems pretty pointless. its just you using lots of big words to put down a song you took way to literally. if youre offended by this song, then why not every other vybz song? the song is about wanting a girl who is clean and doesnt sleep around. that girl is like a benz cuz shes desired more so than an easy woman, and wont give u a rash. it may be crude, but so what? do you honestly think it would get attention if it were a clean version about not comparing woman to objects? its a dancehall song…have u seen how they dance in jamaica? wtf do u expect?

    • Thanks for reading my blog post and for leaving a comment, though I don’t think you’ve read much else on it.

      Why, yes, I’ve heard of Dancehall, I am Jamaican. Heard of Kartel too; I used to be a fan. And shocker, I am a fan of the genre. I know quite well that Dancehall has this little penchant for raunch and sex; that is part of the reason behind its name after all. I know all about daggering and have been known to even position on a dancefloor. (I couldn’t manage the daggering though, it was a tad much.) But then there was the issue of how daggering eclipsed everything in the dancehall, which is not the way Dancehall has been or should be. Dancehall used to thrive on variety, wit, puns, wonderful metaphors and turns of phrase; in short, creativity…but lately it’s degenerated into dreadful monotony. So yes, I know much about Dancehall. Anyway this post wasn’t about that part of Dancehall.

      Crudeness doesn’t offend me but the outright objectification of a woman’s body does. As does the commodification of human bodies, which really goes beyond Dancehall but I suspect that’s above your head. (It may be useful to you to re-read the paragraph that begins “No this may seem….) What bothers me the most is women and men who hear these songs, internalize them, and then use them as the standard for judging themselves (women) and their (prospective) partners (men). Even said in jest this can be dangerous for things like “self-worth” and “self-esteem” and “self-confidence.” Hence the urging for a Dancehall tune like this not to bamboozle you (the general you) into nonsensical behaviour.

      As a fan and follower of Dancehall music I know that unfortunately not everyone treats it the way you seem to do and the way I prefer – lightly and not too seriously in situations like this. This post was not meant to put down a genre, song, or DJ. This post was just food for thought on these kinds of issues about the place that Dancehall has in wider Jamaican society because it is so popular and such an important part of our culture. I’m sorry that it wasn’t that for you.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gordonswaby, Jherane Patmore, Brittany Blackwood, Nicky Mack and others. Nicky Mack said: If u ♥ it, don’t put a price tag on it! A Brief Note on Benz Punany/Punani – http://wp.me/p10qFp-9c via @cucumberjuice #jamaicanblogger […]

  2. […] A Brief Note on Benz Punany/Punani (January) – The genesis for this post lies in some twitter banter I had with 2 friends that I made on twitter.  Yes, we’re still friends…and I hope that we’ll remain that way for years to come.  They are good men but they know how to push my buttons (and I let my buttons be pushed…sometimes) + they love to play devil’s advocate.  Most of all they’re honest about their views. As folks who follow me on Twitter may know or realize, there are just some things I take seriously and this topic was one of them so I was compelled to blog.  I laugh about it now…but I still hold fast to the views expressed. […]



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