Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Barbwire in His Underpants…Hmmmm

Did he wear barbwire as an accessory?  

Barbed Wire

Many years ago in the days of sound systems and juke boxes, the songs that rushed from their speakers were secular and gospel.  One of the secular songs that came to mind on the night of the January 2015 New York blizzard was “Barbwire in His Underpants”.  While I waited, worried about the outcome of the blizzard, I smiled and said to myself that Nora Dean, Jamaican reggae artiste, now turned gospel singer must have been in a mischievous mood when she decided to sing that song.  In the song she wails for her Mama, telling her that she encountered a male with “barbwire in his underpants”.  At the time the song was released I was old enough to know that barbwire was one of the many pseudonyms for the penis but regardless my focus then wasn’t on the penis.  Instead it was about the rhythm of the song. It invites and encourages real dancing and not the kind that the penis would have welcomed.  

During cold weather people are inclined to reflect, be cozy and warm and feel amorous.  However, on the night of that blizzard I was anything but amorous as I played the Barbwire song over and over in my head. I thought about barbwire in its true form.  It is the most feared commodity because of its details: wire with a bunch of short, sharp spikes set at intervals.  It is used as a barricade and sometimes stretches many yards along property divides. There are some people who will bravely hang wet clothes on it to dry as if it were a clothesline; and then when it comes time to retrieve them, they will scream and curse if a garment is ripped or a finger is pricked.

Clothes Line

By all accounts, my focus about “Barbwire in his underpants” during the night of the blizzard had shifted from the lively rhythm, not that I have given up on it, to a somber thought about the lyrics.  Two major opinions came to mind.  Firstly, I thought about the callous behavior of a male who would force himself on a female and rob her of her virginity in a messy manner.  Any design used with the intensity of barbwire can be brutal.  Secondly, I thought about its lyrics and compared them to the songs that are now sung and played in the Jamaican dancehall. Though not wordy the mere mention about underpants and the threat to hit the assailant with a stone is ample material to warrant judgment.  It harbors no difference. It carries a piece of the social issues taking place in our society but in a more respectful manner.  Dancehall goers and listeners on hearing that song, today, would probably call the song nonsense because they have become used to the vulgar, bellicose, insensitive vibes of the dancehall.  It is a pity that the artistes and authors of the songs cannot convey, as I see it, their messages to the younger people in a more peaceful and decent manner.  

The elders back in the day used to inject fear in the young girls to instill morale and to keep them out of harm’s way.  They had a peculiar way of doing so as most of them in those times felt embarrassed to talk to children about sexual intercourse.  They told almost everything in parables and maxims; and when they were tired of doing that they gave relevant books to read. The barbwire song is a perfect example of how they coded things.  As the Barbwire song continues to play in my head, I stand by my own interpretation:  It is that of a naive girl who was robbed of her virginity.  Her recourse was to wail for her mother repeatedly as she told her about the rough sex and the effort she made to hit her assailant with a brick.

Accordingly, in an effort to warn and protect the girls of today about such an encounter, how cool would it be for the elders to tell them from a young age that men do carry barbwire in their underpants?  Ahahaa… this question hands up and hands down falls in the preposterous basket and deserves another round of laughter.  This is backed by the old statement, “What was once hidden from the wise and old, is now revealed to the babe and suckling”. To further cement the matter, technology has left no room for such tricks from the elders as access to information becomes available.   

Tah-tah!  Speak easy about hurt. Do not hold it in.

Grace Dunkley-Asphall Copyright © 2015


  1. A hope no more blizzard nu come, yu a think too much, yu might have to go do laundry.

  2. I was just listening to this sing and felt overwhelmed with sadness. It's a brilliant song in every way but the heaviness of the subject matter(and I agree with your interpretation) made me feel sorrow.