What’s Sexy For The Goose?

The victory of Emmanuel Macron, president of France, is not just about saving his country from the hateful politics of Marine Le Pen and her far-right nationalists. It’s also a celebration of sexual love that decisively penetrates conventional barriers of respectability.

Macron’s wife, Brigitte, is 25 years his senior. She could actually be his grandmother if she grew up in certain societies where adolescent girls get married at a very tender age. But that’s not her culture. So let’s say she could be Macron’s mother. This became an issue in the French election campaign.

It was even rumoured that Macron must be gay to have a wife so much older than himself. She could only be his cover, not his real-real lover. Macron addressed the matter frontally in an interview on Le Parisien TV. He dismissed the speculation about his sexuality as rampant homophobia. The French? Homophobic? I thought Jamaicans, especially our DJs, had the monopoly on homophobia.

Brigitte-Macron-Emmanuel-WifeMacron also described the obsession with his wife’s age as pure misogyny.  If his wife had been 20 years his junior, it would not have been remarkable. The age difference between Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron is exactly the same as that between Melania and Donald Trump. But this hasn’t been an issue for them. I suppose there have been so many revealing distractions that age is a minor matter.

It is true that Brigitte and Emmanuel met in delicate circumstances. He was only 15 and she was his drama tutor at school. It’s not clear whether or not the romance started right away. In any case, the age of consent in France is 15. The affair would have been perfectly legal. But Brigitte was married.

What’s good for the gander is definitely not good for the goose. Married men have affairs all the time. It’s not a big deal for them, it seems. Why are men and women held to such different sexual standards? It appears as if women are not supposed to enjoy sex. Why should women settle for doddering old men? Why shouldn’t we marry hot young men? Who makes up the rules?

SERMON ON THE MOUND

Emmanuel Macron is quite right. It’s prejudice against women, pure and simple, that traps us in our ‘rightful’ place. In the kitchen! And the conditioning starts very early with all those tiny household appliances girls get as Christmas presents.

ge-mothers-day-adThe stereotyping continues right through life. On Mother’s Day, and I’m alarmed that so many men seem to think that women will shiver in delight if they’re given a fridge or a stove. Those are household appliances. They’re not personal toys. Why not give the woman an appliance she can enjoy in the bedroom, the other place in which she’s often trapped?

Which brings me to Ishawna’s sermon on the mound: the mons Venus. I know that the description of Ishawna’s dancehall lyrics as a sermon will seem sacrilegious to many pious readers. And the echoes of the biblical Sermon on the Mount will be even more upsetting. As Ishawna says about her own song, “Nuff ignorant people a go cuss this.”

But the original meaning of ‘sermon’ is not exclusively religious. Technically, what we now call a ‘sermon’ should be more precisely described as a ‘religious sermon’. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, ‘sermon’ comes from the Latin ‘sermonem’. It means ‘continued speech, conversation; common talk, rumour; learned talk, discourse; manner of speaking, literary style’. Originally, a sermon was ‘a stringing together of words’. Much like dancehall lyrics!

EQUAL RIGHTS

Ishawna-9Like many a Christian parson, Ishawna has a burden on her heart. It’s the very same issue that annoys Emmanuel Macron: unequal gender relations. And Ishawna expresses herself most passionately in her decidedly secular sermon. Admittedly, her sexually explicit stringing together of words cannot possibly pass the scrutiny of the Broadcasting Commission. Bleeping can’t help this one. Nothing much would be left.

But Ishawna also uses the occasional clever metaphor. The mouth of the Pepsi bottle is the mound and the lubricant produced by the aroused woman is “bag juice”. I was amused to learn recently that literal bag juice is also called “saline”. Typical Jamaican wit! After all, it does rehydrate. Then it struck me that men who sell bag juice may now start to be worried about the feminisation of their product. What a thing!

Once you get past the X-rated lyrics, the moral of Ishawna’s message is persuasive. Reciprocity in sexual relationships is the principle she advocates. And this extends outside the bedroom into the kitchen. Ishawna asserts that she’s literally eating properly, highlighting the benefits of pineapple juice. And she insists that her sexual partner must also be physically fit.

Naturally, male DJs have responded to Equal Rights. Kip Rich categorically states, “Mi done wid bag juice; mi no waan see no Pepsi.” Does “done” mean that Kip Rich used to enjoy bag juice? If not, that’s quite a slip of the lip.

Like Ishawna, Kip Rich promotes equal rights. He doesn’t pressure his partner to perform certain sexual acts because he’s not going to return the favour. And he advises men to eat healthily so they can function efficiently.

Instead of condemning dancehall culture, in general, and Ishawna’s sermon, in particular, we should all take heed. As the Bible says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Coming Out In Jamaica – Dead Or Alive

Last Wednesday, I got two emails that forced me to write this column. I’d already been thinking about sharing a schizophrenic email that came in response to last Sunday’s column. Homophobia in Jamaica is still so fierce that even writing about the subject makes people point fingers at you. But my back is broad. So mi just a gwaan.

coming-out-450x429Here’s the first email, which I’ve not edited for punctuation errors, etc. So mi get it, so mi give it: “Hello Ms Cooper, how are you?I am an occasional reader of your column and it seems like homosexuality is one of your favourite topics.Tell me something are you in the closet yourself? If not then why such passion and sympathy for these folks. Well, if i am right and you need a hook up feel free to let me know. Peace, love and respect.”

My response: “Thanks for taking the time to send feedback. If you were to read my columns regularly, not just occasionally, you would see that I write on a wide range of topics. I would say that chik-V (and the failure of the Ministry of Health to protect) is one of my recent favourites. You can catch up on my blog – the link is below.

“Then you wonder if I’m in the closet. Your question is a classic example of the fool-fool assumption that a newspaper columnist only writes about his or her personal issues. In any case, I must decline your facetious offer to “hook up” with me. I do not embrace abusive relationships. Best of luck with finding a suitable sexual partner!”

LIVING IN LEVITICUS

That email came from ‘Jordan’. Could be male or female. I suppose s/he was not necessarily proposing her/himself for the ‘hook up’. But the tone of the email is abusive. And what I find intriguing is that s/he is willing to source a lesbian for me, even though s/he appears to disapprove of homosexuality.

Then why does this ‘bright’ person feel I’m not able to find my own sexual partners? Why would I need his/her help? The email is not only facetious; it’s facety. And instinct tells me that the author is male. And Jamaican. There’s a type of Jamaican man who just loves to tell women what to do. Especially if it’s directing them to engage in sexual practices he enjoys watching under cover.

I’d decided not to bother to write about that out-of-order email. And then I got these two others. The first came from my friend Maria, co-organiser of the International Reggae Poster Contest, who lives in Greece.

http://www.reggaepostercontest.com

It was about a story in Pink News, ‘Europe’s Largest Gay News Service’, published on March 10.

The headline was sensational: ‘Report: Gay man stoned to death in Jamaica’. The actual ‘report’ is more cautious: “Video has emerged reportedly showing the bloodied body of a gay Jamaican man who it is claimed was stoned to death.” If this is true, we’re back in the Old Testament, in the book of Leviticus. This is not a good place to be in the 21st century.

‘BOYS WHO DIDN’T FIT IN’

The second email came from another friend, Ben, an attorney in the US. It was a link to a beautifully written personal essay by the novelist Marlon James, published in The New York Times on March 10. The essay is headlined “From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself”. It opens with an unsettling quote: “I knew I had to leave my home country – whether in a coffin or in a plane.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/magazine/from-jamaica-to-minnesota-to-myself.html?_r=0

James’ account of growing up as an outsider in Jamaica is disquieting: “I’d spent seven years in an all-boys school: 2,000 adolescents in the same khaki uniforms striking hunting poses, stalking lunchrooms, classrooms, changing rooms, looking for boys who didn’t fit in.

“I bought myself protection by cursing, locking my lisp behind gritted teeth, folding away my limp wrist and drawing 36-double-D girls for art class. I took a copy of Penthouse to school to score cool points, but the other boys called me ‘batty boy’ anyway every day, five days a week. To save my older, cooler brother, I pretended we weren’t related.”

But we are related. No matter how religiously some of us deny it, gay Jamaicans are us: mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins – not-so-distant relatives. I suppose ‘Jordan’ could have been one of the boys who would have hunted Marlon James. And s/he might very well email me again this week, like a stalker, looking for confirmation that I’m in the closet. Another column on homosexuality, so I must be gay.

After writing the first draft of this column with those sentences, I did get a seemingly conciliatory response from ‘Jordan’: “Sorry Carolyn, no offence meant…Peace, Love and respect to you. Keep up the good work.” Makes no sense. But this is Jamaica. Conflicted about sexuality.

OverTheEdge_logoMarlon James writes about being suicidal: “One day after school, instead of going home, I walked for miles, all the way down to Kingston Harbor. I stopped right at the edge of the dock, thinking next time I would just keep walking.”Marlon found the courage to stay in Jamaica and not walk over the edge. He has written three brilliant novels that are rooted in our fertile/arid landscape. Thank God Marlon James came out of Jamaica in a plane, not a coffin!