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.”

Ugly, Poor, Ignorant and Black!

On Christmas day, I got a blistering email from a man who was angered by my column, ‘Psssst! Hi Sexy!’ He wasn’t vexed because I’d written off out-of-order men who call out to women on the street. It was my “ugly message” coming the day before Kwanzaa. I hadn’t paid any attention to what he called the internalised racism of the fictional female character I’d quoted.

KwanzaaHighlighting colour and class, the woman dissed the gardener who pssssted her. As far as she was concerned, he was too ugly, poor, ignorant and black to be ‘looking’ her. Of course, I was not endorsing the woman’s words. As I said in the column, if the man hadn’t provoked her, she wouldn’t have had the chance to list what she considered to be all his limitations.

When I repeated that point in response to the email, I got a multiple-choice exam. Suppose the “general public” overheard this interrogation: “You have colour, you have education, you smart”? What assumption would be made about the person being questioned? It’s “A. a black person; B. a white person; C. a browning”.

I mischievously replied to say that some of my white friends tell me that white is not the ideal colour in Jamaica; it’s brown. So we could eliminate white right away. But I did take the man’s point: a black woman really should not be dissing a black man in this way. And I should have said that. So I decided to write a conciliatory column this week.

STEPPING UP IN LIFE

But I kept wondering if that angry woman was actually suffering from internalised racism. What if she simply knew the right buttons to push to let her unwanted suitor know how much she despised him? And, notice, she didn’t say ‘black and ugly’. The man’s ugliness was independent of his blackness.

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And one could make a fairly good case for his ignorance. He didn’t know how the woman would react and he foolishly risked rejection by propositioning her. And why shouldn’t this woman want a man who is not poor? It’s about stepping up in life. And why can’t she express a preference for a man who is not black?

So many black men of all social classes in Jamaica have a clear preference for women who are not black. Do we automatically assume that they are suffering from “internalised racism”? Or is it that they always happen to fall in love with a particular woman who just happens to be not black?

What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. But I know my angry male reader would not buy that argument. In fact, this is what he said in another email: “No wonder the yute dem a bleach out if a ‘cultured’ person like yourself indirectly participate[s] in the transference of self-denigration”.

Let’s assume that this presumably black woman has, in fact, internalised racism. Where does this racism come from? Did she learn it in the womb? At home? At school? From the media? Where are the positive images of blackness in Jamaican society? Do a little experiment today and look at the pictures of the ideal Jamaican family in advertisements. It’s almost always a black man, a light-skinned woman, a black boy and a light-skinned girl.

There was a brief moment in the 1970s when black women were in fashion. White and near-white men married black women. It was a new style of trophy wife who proved that her husband was ‘right on’. Later in life, many of these men reverted to type, choosing wives that looked just like them. And some black men didn’t even pretend that they wanted black women as ‘trophy’ wives.

ON THE SHELF

Then there was a very facety response to the column posted on The Gleaner‘s website: “Most women your age have been on the shelf for years without any takers. They would give their eye tooth to have a man acknowledge them. Relish the attention my dear, it means that you still ‘got it goin on’.”

ageismTalk about ageism! So if you are an old woman you must feel flattered by the attention of strangers on the street. No matter what they say? I posted back, “Me have use fi my eye tooth”. Most women, on the shelf or not, don’t object on principle to a compliment from a well-intentioned man. We certainly know how to distinguish between a compliment and an insult.

The most elaborate compliment I’ve got on the street came from a security guard who was full of lyrics. He said to me, “Yu don’t have no sister”. It was more a statement than a question. I do have sisters but since there’s no law that says you must tell the truth to nosy strangers, I said no.

So here’s his response: “Mi know! Yu have di whole of dem shape”. Mi nearly dead wid laugh. All of the shapeliness of my potential sisters was compounded in me. How could you get vexed with a piece of lyrics like that? I thanked the nice gentleman for his compliment and kept moving. He graciously made no effort to detain me. Knowing how to compliment a woman has nothing to do with looks, social class, colour or education. It’s a gift!

Chris Gayle too sexy for his own good

26090FDA00000578-2966545-image-m-39_1424778583761I feel sorry for Chris Gayle. It must be so hard to be a sex symbol. Women always throwing themselves at him! Perhaps, even men, too. With all that attention, it’s easy to see how Gayle could start to think of himself as irresistible. So much so, he dared to stroke his ego on national television in Australia. Flipping the script, Gayle ‘put question’ to Mel McLaughlin, the female journalist who was interviewing him.

Gayle is not the first athlete to get carried away in Ms McLaughlin’s glamorous presence. In 2012, Australian soccer star Tim Cahill stepped up to the mike to be interviewed by the journalist and gave her a completely unexpected kiss on the cheek. Ms McLaughlin looked flustered. She was clearly taken by surprise. Perhaps she blushed. But she kept her cool. She gave a half-laugh and said, “OK.” But was it?

As far as I can tell, not a bit of a fuss was made about that Cahill kiss. There was no talk of sexual harassment at the workplace. No fine. No call for a worldwide ban on Cahill. No bogus story that Cahill had exposed himself to an anonymous female who wandered into a male dressing room. Cahill is white and Gayle is black. Is that the difference in the treatment of the two athletes?

WELL OUT OF ORDER

Don’t get me wrong. Gayle was well out of order to be asking Ms McLaughlin out on a date. Talking about looking into her eyes and calling her ‘baby’! What is so puzzling is that the interview started off quite professionally. Ms McLaughlin congratulated Gayle on his performance and then asked, “Were you just not in the mood to run today?” He said he was cold and then went on to talk about the rhythm of the game – hitting the first four and wanting to entertain the crowd for the last game.

Then Ms McLaughlin gushed, “Incredibly aggressive approach for you, too! Looks like you absolutely just smashing this innings.” (sic) That compliment seems to have been Gayle’s undoing. He gets tongue-tied: “Yeah, definitely, ahm, I mean.” And next thing you know, out of the blue, Gayle head tek him.

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He then makes the now-infamous confession, “I want to come and have an interview with you as well.” This is punctuated by loud sniggering coming from the Channel TEN studio. Gayle continues, “That’s the reason why I’m here. Just to see your eyes for the first time. It’s nice. So hopefully we’ll win this game and we can have a drink after. Don’t blush, baby!”

Denying that she was blushing, Ms McLaughlin efficiently steers the interview into less troubled waters. After a little stumble, her next question seems to cut Gayle down to size: “Ahm, did you, any injuries? Did you have any?  The boys were saying maybe you picked up a bit of a twinge in your hamstring.” Is this injury wishful thinking? Does the twinge stand for impotence? Or, worse, castration? Gayle is not fazed. He cockily  says it’s back pain, he’ll do physio and hopefully he’ll look into Ms McLaughlin’s eyes again.

EMMETT TILL

Chris Gayle doesn’t seem to know the story of Emmett Till. The place was Mississippi and the year was 1955. A 14-year-old black boy, Emmett Till, was accused of flirting with a white woman. He didn’t even speak to the woman. All he did was look at her. Or so they said. And he was murdered by two white men protecting the honour of the white woman. The men were tried for murder but were acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury.

TILL MOBLEY

This family handout photograph taken in Chicago, date unknown, shows Mamie Till Mobley and her son, Emmett Till, whose lynching in 1955 became a catalyst for the civil rights movement. FBI officials planned to begin exhuming Emmett Till’s body Wednesday, June 1, 2005, after a morning graveside service for the slain civil rights icon’s family at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill. The U.S. Justice Department announced in May 2004 that it was reopening the investigation into the 1955 murder. (AP Photo/Mamie Till Mobley Family)

Gayle is lucky. He’s not likely to be murdered for flirting with Mel McLaughlin on national television. But his career might take a hit. The Australian cricketer Ian Chappell is calling for a worldwide ban on Gayle. This punishment seems completely out of proportion to the offence. Gayle made a stupid mistake. But to ban him from cricket forever?

Gayle says it was an innocent joke. I’m inclined to believe him. And he made the pass out in the open on television. It was on show! To me, this makes the flirting less troubling than it might have been in private. But the image of an athletic black man flirting with a white woman remains threatening to ‘the boys’, even in the 21st century. That seems to be the real issue.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Of course, sexual harassment on the job is no laughing matter. And it’s not only women who are harassed. Men are also harassed by both men and women. The workplace ought to be a safe environment in which both men and women can work in peace without fear of unwanted sexual advances.

6a00d8341bfc6e53ef0176164e8349970c-piAnd though the global condemnation of Chris Gayle’s flirting with Mel McLaughlin on the job seems over the top, the controversy over the incident is a welcome reminder that there are lines of propriety that should not be crossed.

I’m sure Chris Gayle will now think at least twice, if not more, about inviting any woman to have a drink with him. And certainly not on TV! But, hopefully, he will continue to enjoy the pleasures of appropriate flirting. After all, if he stopped, it would be such a waste of a deliciously sexy man.

 

Stage show in Heaven for Lady Saw

Marion Hall’s recent decision to get baptised again won’t surprise anyone who has been following Lady Saw’s flamboyant career. In a 1998 interview in the Uncensored series on FAME FM, the deejay frankly announced, “Lady Saw is a act.”

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She describes her 2014 album, Alter Ego, in this way: “It’s Marion Hall with a touch of Lady Saw.” The deejay’s spectacular performance of the role of Lady Saw is not usually seen by her detractors as a calculated decision by the actress Marion Hall to earn a very good living on the dancehall stage.

This self-possessed artiste has always claimed the right to privacy and freedom to escape her public image. In that interview almost two decades ago, she draws a straight line between her job and her true-true identity: “I’m a nice girl. When I’m working, you know, just love it or excuse it.”

Many critics just can’t love Lady Saw’s performances or excuse her transgressions. So she’s usually censured for being far too slack. Or worse, she’s dismissed as a mere victim of circumstances, mindlessly playing the expected role as sex object.

SEXISM IS THE ISSUE

Crotch-grabbing-collection-WooHoo-michael-jackson-12121433-804-1200In that FAME FM interview, the deejay was questioned about her body language: “Lady Saw, you do things like, yu grab yu crotch onstage … .” Her answer makes it clear that sexism is the real issue: “Uh-huh. Michael Jackson did it and nobody say anything about it.”

The interviewer persists: “And you gyrate on the ground. I mean, do you think this is acceptable for a woman?” Lady Saw responds boldly: “Yes, darling. For this woman. And a lot of woman would like to do the same, but I guess they are too shy.”

Lady Saw is absolutely right. Her female fans enjoy her daring. They would like to act like her. But they are trapped in roles of respectability. So they leave it to her to speak and gyrate for them. And she simply brushes off criticism: “I think critics are there to do their job and I am here to my job … . To entertain and please my fans.”

Even those critics who would never admit to being fans are often mesmerised by Lady Saw’s brazenness. They are caught between self-righteous condemnation and open-mouthed fascination. For example, Papa Pilgrim, a radio disc jockey in Salt Lake City, in his 1993 report on Reggae Sunsplash Dancehall Night, published in The Beat magazine:

“Then came a performance that was more vulgar than any I have seen from anyone anywhere! Her name is Lady Saw, and as a Jamaican friend commented, you cannot put enough Xs in front of her name to adequately describe what she did. To quote from the August 3 Gleaner, ‘She went to the bottom of the pit and came up with sheer filth and vulgar lyrics which made Yellow Man at his worst seem like a Boy Scout.'”

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NOT ONLY SLACK

There’s always been another side to Lady Saw. She knows her Bible. At 12, Marion Hall was baptised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And that upbringing has left its mark on her alter ego. Lady Saw can be as pious as ever.

She has quite a few hymns in her repertoire, celebrating divine guidance. For example, Glory Be to God:

When I remember where I’m coming from

Through all the trials and the tribulation

Yes, the hardship and the sufferation

I have to go on my knees

And sing praises to God

Glory be to God!

Praises to His name!

Thanks for taking me

Out of the bondage and chains.

Lady Saw knows she has a duty to help liberate young women from the bondage and chains of unwise choices. In that Uncensored interview, she was asked, “What would you say to a young girl now out there who wants to be nothing but just like you?” It’s Marion Hall who answers: “I tell them all the time them come to me with it: ‘I want to be like you, Lady Saw.’

“‘Like me? You choose suppen else.’ I can tek my consequences dem right now. I don’t know if she strong enough to deal with what I’m dealing with. So I don’t encourage them to be like Lady Saw. Sometimes they say, ‘I love all yu songs.’ I seh, ‘Yu try listen to the good ones, not the bad ones.'”

FEMINIST EMANCIPATION

Heartbeat-6-1Marion Hall’s conversion inspired a typically witty response from Ninja Man, aka Brother Desmond: “A di greatest move anyone ever mek in the history of dancehall. Lady Saw don’t need a pound of flour. She don’t need a pound of sugar. She don’t need nothing. All she need now is God. God bless her and put her which part she fi reach. And she feel that is time now.

“She do her time wid di devil. Now is time to serve the Lord. In the name of Jesus … . As the Bible tell yu seh, yu know, when one gi im soul yu know, Heaven bruck loose, yu know. So yu know a stage show up there last night.”

I’m going to miss Lady Saw. She’s been a model of feminist emancipation from sexual repression. I hope Marion Hall will find a way to keep her alter ego in the church.

KC Old Boys Desire Male Sex

Dr. Patrick Dallas (left) and Dean Nevers at the 2014 dinner

Dr. Patrick Dallas (left) and Dean Nevers at the 2014 KC Old Boys’ Association dinner

I have great respect for the KC old boys who have proudly come out and made their sexual preference absolutely clear. The female sex is not for them.  In 2012 and 2013, the KC Old Boys’ Association tried to make it with women at their annual dinner. They concluded that the experiment had failed. This year, under the leadership of Dr Patrick Dallas, the old boys decided to stick to themselves.

It’s quite understandable. For five or even seven years, at a crucial stage of their sexual development, these KC old boys spent five days, every week for most of the year with their beloved classmates. They fought and made up. They played games on and off the field. And they embraced each other in victory and defeat.

These old boys have become big men, in theory. They have big jobs, big houses, big cars and big debts to prove it. But many of these big men are still just little boys dressed up in adult clothing. They long for the good old days on North Street when being a KC boy promised to make life so easy. It entitled you to an eternity of privilege.

It must be quite difficult for these old boys to adjust and learn to enjoy the company of women – their natural inferiors. It’s not a skill at which they’ve had much practice. Their mothers and sisters don’t count. They’re family. Quite inappropriate for certain forms of exploration! And female teachers don’t make good role models. They lack the right equipment.

Some of these old boys may eventually get married to women. But it now seems as if they don’t really enjoy associating with the female sex. It’s just not to their taste. They certainly don’t want to wine and dine with women. They may occasionally do so on the down-low. But definitely not in public!

DELUSIONAL WOMEN

UnknownI don’t understand why some women are so angry with the KC old boys for publicly admitting that they want to play with themselves at their annual dinner. That’s their choice. They have a right to their sexual preference. Delusional women believe they can channel the sexual desires of men. That’s just straight self-deception. No woman, no matter how hot she thinks she is, can force a man to want her – if he’s all wired up for men.

The unwilling man may, occasionally, go through the motions of pleasing women for a peaceful life. But if his heart is not in it, he’s likely to suffer from penile failure. And though it’s quite possible to fake orgasm, it’s impossible to fake erection. If the man is not psychologically prepared to play ball, not even Viagra can help him. And only God can save him from the vanity of a determined woman who thinks her charms ought to be enough to seduce him.

I much prefer a man to come clean with me. It saves a lot of time and work. Instead of getting all hot and bothered at the pleasurable prospect of making it with this gorgeous man, I can just relax. Nutten nah gwaan. The man is not for me. We can have great conversations and even go out together. But we done know; there will be no going in. Or goings-on!

ignorance-is-not-blissAnd ignorance of the truth is definitely not bliss. Just suppose you’re a woman who’s been invited to the KC old boys’ dinner by one Mr Fortis. You accept, on the assumption that your old boy actually enjoys your company. On the night of the affair, you’re dressed to puss back foot and you know you’re looking good. But after a while, you notice that Fortis not paying yu bad mind.

Female intuition kicks in and it comes to you in a cold flash. Much to your vexation, you realise that you’re actually an unwelcome intrusion. Your old boy’s body may be next to you but his eyes are roving the room, looking for the real objects of his desire: his faithful companions from way back when.

HIGH-SCHOOL BUDDIES

KC-LOGOThe origin of that word ‘companion’ is Latin. ‘Com’ means ‘with’ and ‘panis’ means ‘bread’. So, literally, a companion is someone you eat bread with. And that includes patty and box juice. Your heartical brejrin. No woman can come between a man and his bonafide high-school buddies. Plural. No matter how hard she tries. The brave may fall but never yield!

All the same, several old boys don’t approve of that backward move to exclude women from the annual dinner. These are the real big men who have definitely grown up. They have no intention of leaving their female companions at home while they go off to live in the past with their high-school buddies. After the old boys’ dinner, they’ll want to share bread and bed with their woman.

Kingston College is the ‘brother’ school of St Hugh’s. On November 22, we’ll be having our 115th anniversary banquet. We’re including men. It’s such a pity some KC old boys don’t seem to understand that it’s in their best interest to associate with women, the superior sex. Good sense just might rub off on them. It takes a new kind of old boy to get it.

Marcus Garvey’s Love Life

418WElA7YILAmy Jacques, the second Mrs Garvey, gives an intriguing account of Marcus Garvey’s first marriage to Amy Ashwood in her book Garvey and Garveyism. “While [Garvey was] in Harlem hospital, Amy Ashwood, a Jamaican friend from Panama, then secretary of the New York local, removed his belongings from his furnished room to her flat. At the end of December, they were married.”

Quite a lot is left out of this abbreviated story. There is a big gap between the moving of the belongings and the marriage. What is not said is just as important as what is. It seems as if Amy Jacques is accusing Amy Ashwood of using underhand means to forcefully rush Garvey into marriage while he was in a vulnerable state.

Amy Jacques’ description of the divorce is quite elaborate, by contrast. She even recalls, word for word, Garvey’s explanation of why the marriage broke down after only three months: “I have to travel up and down the country. I can’t drag my wife with me. I can’t pay her the personal attention as the average husband. In fact, I have no time to look after myself. My life can either be wrecked because of her conduct, or embellished by her deportment.”

A WORKING HONEYMOON

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Amy Jacques

Garvey’s next move seems quite calculated. Amy Jacques reports that “He moved into a flat at 129th Street with an elderly coloured member as housekeeper. He offered Miss Davis [assistant president general] and I a room to share there; we accepted because we would be better protected at nights coming home from meetings.”

Prim and proper Miss Jacques is careful to confirm the elderliness of Garvey’s housekeeper. And her acceptance of Garvey’s hospitality is purely a matter of chivalrous protection. But I do wonder. Did Amy Jacques have ‘feelings’ for Garvey? In her judgemental account of the collapsed marriage, Amy Jacques does not immediately mention the fact that Amy Ashwood was her friend. Nor does she reveal that she was a bridesmaid at the wedding and accompanied the couple on their honeymoon!

It was a working honeymoon and Amy Jacques attended in a professional capacity as Garvey’s secretary. There’s only one kind of work that should be done on a honeymoon. And if you can’t do the work, you are going to lose the work.

garvey_amyAs is to be expected, Amy Ashwood gives a quite different version of the story of her marriage. Her needs and Marcus Garvey’s ambitions clearly clashed. Embellishing her husband’s life was not her priority. She was a woman ahead of her time, who could not be contained by her husband’s expectations.

Amy Ashwood was, apparently, a hot-blooded woman who needed a partner who could and would pay her sexual attention. Garvey should have taken her on a proper honeymoon. However much he admired Amy Ashwood’s mind, spirit and, presumably, body, Garvey soon concluded that his wife was going to wreck his life. His peace of mind required defensive action.

THE PERFECT SECOND WIFE

Garvey admitted that his visionary work for the advancement of black people “came first in his life”. This was his big romance. And in Amy Jacques he found a perfect second wife. She was a devoted, morally upright companion who certainly did not cause any anxiety in Garvey about what she might possibly be doing behind his back while he was travelling up and down the country.

opinionsGarvey’s second wife decidedly embellished his life. But even she had cause to complain about Garvey’s commitment to his first love, The UNIA. In Garvey and Garveyism, Amy Jacques paints a picture of Garvey as a taskmaster, pushing her relentlessly to publish the second volume of his philosophy and opinions.

This is how she puts it: “I thought I had done almost the impossible when I was able to rush a first copy of Volume II to him, but he callously said, ‘Now I want you to send free copies to senators, congressmen and prominent men who might become interested in my case, as I want to make another application for a pardon.'”

Amy Jacques confesses: “When I completed this task, I weighed 98lb, had low blood pressure, and one eye was badly strained. Two doctors advised complete rest.” Having sacrificed her health for Garvey’s cause, she fleetingly rebels against the callous regime of domestic servitude she had willingly embraced.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

Perhaps, Amy Jacques should have followed Amy Ashwood’s example and made a lucky escape. But who would have ensured the completion of The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey and so consolidated the great man’s reputation?

Unknown-2The moral of this love story is quite complicated: Great men often need self-sacrificing wives. Great women don’t usually need self-sacrificing husbands. Self-sacrificing wives who have the potential to be great women have to abandon callous great men; or they will end up getting seriously sick.

The wives of great men who refuse to embellish their husband’s life end up divorced, with a very bad reputation. Divorced women sometimes end up living glamorous lives as great women in their own right – like Amy Ashwood! Great and not-so-great men who do not require their wives to be self-sacrificing are few and far between. They make great husbands for great and not-so-great women.

Putting Vaginas (And Penises) In Focus

UnknownNewspaper headlines are designed to grab your attention, if not your crotch. So I completely understand why the sensational ‘vagina’ – and not the more neutral ‘body’ – was used by the In Focus editor to brand Ms Karen Lloyd’s provocative column, ‘My vagina isn’t public property’ (Sunday Gleaner, August 3, 2014). Sex sells. Titillation, too.

I had a feeling that the hotty-hotty vaginal headline was going to backfire. It struck me that if your vagina really isn’t public property, perhaps, you wouldn’t want to expose it in print. Of course, that’s not the same as uncovering it in the flesh. All the same, as hard-core pornographers know, the thought of sex can be just as exciting as the real thing. Sometimes, even more so with the right visual stimulation.

Once I got past the seductive headline, I realised it was a case of bait and switch. The primary focus of Ms Lloyd’s perceptive column wasn’t her vagina after all. It was the persistent problem of verbal and physical abuse of girls and women in Jamaica. Across the board: uptown and downtown; black, white and brown; every single ethnic group. All our talk of independence, both national and personal, means absolutely nothing if we can’t cure this widespread sickness.

MALE BACKLASH

images-1Mr Bertlan Reynolds’ letter to the editor, published on Independence Day, is a classic example of abusive male backlash against women who dare to speak uncomfortable truths. The headline, ‘Vaginas public property on ‘Back Road’,’ maliciously challenges Ms Lloyd’s perfectly reasonable claims about a vagina’s right to privacy.

Mr Reynolds, who seems to be thinking with the head of his penis, completely misses the point. Unlike Ms Lloyd, the women on ‘Back Road’ are selling sex. Even so, the vagina of a female sex worker is not public property. It may be turned into a commodity and graphically put on display, as described in such detail by Mr Reynolds:

“Not too long ago, an event was taking place on this renowned road popularly called ‘Back Road’ that caused vehicular traffic to come to a virtual stop. A group of women presented themselves in an almost nude state banging on the cars of male drivers, gyrating and virtually ‘swiping’ the cars, including mine, with their private parts. This was certainly not a clever way to marketise their dismal future.”

FRONT-ROOM SEX WORKERS

Cleverly marketed or not, the vagina of a female sex worker is a private body part. And its owner has the right to determine its use and value. She is entitled to pick and choose her clients even in desperate economic circumstances. Sex workers have rights. They have the fundamental right to be protected from sexual abuse. And selling sex does not mean you give up all claims to be treated with dignity.

Dignity1Self-righteous, judgemental souls like Mr Reynolds don’t seem to understand this basic principle. And they certainly don’t grasp the economics of survival in Jamaica today. You cannot assume that sex workers willingly choose the world’s oldest profession. It’s usually a last resort, especially in societies like ours where poor women do face a dismal future.

And Mr Reynolds ought to know that sex workers come in all grades and stations: from ‘Back Road’ to front rooms in upscale, gated communities. Class covers a multitude of sins. The way some uptown ladies gyrate in public for carnival, they might as well be swiping their private parts on ‘Back Road’!

A SLAP FOR A SQUEEZE

I’m so glad Ms Lloyd had the presence of mind to slap the man who squeezed her breast. I’m sure he’ll think twice about attacking another woman. And his claim that he was only romping with her because she looked so good is outrageous. Presumably, an attractive woman must take full responsibility for provoking unwanted attention.

This is the identical assumption that the self-proclaimed “old fogey”, Mr Cedric Richards, makes in his letter to the editor, published on August 5. The headline is vexing: ‘Vagina not public property, but are women asking for it?’ And what, exactly, is ‘it’? Verbal abuse? Rape? These are acts of power, control and violence.

How would Mr Richards feel if a man grabbed his crotch in public? Would he concede that he’d been asking for it because he was dressed attractively? In a satirical letter to the editor, published on August 5, Ms Meng Na mocks heterosexual men who are afraid of being “checked” out by gay men but think it’s perfectly ‘natural’ for women to be groped.

safe_image.phpThe old fogey ends his letter with an irritating question: “Do the ladies have a responsibility to be more modest in their attire?” It’s not about how women dress. Even in societies where women are covered from head to toe, sexual abuse is a constant threat. Men have a responsibility to exercise self-control and keep their hands and penises under manners.

Instead of falling into the trap of thinking that unwanted sexual attention is a compliment, women must fight back. We cannot passively see ourselves as victims. We have to let men know that they are not entitled to romp with us against our will. And an unexpected response to sexual harassment – whether verbal or physical – can be a most effective deterrent.

On my walk one morning, a man called out to me, “Hi, sexy girl!” To be honest, I think he intended it as an innocent compliment. All the same, I thought I should put him in my place. I pleasantly replied, “Hi, sexy boy!” He almost fell off his bicycle.