Columns

A sexually healthy Jamaica

Thursday, February 27, 2014    

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MY colleague columnist Lloyd B Smith, the veteran newspaperman, journalist and, in the last few years, member of Parliament and deputy speaker of the House, wrote a piece two Tuesdays ago titled 'Sex, lies and reality' which ended with: "A greater understanding of human sexuality in the Jamaican context against the backdrop of slavery and dancehall is needed if we are to make the right interventions to stem the tide of sex and more sex that is overwhelming the youth population. This can only be achieved through meaningful and sustained research. In the meantime, I turn things over to well known Observer columnists Mark Wignall and Tony "T Rob" Robinson. They may just have more answers than I do. Lol."

Lol, indeed!

Somehow, it seems to me that "meaningful and sustained research" of human sexuality and my name do not belong on the same page, or do they?

The little that I do know tells me that a 14-year-old child and a 94-year-old man are sexual beings, in that there is more to them than just the sum of their body parts, including those 'down there'. It is perfectly natural for them to experience sexual "feelings", and I say this with the authority of "meaningful and sustained research" gained through having once been 14 years old, and the fact that my naughty old father is 94 years old.

The 14-year-old will need parental guidance in carefully steering him or her through the potential pitfalls of a highly sexualised landscape, while the 94-year-old man's memories of a pleasant sexual past may turn out to be the best indicators of where his sons will end up.

Thanks for the mention, Lloyd B, and you sure knew I would oblige. This time around, though, if you will pardon me, I will submit the lab work at a later date.

Having established the 'authority' of nearly 64 years on this earth I have determined, through interactions, observations and a great deal of 'suspicion' as to where we will evolve socio-sexually in a high-tech, fast-food sex world, that many Jamaicans are sexual dunces. When I say that, I do not mean that they are deficient

in the mechanics of the raw sexual encounter.

Let me start at the beginning. Most parents know that their children's first experiment with sex starts in the brain, or the mind, whichever word suits you. This most parents can live with, but once the potential for sexual encounter involving at least two people looms, some become scared, defensive, socially repressive, and even offensive to the child who, in response, tends to grow secretive and ashamed of the mind-body play that he/she cannot quite figure out. A lifetime of sexual dysfunction can begin there.

This is not the 1950s when sex was a bad word and babies came into the world by way of the doctor's office or some story designed to delay telling the child the honest truth that babies came from Daddy and Mommy deciding not to go to work one rainy day — and that Mommy and Daddy have had many rainy days in their lives. There were even some dry days when they got down on their knees and pleaded long and hard with the gods for it to rain.

Seriously, though, as a nation we are swimming in a deep lake of dysfunctional behaviours, not the least of which is the sexual one. Lloyd B pointed out in his column that when he was a child incest in Jamaica was a sort of norm, but he failed to point out that in almost any village any place on the globe that has a deep rural flavour, where it is locked away from social and cultural contact with the wider community, it would create the perfect breeding ground for incestuous relationships.

Dancehall music, that great purveyor of what hums at street level, reflects much of our sexual dysfunctions. But in too many instances many of those great communicators get too filled with themselves and begin to promote the grit and the grime as desirable behaviour for our young people.

As a nation we have failed to recognise that, in order for us to be classified as a 'sexually fit' nation, we must first pass the sociological fitness test, or at the very least we must first learn to be a civilised people. Walk into any gathering of young men and bring up the troubling subject of rape and one would swear from the general responses that it is comedy hour.

"Cho, a pure likkle short dress she always a wear; a weh she expect man fi do?!"

With the explosion of cellphone technology and social media children barely out of their teens now have the means to go beyond whispering and telling a friend on the playing field that they are 'doing it'. It can now be posted on Facebook.

Many years ago when my sons were young, one of them, Maurice, not yet a teenager, ran to his mother one day and eagerly asked, in a somewhat impatient manner, "Mommy, Mommy, when am I going to develop sperm cells?" I believe he did this because we were tactfully open about sexual matters with our children, and he was a little too randy for his age.

I am not aware that in the single-parent household — where finding dinner for six children each day and the mother has to rely on a batch of baby fathers (including the 'jacketed' one) who are only seasonally employed — that sex education for the children is a great priority. A look at the developed countries, however, tells us that it was a synergistic mix of social and economic development that led to their people being generally 'sexually healthy' and able to relate to one another without the grit and the grime that accompany sexual encounters in Jamaica.

The proliferation of older men having sex with schoolgirls, getting them pregnant and spreading all types of STDs is assisted by the fact that very few of these men are ever brought to book. Recently the Women's Centre of Jamaica published data on teen pregnancy without giving us the attendant data on the age of the men who impregnated these children. Certainly, I believe, the police would be interested in this bit of detail.

The crazy thing about us is that, while we fall way short on guiding our children through the vast minefield of sexual signals, we are nevertheless quite open on sexual discussions. The problem is, we are open to discussing only the gritty matters of sexual encounters and the aspects of it that give us a big laugh.

The sort of human development that we envisage in the wish and hope that is Vision 2030 would automatically have as a subsection, a sexually healthy nation. Develop the minds of our people and it ought to follow that our economic fortunes should show some positives. A developed Jamaican society is one in which we will hear less of our men saying to a young woman passing nearby, "Hey gyal, mi woulda tek some ah dat now!"

observemark@gmail.com

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