Sex, lies and reality
SOCIAL — or should it be antisocial? — media has opened up a Pandora’s box when it comes to gender and sexuality. Indeed, if we one was to borrow from the Scriptures, what was hidden from the wise are now revealed to the babes and suckling. In other words, nothing is secret anymore when it comes to sex, thanks to Facebook, YouTube, cellphones, et al.
Against this background, the prudish among us who continue to bemoan what many of us already knew should shut up and focus more on educating our youngsters as well as mentoring and monitoring them, rather than condemning them as immoral, profligate and promiscuous. Just last week, there was yet another sex video going the rounds which showed a schoolgirl who could not be more than 12 years old performing oral sex on an unidentified male student. The look of innocence in her eyes as she sought to satisfy her companion could not assuage the feelings of anger that her lewd and lascivious act evoked in many well-thinking citizens. “How could she?” one may well ask. Was it for money, love, or just for the heck of it?
Her demeanour did not suggest that she was being forced, enticed maybe, but not cajoled. And there are numerous such incidents happening out there in the wider society. Fact is, these things have been occurring from the beginning of man’s existence on planet Earth, but the technology was not there before to record many of these sexual acts that Orwell’s 1984 has come to pass: “Big Brother is watching you…”
It is perhaps ironic, if not downright contradictory, that much of the most lurid tales of sexuality emerged in English literature during the so-called Victorian era when prudery was the order of the day. D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover, banned for many decades, was that signal piece which brought to the fore the hypocrisy and double standard that emanated from a period which extolled sexual virtues over vices and helped to embolden Puritanism. In today’s Jamaica, as much as the Church inveighs against sexual depravity and immorality, licentiousness has become as prevalent as the grass. However, there is nothing new under the sun, so the purists among us should express less alarm and more concern for our youth rather than spewing hell and damnation from the pulpit.
The advent of cable television and the easy access that kids have to pornography have helped to arouse their curiosity to the extent that many of them have begun to experiment, all the while thinking that the various freaky acts that they perform are “normal”. Lesbianism and male homosexuality are increasingly being seen as alternative lifestyles because of the opportunity to be rewarded with expensive gifts and cash. It was not surprising, therefore, when researchers revealed recently that numerous tertiary level students were involved in short-term sexual encounters in order to pay their way through school. Two consequences of such illicit activities are teenage pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
In the final analysis, there are far too many persons in denial when it comes to the matter of sex. Thus there are too many lies which do not bring into sharp focus the reality of the situation.
When I was growing up, incest was a common practice. The Jamaican expression, “cousin and cousin boil good soup” helped to validate internecine relationships. I knew then a father and daughter who openly lived together and had two children. Their strange cohabitation only elicited whispers, no punishment. And it was common knowledge that many middle and upper middle class boys had their first sexual experiences (“bruk dem dux”) with the helper. To put it bluntly, it has not always been just about the birds and the bees.
In many inner-city and deep-rural homes, children are in the same room while their parents are having sex. Mothers are known to tolerate stepfathers having sex with their daughters because it is all about the money. Indeed, unlike in the United Kingdom where there is the famous quip, “No sex please, we are British”, au contraire, in this country it is “More sex please, we are Jamaicans”.
The bottom line is that too many Jamaicans below the age of 18 are having sex with Dick, Tom and Harry, not to mention Mary, Jane and Sue. A public health professional told me some two years ago that the statistical data relating to youngsters who are having repeat sexual encounters is very alarming. Multiple sex partners and unprotected sex have helped to create a society in which men have primarily become sperm donors and women are left to be the “man a yard”. This explains why crime and violence are so rampant in Jamaica, land we love. There is too much sex and too little love.
One unfortunate practice among churchgoers and pastors is that they spend so much time and energy condemning homosexuality while ignoring the complete picture, which should include all those other acts of sexuality that are helping to create a dysfunctional and confused society. I well recall a story where a pastor would use every occasion to attack the practice of homosexuality from the pulpit only to be caught in flagrante delicto in the vestry with a young deacon. As the Good Lord has said, let him who is without sin fling the first “rockstone”. To compartmentalise sex is a dangerous proposition which must be abhorred by all persons of good will.
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 wellknown Observer columnists Mark Wignall and Tony “T. Rob” Robinson. They may just have more answers than I do. Lol.
Lloyd B Smith is a member of Parliament and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the People’s National Party or the Government of Jamaica.