'Masculinity' not fodder for campaigning

'Masculinity' not fodder for campaigning

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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Dear Editor,

I have a news flash for all 63 sitting Members of Parliament and the other 63 challengers who are waiting for the official announcement of the general election: Times have changed!

I understand that campaign trails are, for lack of a better word, festive. I expect that in their exuberance politicians will say things to energise and rally their base. However, I think senior politicians should recognise that homophobia is inappropriate for the campaign trail.

For clarity, this letter is particularly directed at Mark Golding and Dayton Campbell, in whom I am profoundly disappointed. Their recent statements in St Catherine East Central really begs the question: What, if anything, does the People's National Party stand for? Or, are they so embarrassingly desperate that, like dancehall DJs struggling to “get a forward”, they are forced to go deep into their back pockets and make poorly veiled homophobic statements at their opponents.

Before they attempt to vacillate and suggest that when they referred to De La Haye's “straightness”, and the purported wobbling of incumbent Alando Terrelonge in response, they never meant to make assertions about Terrelonge's sexuality and masculinity, I would ask them to spare us the insult to our intelligence. If it wasn't abundantly clear what they meant the references to Terrelonge's focus on toxic masculinity sealed the deal.

It really is a shame that in Jamaica where we have serious issues with gender-based violence, sexual violence, and sexual harassment that a politician, who works in the ministry related to gender and who is a father raising young boys, would be hounded for playing his part in addressing these issues. After all, “toxic masculinity” is the very thing that is killing our women. Women's rights activists ask daily that men play their part in addressing gender-based violence, and here a man is being jeered for doing just that.

I would suggest that, rather than finding time to make suggestions about who an incumbent Member of Parliament is, the PNP should actually articulate a vision for Jamaica that those of us with an interest in national development can deem sensible.

With each day they sink deeper into the oblivion of redundancy and, while I am sure they are capable of lower lows, I hope that they will take stock, reassess, and make the changes necessary.

Glenroy Murray

Director, Strategy & Impact

Equality for All Foundation Jamaica Limited

glenroy@equalityjamaica.org


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