All Woman

Jamaican men are not ANGELS, say overseas Jamaican women

Sophia Findlay Laidley, Observer staff reporter

Monday, January 17, 2005    

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(Last week Jamaican men overseas spoke about the reasons why they preferred Yankee women over women from their own country. They argued that Jamaican women living in the United States were jealous, conniving gold diggers. This week the women tell their side of the story.)

The Jamaican man is considered a unique and very masculine specimen by women worldwide, but there's an adage among Jamaican women living on foreign soil that most of the good Jamaican men are left back home.

These women think that once the Jamaican man steps off the plane and gets to know the subway routes- everything changes.

Some Jamaican-Canadian women - to their chagrin - are convinced that these 'hardcore' Jamaican men are not worth their while, for several reasons.

"Firstly, they're too lie. Most Jamaican men that I've come across are dishonest. That's one of the reasons why I'll never date another one again," declared Donnette Morgan, a 38-year-old marketing supervisor, who has lived in Toronto, Canada, for over 25 years.

"I've just had it with them. I'm with a Grenadian man now. Whenever Jamaican men see us, they try to put me down by saying that I'm with a 'small-island man.' But I tell them that I'm going out with a small-island man with a big mind and not with a big-island man with a small mind," she said.

According to Morgan, she would never commit to another of her countrymen again.

"The last Jamaican boyfriend I had was just the last straw. When I first met him, I asked him pointedly if he was married and he told me no," she said. 'After his wife found my telephone number on his cell phone bill and started calling and harassing me, I confronted him about the situation. His explanation was that if he could do it again, he would have lied again because if he hadn't done so he wouldn't have gotten me in the first place."

Morgan was angry at the complaints made by the Jamaican men in last week's all woman article titled: "Give me the Yankee woman over the Jamaican". In that story the men stated clearly that Jamaican women were jealous, envious, golddiggers and conniving control freaks.

She was also disgusted at their blatant attempt to place the blame squarely on the Jamaican woman.

"They have to, as it says in the Bible, ' pick the beam out of their eyes first' before they pick on the Jamaican woman."

"Most of the uneducated Jamaican men here definitely do not treat their women good," said Sonia Crooks, a nurse, who migrated to Canada 26 years ago.

It's her view that the Jamaican man's irresponsibility and his inability to adapt to the different situations abroad make it seem as if they (the women) have changed after migration.

The main problem of many Jamaican men living in Canada was that they abused their women, she argued.

"One of the things about Jamaican men is that they love to beat their women and when they discover that they can't get their way, then they stray and blame everything on the woman," said Crooks, a mother of four, who on her own has bought a home in the suburbs.

Lorna Simms, editor of Dawn Newspaper, a Canadian multicultural bi-monthly magazine, agreed with Crook's observation of family conflict and domestic abuse in some Jamaican households there. She has tried counselling them herself and continues to do so through her publication .

"Domestic abuse is taken seriously abroad," she writes via e-mail. Speaking directly to the men who complained in the article about the Jamaican woman being conniving control freaks, she advised: "You have to discuss issues with your wife or woman. The days of 'thumping her in her mouth' or 'boxing her down' will land you in jail and yes, if you don't change your ways, there will be a restraining order against you, so that you can't even go within twelve feet of the house you've bought."

The women she says, adapt more easily to the culture and are glad they can call the police, or go to "shelters' if they are being abused.

"I have spoken to a few men who become extremely angry when they are slapped with restraining orders and can't go near their homes, until they agree to take 'anger management' counseling. I try to counsel them, when they drop by to complain that they only "gave her a little slap," she explained. "I feel sorry for their financial position. Many men feel the North American laws 'gang up against men", but they have to put aside the old ways. Sometimes the women do sympathise, take them back, disobeying the court's orders, only to be beaten more severely."

"The complaints voiced by these disgruntled men in the barber salons reflect the archaic "rights" they thought they deserved...For the most part I have dealt with wonderful upright Jamaican men and women who have nothing but respect and honour for each other," Simms said.

The constant conflict that exists between the sexes results from a reaction to the men's disrespectful actions, the women say.

"I am personally offended by the men who continuously bash Jamaican women because of their own inadequacies," a Jamaican female resident of Queens, New York said. "Just because they are now in the land of the free and home of the brave then they themselves have become brave and have taken to "white woman and Latino women" all because these so-called better women bring no drama."

Crooks takes it a step further.

"And yes, many women of other races and nationality will pick them up because they are sexually uninhibited. The Jamaican man likes that because now, he can get lots of oral sex, no question asked."

A Fort Lauderdale female resident who asked not to be named agreed. She said that Jamaican men needed to examine themselves to see why they prefer romantic involvement with other women than their own.

"Jamaican men fail to be honest and admit that it is not the drama that Jamaican women bring to them that sends them running to other women but the fact that a White or Latino woman is quick to fall on his penis, no matter when he pulls it out. Is that what makes them so-called "better" than we are? she asked. "We want to know where it was last, and when last it was tested. American women are really grateful when it comes to having a man.because men are in such shortage here and half of them are in jail that it is better for these women to have a deadbeat, wanna-be that keeps coming home to have sex. It's like heaven to them, but not so with our Jamaican sisters.man shortage or not."

The women argued that instead of casting blame the men should focus on cleaning up their act.

"Believe me, Jamaican men are no angels and it is definitely no walk in the park to deal with them on a romantic level," said Dionne Dixon, a Jamaican female, living in the United States. "They are stubborn and quite as much control freaks as they claim we are. They have no morals on fidelity. They believe that their promiscuous behavior is justified because they are male and have no regard for their companion's feelings. They are ungrateful and often take their women for granted."

"I strongly believe that some of the experiences described in the article may have been triggered by Jamaican men's demeaning behavior towards women," she said while explaining that all Jamaican men are not the same.

"I don't think all Jamaican men should be classified by these few examples. Likewise I cannot extrapolate my few experiences to represent all Jamaican men," Dixon stated.

Marcia Donalds, a 38-year-old data entry clerk, who married her Jamaican childhood sweetheart and took him to live with her in Canada, is disappointed at her husband's lack of involvement with responsibilities of the family. Not only that, since he has migrated to the country over 15 years ago, he has had extra-marital affairs and has even bore children with his mistresses. Five children later, and still living together with the bulk of responsibilities resting on her shoulders, Donalds feels betrayed.

"Jamaican men expect a lot from their women. They don't believe in equality. They believe that you should have 90% of the responsibilities and they 10%. They are lazy and most of them only worship vanity such as the latest pretty clothes, fancy car and just looking good," she said. "I think that when most of them leave Jamaica, they don't adapt to the Canadian lifestyle. Nothing is wrong in being patriotic to your country but the Jamaican man is dead-set in the Jamaican culture and offers no flexibility."

Josephine Beckford, a 44-year-old Events Coordinator in Toronto, Canada, is adamant that once abroad, the core of the Jamaican woman does not change.

"I don't think the Jamaican woman change per se. Instead, I think she has just gotten exposed to different opportunities. She adapts faster to her new environment and establishes herself quickly. She realises soon that she has more choices, so she is not totally dependent on her man," she said.

"Back home in Jamaica, it's more difficult for the average female in a relationship to be liberated because if she voices her opinion too forcefully, she might get hit or have her weekly household allowance withheld from her. Now, the average person in Canada can do all of the above without having to be from an elite class, or even to be middle-class," Beckford continued.

But there is more to it according to Barry Chevannes, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. He explained that the Jamaican man living abroad is in a complex situation.

"He is subjugated in a patriarchal society (a man's world, man ruling man), where he is seen as a threat to take over. It's men posing a threat to other men that causes the marginalization," he said. "An additional problem that the couple faces is racism but the brunt of that is directed at the black male rather than the female."

Chevannes explained that the man has less negotiating skills, while faced with the burden of racism in those circumstances and that the women are accepted easier, simply because she is not a threat. He said that it is easier for the woman to adjust and manipulate the system, upon migration, if she is educated.

"Another thing, if a woman is developing at a faster rate than the man, then they're bound to break up because of misunderstanding in the family," the sociologist said. "The two will have to grow together in order to stay together, or else they'll grow apart."

Chevannes offered coping tips and suggested that couples work together in understanding the system.

"It is better to have a proper understanding of what is taking place. If more and more couples understand the system then they can act together and that can change it. But if the genders split off from each other, nothing can be achieved," he said.

"That positive relation has to start with an understanding of a more complex situation-less education and racism," Chevannes said.

Crooks agreed. "It's not necessarily that we want to abandon our men. It's quite the contrary, but we are frustrated. We can't find a match overseas to match our intelligence. Perhaps the good, and educated Jamaican men are back home after all," she said.

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