Education, Values And The Move Towards A National Grooming Policy For Schools

There seems to be a conspiracy in some sections of the society to thwart all efforts by the majority of Jamaicans to acknowledge and reaffirm their blackness especially as this relates to how they choose to express and represent their Afro- centricity. The debate surrounding the appropriateness of the Afro hairstyle in our schools is very much timely, more so, in light of Miss Jamaica Universe Davina Bennett’s phenomenal success at the recently held Miss Universe competition. Miss Bennett mesmerized the global audience sporting her Afro hairstyle to place third. Interestingly, there were many in the society and the Diaspora who are still of the opinion that had she processed her hair she would have won the title. To what extent should the length and texture of one’s hair or hairstyle hinder one from receiving an education? Jamaica’s population is predominantly black. However, the society continues to be haunted by our colonial past in which our forefathers endured hundreds of years of enslavement. Sadly, the present generation still suffers from a post-slavery syndrome, in which we belittle all that is associated with Africa and craves a Eurocentric lifestyle which we have been indoctrinated to accept as being superior. We have accepted new forms of neo-colonialism which continue to keep our minds in shackles. All children regardless of race, religion and gender have the right to an education. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. Article 28 of the CRC, speaks to the Right to Education; in which Parties recognize the right of the child to education and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular: make primary education compulsory and free to all. Additionally, Parties should encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, make them available and accessible to every child and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need. Article 29 of the CRC addresses the Goals of Education whereby Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to: the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. It clearly means that no child can or should be barred from school simply because of a hairstyle which some may argue is an extension of one’s personality or associated with one’s religion. Many of us who are old enough will recall those days in which children of the Rastafarian faith had difficulty gaining acceptance to schools due to their dreadlocks. However, we have evolved over time, additionally policies and treaties have been developed to ensure that all children have a right and access to education. Jamaica also benefits from other ethnic groups. Are we going to ban boys for example who are of an Indian descent if they chose to grow their hair and gather it in one? Similarly, are we going to have a comprehensive ban on hair extensions? What if a student is having chemotherapy for cancer or going through some other medical condition? Should we allow a student to feel lesser than because of a grooming policy which might not take into account cultural and historical relevance? The education of our children should be paramount not only to make them better citizens but for sustainable development.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4 speaks to ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and the promotion of lifelong learning. It bares thought that obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. Furthermore, Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, (Constitutional Amendment) Act 2011 in sub-section K (ii) states “The Right of every child who is a citizen of Jamaica, to publicly funded tuition in a public educational institution at the pre-primary and primary level. It is very evident that those who were instrumental in creating Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights were aware of the importance of children accessing an education.

The Education Ministry recently stated that a grooming policy was being developed to provide guidelines not only on the appropriateness of hairstyles for school, but also on one’s overall deportment. However, the aspect of the proposed grooming policy which has generated most debate is whether or not Afro is an appropriate hairstyle for the purpose of school.

History of the Afro Hairstyle

It is widely believed that at the end of the 1950’s, a significant number of young black female dancers and jazz singers broke with traditional black cultural norms and wore unstraigthened hair. The hairstyle at the time had no name and was referred to close-cropped.  Over the years the close-cropped hairstyle developed into a large round shape, worn by both sexes and had to be groomed with a wide-toothed comb known as the Afro pick. It can be argued that the Afro-hairstyle which gained widespread acceptance and popularity especially by African Americans in the 1960’s and 1970’s served as a repudiation of Euro-centric beauty standards.

Barbers’ Perspective

While the society can accept that colouring of one’s hair can and does serve as a possible distraction in a classroom setting, certainly there is nothing unacceptable for a student to have Afro hairstyle for school. However, what say you of the Mohawk and Kid and Play hairstyles? I now share the views of two barbers on the subject matter. Oneil who has more than fifteen (15) years barbering experience said, “I disagree with those styles; you are going to school not a party”, he stated, “a low fade or all in one low”. Mr. Byfield is of the opinion that neither hairstyle is appropriate for school. “I don’t think neither of them should be worn in school because it’s a grown up hair cut that takes a lot of maintaining and expense to keep up with for them to be focusing on a hairstyle and not their school work”. He added, “because of the era and the fad that is wearing right now and most importantly the parents are not so hard on disciplining like back in the days when it comes to their kids, because frankly speaking most of them are kids themselves”. He ended by suggesting that in every business or organization there should be a grooming code to identify what is appropriate for work.

A Consultative Approach

Notwithstanding this there comes a sense of responsibility for all those who benefit from these rights. As a result there must be a broad based consultative approach to garner the opinions from all stakeholders before a final grooming policy is issued. Additionally, any grooming policy that is put forward must be gender fair to both sexes, as well as address the issue of skin bleaching. The tendency is for educators and policy makers to place girls under more scrutiny than boys. Boys are allowed to get away with wearing tight khaki pants and shirts, while our girls are compelled to follow the school rules regarding school uniform. One can only hope that any such policy will also speak to educational institutions which are non-government aided. There was a lead story in Thursday’s Gleaner; January 18, 2018 regarding Holy Trinity High School. According to the news report the institution barred students from the campus because of lateness and breaches of the school’s dress code. As a society we have lost our sense of appropriateness. We have failed our youngsters miserably by not passing on the morals which served us well. We are now reaping the effects of our collective abandonment of our responsibility to the youth. The fact is each educational institution is allowed the latitude to make up their own dress code; therefore it is very likely that what is acceptable for one school might not be appropriate for another. This is where the State through the Education Ministry needs to provide leadership. It is also critical that the State put forward an inclusive grooming policy to include independent schools. Unfortunately, in too many instances privately schooled students are not given the same level of protection as students who attend public educational institution. One recalls the incident in September of 2016 at a prominent preparatory school in St. Andrew where a child was denied entry to the school because of his mother’s refusal to cut his hair. The debate which ensued after divided the country and many at the time were of the opinion that the school’s stance on the matter was discriminatory and not in the best interest of the child. No child should be denied an education because of prejudice!

The State has a huge responsibility in ensuring that all the barriers to education for our children are removed. It is not the responsibility of the State to impose layers of various shapes and sizes in preventing access to education of the youth. We must never forget that education is a universal human right afforded to all.

In the words of Monica Millner, “I feel that the kinks, curls, or tight coils in Afro hair is beautiful and unique. No other race on this planet has hair like ours that makes me proud”.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


#Afro #education #sustainabledevelopment #school #hairstyles #Africa #society #culture #SDG’s #gender #beauty #dresscode #parents #mohawk #values #grooming



Skylarking Principalship And Ineffective School Boards

“You can have great teachers, but if you don’t have a good principal, you won’t have a good school”- Eli Broad

Are you satisfied with the level of leadership at your child’s school? This is the perennial question often asked by parents and other stakeholders in the education system. There is usually a sense of arrogance associated with a significant number of our principals at all stages of the public education system. It can be argued that this undesirable trait among some principals is not unique to our shores and is perhaps widespread in leadership in general. Our culture of arrogance in leadership is often rooted in a lack of an accountability framework which has also dogged our political system over the decades. Disturbingly, many principals have found enablers in the same public education system which ought to hold both principals and teachers accountable. Regrettably, the playing field is not level in the public education system and as a result skylarking principals are allowed the luxury of remaining in their jobs despite of their weak and ineffective leadership, and to add insult to injury such principals are sometimes given extension of their tenure. It bares thought what is the purpose of the National Education Inspectorate (NEI)? The NEI was established as a result of the 2004 National Task Force Report on Educational Reform to ensure quality assurance as well as to effect changes complementary to the transformation of the public education system. Among the roles and responsibilities of the National Education Inspectorate (NEI) are to report on the quality of leadership and management of the learning environment in the school or learning institution, the quality of teaching, the quality of student response, the extent to which students have access to the curriculum and the quality of the provisions to support safety, health and well-being. I am sure you will agree that on least paper the mandate of the (NEI) sounds rather holistic and impressive; however, we know that theory and reality can be worlds apart. In some instances in spite of damning NEI reports surrounding the leadership of some school, nothing much is done to bring about change and progress. We have fostered an education system in which principals are allowed to transform and operate themselves as demigods in a comfort zone they have established for themselves. Ironically, many principals themselves serve as a hindrance to the quality of teaching that transpires at their school. Too many principals have lost their way and have made their schools chambers of mental torture instead of a place for teaching and learning. It is sad, that many competent teachers have been passed over for promotion due to the spiteful nature of weak principals. The respect that principals once held and demanded in both the education system and the wider society have been eroded over the years due to the divisive leadership which has come to characterize some of them. It is so distressing when the student population loses respect for a principal. Too many principals have become vindictive and controlling and in the process ruin their schools to the extent to which such institutions have become holding areas due to a lack of transformational leadership. Sadly, gone are the days when a principal was a person of impeccable character and integrity. Why does the education system continues to extend a principal’s tenure after he/she has reached the retirement age especially when it is clear that the individual has not contributed much to the overall development of the school. I am still waiting for a plausible answer to my question. It would appear that some principals have more influence and connections that they have become untouchables over the years. One is left to conclude that the interference of politics in the appointment of principals have done more to tarnish the education system than perhaps any other factor since political independence in 1962.

In many instances the best candidate for the position of principalship is not selected due to the long reach of politics. Invariably, our students, as well as, their communities and the country suffer in the short and medium term. We need to rid the public education system of such principals. However, it’s easier said than done especially since the layers of accountability are often comprised.

Ineffective School Boards

The Education Regulations of 1980 which outlines the framework under which all schools should operate makes it clear regarding the oversight of the Board of Management. However, is some instances manipulation and corrupt practices can and does undermine the intent of the Education Act regarding the appointment and operation of School Boards. In some instances there is no line of separation between the office of the pincipalship and that of the School Board. As a result many schools suffer, many teachers do not receive a fair hearing, and inevitably the students pay a high price for the ineffectiveness of School Boards. Unfortunately, there are many school board members who have no expertise in the area of management and or supervision and are clueless regarding why they are on the Board of Governors or what their roles and duties are as members. This is not only unacceptable it’s pathetic!

Transformation and Modernization

Jamaica’s public education system has been undergoing a process of transformation and modernization over the years. In fact, the process of change is going at a fast pace and many supporting agencies of the Education Ministry have been established, such as, the Jamaica Teaching Council, the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL) and the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC) However, while this move is commendable it is obvious that more can and ought to be done in order to increase students’ performance and ensure equity, accountability and transparency. There needs to be a resolve in eradicating toxic principalship at all levels of the education system.

We need to change how School Boards members are appointed. We need a broad-based participatory approach from all stakeholders on the subject of such appointments. We need to work towards creating and maintaining a culture of transparency and in so doing we need to have term limits regarding those who serve on School Boards. Additionally, we need to have sanctions in place for those School Board members who prostitute their position. I strongly believe that the position of School Board chair person should be rotated every two years. We need to ensure that all gaps are legally closed so as to minimize any likely corrupt practices and collusion which might occur between the leadership of schools and School Boards. In order to strengthen the framework for transparency and accountability we must audit all schools receiving government funding. Furthermore, all School Boards should also be audited at least annually. The time to speak about fostering and facilitating a culture of accountability is now, we must act now. No one will argue against the fact that the hardworking taxpayers of Jamaica deserve better. Our students deserve better. We also need to revisit how and why the extension of tenure of principals should occur. This process currently seems to be too secretive and subjective resulting in many weak and ineffective principals being given additional time. Frankly speaking if you were a weak, vindictive and poor leader during the time of being a principal, what will be gained by extending the time of such a principal?

Over the years, many of our teachers, students and other workers have been marginalized, unfairly penalized, unfairly separated from their jobs, hurt, had their reputation tarnished by wicked principals and ineffective School Boards.

Yes, there are excellent principals and we salute them. We are forever indebted to our outstanding educators and nation builders who have given service beyond self to Jamaica, land we love.

I leave with you the words of Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord”.           

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


#education #schools #principals #leadership #schoolboards #teachers #transparency #integrity #character #accountability #justice #promotion #principalship #curriculum #Jamaica

Disaster Management And Tsunamis

An earthquake unlike most other natural disasters gives no warning. As a result the potential for death; destruction and displacement are so much higher even with the best disaster management systems in place. The Caribbean based on its geographical position is very much prone to seismic conditions, and regrettably the region has had its fair share of same. Each January, Jamaica commemorates Earthquake Awareness Month; in fact the week of January 7-13 is designated as Earthquake Awareness Week. The theme this year is “Preparing for the quake helps reduce damage after a shake”.

On Tuesday, January 9, 2018 a powerful 7.6 earthquake occurred off the Honduran coast. The U.S. Tsunami Warning System issued tsunami warning treats to the coast of Cuba, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Panama, Costa Rica and Jamaica and tsunami advisories for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Understandably, there was some amount of panic and concern among the population the following morning since many persons were asleep while all this seismic activity was going on. It was a mere eight years ago that Haiti was devastated by a powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake which killed an estimated 200,000 individuals. In 1907, an earthquake rocked Jamaica resulting in the deaths of 1000 inhabitants. Thankfully since then Jamaica has been spared any significant earthquake, however, we should not take things for granted and should be now realize that disaster management and preparation is a coordinated and ongoing process.. The word tsunami for many became more widely used and appreciated after the catastrophic 8.6 magnitude Indian Ocean earthquake in 2004 which occurred off the coast of Indonesia in which over 280, 000 people in fourteen (14) countries were killed. A tsunami is a very large, high wave in the ocean which is usually caused by an earthquake under the sea and to some extent there is still much misconception about the occurrence of this.

Responsibility of the State

All activities surrounding earthquake awareness month and week are synchronized by The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). However, the tsunami alerts which were triggered by the earthquake of January 9 are a clear indication that Jamaica is not where she should be in the event that a powerful earthquake was to strike the island. It is noteworthy that the earthquake struck in the middle of the Caribbean Sea at a depth of 10 kilometres. The epi-center of the earthquake was 202 miles north-northeast Barra Patuca, Honduras and about 190 miles southwest of West Bay in the Cayman Islands. At the time of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami alerts many Jamaicans were already in their beds and were unaware of what was taking place. Those of us who were awake at that time of night must thank the many social media platforms; especially Twitter for keeping us abreast of what was taking place. It is evident that as a country we urgently need a National Disaster Alert System to keep the citizenry informed and updated on any pending natural disasters. It is also clear that information must be readily dispatched and dissemination in a speedy manner in order for citizen to move to higher ground if they must. While the pilot tsunami multipurpose hazard siren installed in the Old Harbour Bay community is commendable, this is not enough. Jamaica is surrounding by water and has a plethora of coastal towns all of which are in need of such a system. The State must become more proactive in ensuring that common sense building practices are observed. We should discourage the explosion of unplanned settlements which have sprung up all across the country and can be argued encouraged for political purposes. While we are grateful that no injury was recorded from the earthquake and that the tsunami alerts were cancelled within 30 minutes of their activation we ought to be mindful that this should be viewed as a dress rehearsal to remind us that we should not become complacent and drop the ball regarding disaster management and preparation. In preparing for an earthquake we need to engage the citizenry more in public education and town hall meetings, as well as utilizing social media in a more effective manner. It was only a tsunami scare this time, who knows what will happen the next time, we might not be so lucky.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


#tsunami #socialmedia #earthquake #disastermanagement #Caribbean #ODPEM


Who Are The Pillars of Community Development

Do you remember Jamaica of old? No, I am not referring to that period in our history of cooking on coal fire outside, or using the pit latrine because there was no inside bathroom. I speak of old Jamaica in terms of the positive values and attitudes of our foreparents which have made us who we are as a strong and proud people. Perhaps you are mature enough to recall; on the other hand maybe you don’t recollect a Jamaica of yesteryear due to your youthfulness. The human tendency is for us to reminisce at a bygone period when situations are not going in the direction in which we hope. Jamaica ended 2017 with more than 1600 murders. The population of Jamaica is approximately 2.7 million; the country’s murder rate makes us rank among the highest homicide rates in the world. A study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimates the direct cost of crime and violence in Latin America and the Caribbean at $261 billion or 3.55 per cent of Gross Development Product (GDP). Over the years there have been various estimates of the cost of crime to Jamaica, which range from 3.7 per cent of GDP taking only direct costs into account to 7.1 per cent of GDP once indirect costs are included.

Those of us, who were born in the pre- Independence era, undoubtedly will recall with fondness and glee a Jamaica of peace, order and discipline. Yes times were economically challenging but this deficient regarding the economics were made up for in strong family and community engagement. Jamaica then had a strong sense of community, and each child could be reprimanded by the elders of the community. The Jamaica of old had a set of community leaders which I referred to as the ‘pillars’ or guardians.

Pillars of Community Development

Among the ‘pillars’ of the community was the school teacher, the policeman, the postmistress, the pastor, all of whom were revered and well-respected. These individuals were role models and although they were not rich by any definition they had something which money could not buy. Yes, character! It begs the question, what has happened to our ‘pillars’ of our communities? What has happened to Jamaica? It can be argued that there are still ‘pillars’ of communities; disturbingly, we now have the drug don, the political activist, the deportee and those who are actively engaged in criminal activities as the new wave of guardians of the community. We have replaced respect with fear of. We now live in a state of panic, characterized by many law-abiding citizens turning a blind eye to wrong doings out of a genuine fear of being killed or having their family member/s be killed should they report. In addition, we have a police force which many Jamaicans view as corrupt; this has further fuel the crime wave and allowed the “informer fi dead” culture to grow and flourish. Regrettably, many of our older communities are dying or have died. This death in and among communities did not occur suddenly, but instead has been facilitated by the State’s inability to police, protect, reassure, enforce laws and regulations regarding governance. The State silence and indecisiveness on matters such as, zoning of residential areas, as well as entertainment zones have allowed “a money for all” sub-culture to emerge. This “money for all” sub-culture has taken away from the average Jamaican the choice to choose given their lack of disposable incomes and forced many to remain in dying communities. There are many examples of same; one only has to look at lower Maxfield Avenue, as well as the garrison communities and downtown Kingston. I am reminded that Hagley Park Road was once a prime residential area, now due to commercialization the area has turned into an auto parts hub. The state of lawlessness is at the root at the New Year’s Day held #sandz party which blocked vehicular access to and from the Norman Manley International Airport resulting in scores of passengers missing their flights and creating a traffic nightmare for hours along the #PalisadoesRoad.

The dons spread across many communities have benefitted tremendously and continue to do due to extortion money and now have more control over people’s lives in many inner-city areas.

The rich and well connected who live above Half Way Tree in suburban areas and gated communities do not have to encounter such social ills and stresses. Sadly, this vacuum of leadership in this regard has been evident across the political divide. In too many instances the State has stood by and has allowed the total destruction of communities. The housing crisis has been further acerbated by business people of ill-gotten wealth buying houses in older communities and using this medium as a means of money laundering. In many cases the criminals are known, however, corruption is rife and people can be paid off to look in the opposite direction.

The Way Forward

The crime monster for most if not all Jamaicans has become the number one priority. There is a sense of hopelessness as no one knows who next will fall victim to crime and violence. One does not have to be ‘mixed up’ to fall prey to the gunman’s bullet. We need to return to an era of civility and law and order. We need to replace the pillars of our communities with people of integrity and character. We need to redouble and galvanize our collective efforts to fight crime, lawlessness and indiscipline. We need a zero tolerance against crudeness and vulgarity. We need a government- citizenry partnership involving all segments of the society to fight crime. As a society we need to recapture the bond of social cohesiveness which served us well in the past. Our social relations skills need to be sharpened as we relate to each in our families and in the wider community. We need to become our brother’s keeper once again. We need to rescue Jamaica.

In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, “this world of ours, ….must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect”.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


#sustainabledevelopment #Jamaica #community #culture #entertainment #governance #law #crime #education #population #youth #values #attitudes #socialization

Celebrating Kwanzaa: Reconnecting With Our Culture

“A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together”!-Author Unknown

The survival of any civilization is strongly connected to the adherence of traditions and mores, as well as how well that society adjusts to changes. The Caribbean, particularly Jamaica undoubtedly has a strong Judeo- Christian culture which has influenced and shaped how we chose to celebrate important culturally milestones. However, in spite of this, there is a growing trend among people of African descent to embrace our historically references as it relates to Africa; one such linkage to the Motherland is that of Kwanzaa.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means ‘first fruits’ in Swahili.

Kwanzaa is a week long holiday honoring African culture and traditions. Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States of America as a ritual to welcome the first harvest to the home. Since then the celebrations have gained acceptance and popularity among many African American communities and culturally space.

Kwanzaa is a non-religious celebration which serves to celebrate cultural reaffirmation among people of African descent. Kwanzaa falls between December 26 and January 1 each year. While many of us continue to seek the ‘truth; the celebration of “Africanness” is most welcomed given the tendency for people of colour to readily embrace foreign cultures. The celebration of Kwanzaa is a family oriented festival in which candles are lit and libations are poured. A libation is the name given to a ritual pouring to a god. A wooden unity cup is often used to pour the libations.

A Kwanzaa ceremony often includes performances of music and drumming, and draws inspiration from Pan-Africanism symbolized in the colours of red, green and black.

Red is the colour of Shango, the Yoruba god of fire, thunder and lightning. Green represents the earth which sustains life and black depicts the people representing hope and creativity and faith.

It is customarily at a Kwanzaa festivity for women to be adorned in brightly coloured traditional clothing. As a matter of course some cultural organization hold special exhibitions of African influenced art or performances during the celebrations of Kwanzaa.

Historically, the observers of Kwanzaa were strict to their beliefs and did not mix any elements of other festivals into their celebrations. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly common for celebrants of Kwanzaa to infuse Christmas or New Year celebrations. Interestingly, the main symbols of Kwanzaa are the ‘Mkeka’, or place mat is made from straw or cloth and is symbolic in laying the foundation for self-actualization on which to put the objects needed for the celebrations, the unity cup is used to pour libations to the ancestor, a candle holder reminds believers in the ancestral beginnings in one of the 55 African countries. The seven candles serves as a reminder of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, the corn signifies children and the hope associated with in the younger generation. Last but by no means least gifts represent commitments of the parents of the children. It is routine to have a celebration of culinary delights on December 31.

Principles of Kwanzaa

The seven principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity ad earth. The principles called the Nguzo Saba are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African- Americans.

It is noteworthy that the Kwanzaa flag consists of three colours. Additionally, there are five common sets of values associated with Kwanzaa. These are ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment and celebration. The candle- lighting ceremony each evening provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning of the festivity. On the first night the black candle in the center is lit and the principle of unity is discussed.

While Kwanzaa is not overwhelmingly observed in Jamaica at this time it can be argued that as more and more Jamaicans seek to reconnect to their African culture and traditions through productive work in order to better themselves, their families and the wider community it is likely that we will witness the growth of Kwanzaa throughout the region.

In the powerful words of Herman Melville, “we cannot live only for ourselves. A thousands fibers connects us with our fellow men”

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


#Kwanzaa #Christmas #culture #religion #Africa #Jamaica #Caribbean #AfricanaStudies #BlackHistory

Sex Toys and Sexuality

The history surrounding the genesis of sex toys is rather vague and quite intriguing. Sex toys and sex are still very much tabooed subjects in most parts of the world and this oftentimes clouds a honest and open discourse regarding such issues. In fact there was an era not so long ago when the use of sex toys was seen as repulsive and abnormal requiring medical intervention for those who seek the pleasure of these gadgets. However, human sexuality over the years has evolved and continues to do so at a rapid pace. The definition of human sexuality differs according to the context in which the term is used, however, in simple terms human sexuality is the way by which we express our maleness and femaleness; in other words how we experience the erotic and express ourselves as sexual beings. It is estimated that the sex toy industry is a multi-billion one in which many of the pleasure toys are designed after popular female porn stars and by extension cater to the whims and fancy of men more so than women. Undoubtedly, sex and sex toys are still unmentionable subjects in some circles. Susan Colvin, founder and CEO OF CalExotics in a Forbes magazine interview said that the sex toy market is a $15 billion industry with projections to surpass $50 billion by 2020 in which customers seeks sex paraphernalia to arouse, stimulate and enhance sexual pleasure of both sexes. The phenomenal success of the recently released movie, 50 Shades of Grey, as well as, other movies of the same erotic and sensual genre have fuelled the adult toy and entertainment industries to the point where the guilt and shame once associated with sex toys and their usage hardly exits. It is widely reported that the Kegel Balls ran out of stock once the book 50 Shades of Grey was published. One can assume that Amazon is and remains the largest purveyor of adult toys, offering a wide range of items. Online ordering and discreet shipping saves the prospective purchaser the embarrassment of exposing one’s secret sexual desires to strangers. Claudy, 54, certainly understands and appreciates the change in the ordering of adult toys. He mentioned”in dem days Mail Pac was the means to bring in stuff to Jamaica without much issue”. He added that these packages were always opened and explored with parts and things missing before they were delivered. His sex toy of choice was the Fleshlight. He confided that he was first introduced to this sex toy by a friend and that the curiosity got a hold of him to experience this. He ended our brief chat with the simple but popular statement, “to each his own”.

It is amazing how our views on sexuality have changed overtime. A few years ago women wore ankle-length dresses, sexual intercourse was for procreation not pleasure and masturbation was shunned, however, today, these practices as well as many others are sexually acceptable and practiced.

Sex Toys of Choice

In doing this blog, a number of colleagues shared their experiences about using sex toys. Orvin, 40, revealed that his sex toy of choice was the nipple clamp. “There is only one part of my body that get sexually aroused my nipple”. He added that he learned about the nipple clamp via magazines and asked a friend who was travelling at the time to buy him one. In describing the clamp he said, the ends connecting to the nipples were made of plastic with grits, he added that there was also a chain which connected both clamps. He stated that the nipple clamp operated similarly to a clothes pin. Orvin declared that he used the nipple clamps for about 2 years until the plastic section of the toy became crystallized. When asked if he knew of any local adult sex toy store, he stated that he knows of at least one sex toy store in a plaza along Old Harbour Road in St. Catherine.

Trevin age 61 revealed that he first started using sex toys or gadgets as he prefers to call them in his 30’s. According to him, he first became aware of these devices from seeing them in shops and in porn movies. “I have used a few cock rings”. He added that ‘rings’ give a very rigid ‘hard on’. He disclosed that before buying the cock rings he used rubber bands. Trevin added that “The fleshlight gives you awesome stimulation. You can combine both and be in ecstasy heaven”. He also shared that he has also used the prostate stimulator. “Oh yes, to the stimulator. The biology makes sense”. Trevin, who is married, when on to give a quick lesson in Biology “when the peri anal and the perineal muscles contract around the gadget that’s pressed against the prostate, Wow!” He commented further, “These are the muscles as well as the penile contraction that are responsible for the expulsion of semen”. He ended by saying he would recommend these pleasure toys.

The use of sex toys is by no means the domain of men. Women are no longer shy to admit to the use of sex toys. Over the years the dildo has been a popular sex toys for a significant number of women, both married and single as they seek additional sexual pleasure or just pleasure in general.

A female colleague while stating she understands why some women use sex toys said she prefers intimacy and human contact because sex toys are impersonal. She admits however that there is some form of communication using sex toys. She opines that women who turn to sex toys do so for many reasons, such as, being hurt by men in the past. Secondly, women seeking optimum pleasure which some men are unable to provide, she reiterates that women know their bodies and as a result they can use the sex toys to receive optimum please.

It is interesting to note that the male ego is usually hurt if he is aware that his female partner is using sex toys to get pleasure. Most males will feel a sense of being inadequate to know this, as a result a significant number of women do not readily disclose this information to their male partner.

One respondent David, age 55 revealed that he has been using sex toys for over 10 years. According to him, he uses these gadgets every two weeks. Interestingly, says his wife is aware that he uses the pleasure toys. David, who has a graduate degree, works in the Health Care sector. His sex toys of choice are the flesh light and the prostate stimulator. In response to the question, what do you think about sex toys he said, “They are better than having sex another individual”.

Another respondent who I will refer to as Samuel, age 56, stated he has been using sex toys for over 5 years since a friend introduced it to him. Intriguingly, Samuel is also married; however, his wife is unaware that he seeks pleasure from these mechanical devices. When asked what his opinion about sex toys is, he said, “beneficial to keeping me away from sexual exploits”.

It is clear that for many men turning to sex toys for pleasure keeps them from entering extra-marital relationships.

It is obvious that more and more Jamaicans are being exposed to and using sex toys. However, it bares thought whether the importation of these devices are legal? In a Jamaica Observer article dated August 29, 2012, the Customs Department at the time said, it would not interfere with the importation of sex toys into Jamaica until the Attorney General makes a ruling on their legality. It is interesting to note that section 40 (XIII) of the Customs Act speaks to importation of indecent and obscene articles. It is interesting that a Google search of adult sex toys produced a number of business establishment where Jamaicans can go to purchase these items. Conversely, there is ongoing debate surrounding the legality surrounding the importation of sex toys. On the other hand, there are those who advocate that sex toys are health aids and as such should not be viewed as pornographic and or repugnant in an age of modernity.

It is evident that the pleasure industry will continue to see extraordinary growth in years to come. Gone are the days when people were shy in ordering sex toys. There is now boldness and a desire to embrace one’s sexuality regardless of the consequences especially in an era of social media. We can certainly expect to see the conversation of human sexuality widen and expand to include related forms such as the sexual health of both sexes.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


#sexuality #sextoys #gender #adult #society #pleasure #eroticism #health #cockrings #kegelballs #prostatestimulator #fleshlight

Sex toys word cloud concept


Jaye’s Journey

“AIDS today is not a death sentence. It can be treated as a chronic illness, or a chronic disease”- Yusuf Hamied

I first met Jaye in 2002. She was always elegantly attired and went about her tasks in a professional manner. Jaye is approximately 5 feet 5 inches and was born in the parish of Clarendon, the last of five children. She mentioned that her childhood was difficult despite growing up in a nuclear family. “We were poor, but surprisingly, we did not realize it then”. “My mother made sure we had something to eat”.

Jaye, has been living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) since she was diagnosed in 1998 at age 29. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of 2016 there were 36.7 million people living with HIV, of which 20.9 million are on antiretroviral therapy. Regrettably, since the onset of the global HIV epidemic women have been disproportionately affected and infected by HIV. According to UNAIDS, HIV disproportionately affects women and girls because of vulnerabilities created by unequal cultural, social and economic status.

The Early Years

Jaye, revealed that at about age 9 or 10 she went to live with her grandmother in St. Mary because her mother returned to school. It was during this time that she went to live with her grandmother for approximately 2 years until her mother completed her studies. Life in the early days was a bit of challenge for Jaye and her family. She lived in a 3 bedroom house which was a combination of board and concrete. There was no inside bathroom, in fact their bathroom was a pit latrine surrounded by sheets of zinc. The family also had to cook outside. “It was very challenging because while we were preparing meals, water from the zinc would be leaking over the fire and we had to be blowing with our mouths and fanning’ (by using a pot cover) to keep the flames alive” Jaye continued, “ The house was mainly surrounded by Hibiscus plants which was cut and shaped by a machete. The Hibiscus plants was what was used for a ‘door’ or covering for the bathroom. Life for Jaye and her siblings was rather routine and simple and consisted of school, church and home. “We could not miss church or school unless it was really necessary”. “Sometimes, however, we had to be absent from school and travel many miles on foot through hills and valleys to my father’s farm to help reap the crops for sale”.


Just like childhood, adulthood proved to be quite distressing for Jaye. She got married at 21, having met her husband during college. “I was still residing with my parents; however, I became a pregnant unmarried woman and was thrown out of my parent’s house. I was told to leave because of the shame and disgrace on the family and community. This was because of my family social standing”. Jaye, revealed that she was infected with HIV through her husband. “He got ill at one point, started to lose weight and decided to visit the doctor. Tests were done for cancer and other conditions, but all results came back negative. It was then the doctor decided to do a HIV test. This came back positive. He was diagnosed then with full blown AIDS. I later did my test and it came back as HIV Positive. I was very angry and afraid. When he became aware of my status, he was very sympathetic. However until this year 2017, he still insists that he does not know how he contracted it .I was accused by his mother that I was the one who came from Jamaica and infected him because he was quite fine before he met me. Being a womanizer, promiscuous and dishonest, there is no question as to how he contracted it”.

Family Support            

It makes a huge difference to have the support of family and friends while facing any disease, more so HIV. “My family members are now aware of my status. I kept it from them for about a year. I suffered in silence. I did not disclose immediately because of the series of events that led to that point. I was guilt ridden (and still is) because I blamed myself for the pregnancy, so I was thinking that everything that led to that was my mistake. My older sister was the first person I told. Following that, the rest of my immediate family was made aware. They were extremely angry but very sympathetic .There was some relief knowing that they finally knew and that I could receive their support. I am still receiving their support. Yes my mom knew about my status. She supported me through the years. I was grateful for that, as many persons are not that lucky or fortunate”.

Living with HIV

“My life has changed dramatically since being diagnosed. I am no longer the person who I used to be, mentally, physically, socially, emotionally. I no longer have trust in anyone. Living with HIV is not easy. It can be, or seems to be for some people, as each one is affected in some similar or different way. I do experience lots of fatigue particularly because of my mental state. I became chronically depressed and was in a very dark place. I was diagnosed with Chronic Depression and PTSD. Even with medication that did not help. As a result my doctor decided to add another medication to boost the anti –depressant. I became more of a recluse and most often times still is. There is sadness, fear, anxiety anger and guilt. People often say that they understand, but what is it that they understand? How can they really understand? The moods come and go, there are days when I just feel like not going anywhere or seeing anyone or doing anything. For months I can remember I was just in my room not doing anything, not wanting anyone to bother me. There is the constant worry about, what if……? What if…..? Health care is great and I am on the best medications, but I still ponder these questions, what is happening in my body? What if the medications suddenly decide to fail? What then? I have become more aware of my body and its reactions. If I see something not looking right or there is an unusual feeling, then I begin to think. There is the feeling of rejection. I have not been in a relationship for many years, and that is because I was rejected twice for being honest. That is something I do not want to experience again. It is one of the worst feelings. You are made to feel dirty, scarred, unworthy, unwanted, unclean, a death sentence and a constant reminder of what you have. That is no way to live. There is the fear of never finding that person who will accept you and love you for who you are. There is constant fear and worry of HIV disclosure, when to disclose, how to disclose, should you disclose, and the partner’s reaction after disclosure, as well as the implications of disclosure. As a result, there is the constant feeling of loneliness and unworthiness. Seeing people falling in love, walking holding hands, marrying , having fun, spending time with each other makes me sad, make me feel unworthy discarded and unloved because I know what I have and the misconceptions and stigma surrounding HIV. And what makes it worse is that the negative experience you have with some of those who are against stigma and discrimination or those who are supposed to be ‘educated’ it doesn’t get any easier. Sometimes there is difficulty in concentration as the mind often wanders. I am here, but in fact I am not here. The lack of sleep, anxiety, irregular and sometimes unhealthy eating habits, loss of appetite are all some of what I experience. I constantly worry about the stigma and discrimination and that bothers me. Taking my medications daily is a constant reminder of what I have, and that contributes to my depression as well. I know there are many who are trying to help and many who will say, “you are not alone”, but you are indeed alone. When in your private ‘space’ and you look at yourself from the outside, that is when it really hits you, that you indeed are alone. I have not reached the point of acceptance after all these years”. “On a daily basis I take three tablets which include 2 for depression and PTSD. When I was first diagnosed I was taking four tablets per day, two in the mornings and the evenings”. However, with advancements in medicine, those persons infected by HIV/AIDS are able to live longer and more fulfilled lives. Many HIV/AIDS persons no longer have to be taking three or four tablets per days. As with all medications, there are side effects. But the way in which they affect me, might not necessarily affect another person at all or in the same way. In addition not all HIV/AIDS meds have the same side effects. I am thankful that I have not been experiencing any severe side effects of my medication. I have only been nauseous a few times along with a lack of appetite. Other common side effects are diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, body fat redistribution and lactic acidosis which includes difficulty breathing, fast or irregular heartbeat, weakness, unusual muscle pain and dizziness.

Jaye provided some heartfelt and sound advice for those who are infected as well as for those who are sexually active but are unaware of their HIV status. “To those infected by HIV/AIDS I say, live in the now and not be too be caught up in fears about what the future holds. Try to find a balance to live with your medical status by not allowing HIV/AIDS to control your life. Try to be hopeful, take care of your health and most important, adhere to your medication regime. Always try to do the things that make you feel good. Try to avoid negative energies and do not let the opinions of others control who you are. Surround yourself with beautiful things, embrace today and live today for tomorrow. Try not to become a recluse but try to connect with others so as to establish a chain of support. HIV/AIDS does not define you. There is life after HIV”.

Living by Faith

Jaye shared a little about her faith and how her anchor in God was tested. “It has been a struggle for me regarding my faith, as I used to question why God allowed this in my life and all the ‘domino effects’ after. Is it my punishment from Him because I was an unmarried pregnant woman? Or is it something having a greater meaning or purpose? I do not know the answer. However what I can say is that if it weren’t for God, I would not be alive and healthy at this moment. I could have been like countless others, being homeless, abandoned, banished, sick and suffering and without support. I am grateful everyday for His blessings and mercies. I can see His blessings in my life. There are still many doubts at times and my faith wavers, but I do try my best, as I am thankful and grateful everyday for what I have and how far I have come, and I know I have much more to contribute”.

The Cost of Medication

The cost of medication is expensive regardless of where one lives. According to Jaye who currently lives in Canada it cost $5,000 Canadian dollars for three months supply of antiretroviral drugs (ARV’s). However, she quickly adds that the State provides assistance with the cost of the medication. The federal, provincial, and territorial governments of Canada are responsible for the administration of their own publicly-funded out-patient prescription drug benefit program. Each offers varying levels of coverage, with different eligibility criteria, enrolment processes, deductibles etc.

Some are income-based universal programmes. Most have specific programmes for population groups that may require more enhanced coverage for high drug costs. Some examples are Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) programme provide coverage for drugs listed on the ‘Drug Benefit List’. Interim Federal Health (IFH) programme provides limited temporary health insurance to protected persons, including resettles refugees, and refugee claimants in Canada through three basic types of coverage. There is also the Canada Forces Health Services (CFHS) which is the designated health care provider for Canada’s military personnel.

Regardless of the jurisdiction which governs us, we all belong to one race, the human race and should therefore show compassion and empathy towards those who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The global World AIDS Day campaign with the theme: Right to Health fits perfectly with the WHO slogan of Everyone Counts. The WHO continues to advocate for access for safe, effective, quality, and affordable medicines in reaching the goal of universal health coverage. It bares thought that meaningful and sustainable development cannot be achieved if the AIDS epidemic continues unabated and is allowed to drain our human resources. A concerted global campaign is required as we work towards better medicines and a world without AIDS. On this World AIDS Day, December 1, I wish to wholeheartedly thank my friend Jaye for sharing her story, a story of hardship, resilience and survival. In all the years I have known Jaye I have never seen her frown. She is always so very engaging and generous. I truly hope Jaye’s story will provide some inspiration for someone who is going through a similar journey. As the interview came to a close Jaye made an appeal in a powerful statement “Get tested, at least once per year. There are many who have the virus but are not aware of this. It can be present in the body, but at the time of testing, does not have a positive indication. It is also necessary to remember that the virus is not only transmitted through sexual intercourse. Hence the importance of annual testing”.

Jaye, strongly believes in giving back and as such she is a volunteer with several support groups. These support groups assist with accommodation, medical referrals, child support, internet access and educational upgrading to name a few. The groups have been my tower of strength and support. I would not have made it this far without them, Jaye added.

As a society we need to create and engage in more public education campaigns, especially those of a gender transformative nature which will appeal to men while at the same time reduce violence and serve as a tool of empowerment for women. Jamaica continues to lag behind in terms of passing legislation which will make it a criminal offense for a HIV positive person not to disclose their status before engaging in sexual behaviours and this needs urgent attention. In the closing words of Jaye, “Discrimination, stigma and banishment only adds salt to the wounds of the affected”.

The pseudonym Jaye was used so as to conceal the identity of the interviewee.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


#EveryoneCounts #MyRighttoHealth #WorldAIDSDay #sustainabledevelopmentgoals #culture #gender #violence #stigma #discrimination #depression #UNAIDS #womenshealth #healthcare

Celebrating Men and Boys

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” –Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.

It is rather disturbing and disingenuous that in the discourse surrounding gender relations, the issues which are of concern to men are often kicked to the curb. Our general stereotype of men and masculinity often runs counter to having an enlightened engagement of men’s issues, and sadly those who advocate for men’s issues are frequently looked upon as strange.

However, not to be daunted there is an urgent need for a concerted and sustained campaign to realign and re-balance the narrative to one of gender inclusiveness. Perhaps there is no better time to sit down and discuss men’s issues than International Men’s Day (IMD) which provides such a platform on which positive manhood can be celebrated. Needless to say we will never have gender equality if we continue to ignore the plight of any one sex. The ongoing gender debate in the society regarding the lack of male presence in our families and the general state of masculinity is often poisonous to the male gender, and this is certainly not beneficial in having a society which respects everyone regardless of one’s sex. We must never forget that there are good fathers, husbands and men in general. It bares thought that in order to bring awareness to the work and sacrifices of good men; we should celebrate Men and Boys, which interestingly is the theme for International Men’s Day (IMD) on November 19, 2017. Among the objectives of International Men’s Day (IMD) are; the improvement of gender relations, a focus on men’s and boy’s health, the promoting of gender equality and to highlight positive male role models.

International Men’s Day is that one day that is set aside to commemorate the achievements and contribution of men in all spheres of the society; in their communities, families, marriage, and child care while recognizing the discrimination men experience.

Men’s Rights: Celebrating Men and Boys

According to a 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) research, male life expectancy at birth was 69 years compared to 75 years for women, therefore women on average live 5 years longer than men. Among the twenty causes of death listed by the 2015 WHO survey, prostate cancer, HIV/AIDS, violence, coronary heart attack are of particular concern to men. It is paradoxically to speak of a celebration of men and boys which addresses needs which are of concern to them. Our men and boys must be in good health for example in order to have this celebration. We need to revisit the culture in which men are socialized to bare pain and not to seek medical attention leading to a state of unwellness and oftentimes death. Another related area of concern for men is that of suicide rate. Males are particularly at risk at taking their lives, up to three times more likely than women, due to how they are socialized to be macho. Suicide in men has been described as a “silent epidemic”, epidemic because of its high incidence and substantial contribution to men’s mortality. This macho-induced model of socialization often runs counter to the perception of maleness and masculinity and prevents men from seeking the necessary help and or support in working out personal and relational issues which oftentimes are at the root of suicide.

There are some who will undoubtedly question what discrimination men face in the patriarchal society and indeed world; however, in most countries men still face prejudice in terms of family law, specifically as it relates to child custody. The tendency is for the family court system to award mothers’ custody of children.

Defining masculinity and manhood is rather subjective and fluid. However, Linden Lewis defines masculinity as a socially construct of gendered behaviours and practices of men, which are not frozen in time or culture and which are mediated by notions of race, class, ethnicity, religion, age and sexual orientation. The fact is in order to have good men; the society must take on the role of mentoring our boys to become the good men.

It is important that as men we seek to raise the awareness of issues which are of concern not only to men but to having a more harmonious gender relation. The discourse surrounding issues of gender and development is often imbalanced resulting in a void regarding the concerns of men and boys. It is imperative that as men we are given the space and time necessary to share our concerns, stories and achievements. Men and Boys ought to be celebrated! We should not forget the government’s role in relations to setting polices, one of which the National Gender Policy. The absence of the Male Desk is quite appalling, as well as disturbing as the rights and concerns of men presently does not have an official voice through which to advocate. The government can show its commitment to the celebration of men and boys by re-establishing the Male Desk at the Bureau of Gender Affairs which falls within the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports. There is undoubtedly a need for more research at the university level on men’s issues in order to assist the government to develop data driven gender policies which will address those specific concerns . The society also needs to create more spaces for male gender specialists given that females cannot adequately advocate on men issues.

As we pause on International Men’s Day which was revived by Jerome Teelucksingh in 1999 to celebrate our collective masculinities in our men and boys, we also need to recognize our differences as well. We all have a role to play in commemorating this very special day, whether by organizing public seminars, engaging students and youngsters, having discussion with men on the corner, organizing a sporting event in your community, having a church service, having displays or volunteering to become a mentor. The time is now for men to recommit and plead their support in the campaign to improve gender relations in the Jamaican society. It is only by the constructive engagement of the male specie that we will be able to achieve Vision 2030 by making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. Jamaica joins the global community in wishing every male Happy International Men’s Day! In the powerful words of Henri-Frederic Amiel, it is not what he has, or even what he does which expresses the worth of a man, but what he is.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


#InternationalMensDay #manhood #masculinity

Married But Less Sex: A Male Perspective

“My wife and I are deeply committed to each other but to have a happier marriage we need more sex”. Those are the words of my colleague, Chris, age 43; one might add the sentiments expressed by him are quite common in today’s society, especially among men. In almost every research done on relationship and the extent to which couples are happy, sex is usually the number one area of concern for both partners. The frequency of sex between married couples is often a private matter and as such lends itself to much debate with regards to what makes for a healthy marriage. “Sexual intercourse is dynamic and should be in a marriage” so says Andrew, Whether we admit to it or not we live in a sexualized and an instant gratification world. Sex, is one of ways in which intimacy can be expressed between couples.

Denton, age 44, who is also married, adds a different dimension. He opines that some women withhold sex in a marriage as a way of punishing the husband. According to Denton, who is also a Christian “lady withholding sex because the man didn’t meet up to her expectation, didn’t clean the car, didn’t come home early enough”. As a result of missing the deadlines a “shop lock” effect comes into play; of course this is not a game any husband is fond of. However, the “shop lock” scenario, is not gender specific, and there are some males who too use this mechanism either to punish or get back at their spouse. Undoubtedly, sex is important in having and maintaining a healthy marriage. Conversely, there are occasions where factors can and does interfere with the frequency of this most precious of God’s gift. Some of the factors which impact the frequency of sex include the work schedule of both partners. There are many instances in which couple‘s work time is so different that they are forced to schedule time for intimacy. One also has to consider whether or not the couple has children. According to Chris, the frequency of sex in a marriage is dependent on whether or not the couple has children. He is of the opinion that two to three times weekly is adequate if the couple has children. He goes to say, “If they have kids, maybe 4 times a month”.

Denton adds that in order to meet the financial responsibilities of the family, both the wife and husband go to work. This he argues inevitably sees both individuals competing against themselves on different team, which puts a strain on the relationship and marriage. We must be reminded that in a marriage there should be only one team. If there are any diversions from this one team narrative, there will be trouble in any marriage. This is never a good sign and couples which find themselves at this point must see this as a red flag and seek immediate counselling to address this.

According to Dr. Harriet Lerner, author of “Marriage Rules”, “a big problem in marriage is that one of both people start thinking something is wrong with them because they’re not having sex as much as they think they should. There is no guideline to which frequency of sex in a marriage is written. Each couple has to define their frequency of sex and intimacy based on their unique circumstances, such as the sex drive, health of the partners and or age.

Denton makes an important point when he says, “intimacy is the energy, tonic, glue of a marriage” It bears thought, how healthy can a marriage be without sex? Lee, age 48 who has been married for 16 years says sex is important in a marriage because “it cements the relationship providing a bond between both people”. When asked, how often sex happen in a marriage, Lee added, “as often as each other is able to invest in the process to get it done”. It can be argued that if couples are not careful sex then becomes a duty and not a necessary component for having a healthy marriage. For Denton, if the atmosphere is right, nightly sex is welcome.

One has to differentiate as well between Christian marriages versus non-Christian marriages. As Christians the marriage vows are usually taken more seriously. It is quite common practice for couples in a Christian marriage to think twice before calling it a day. For Christians marriages go beyond the earthly covenant. In Christendom a marriage takes on the added significance of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. It is the spiritual representation of our relationship with God. Andrew, a colleague, said “but one thing some Christian women are criticized for is not satisfying their man, either by refusing to have sex or just not wanting to do certain things. However, this may be a mindset of security where they feel safe because they have a church man. So the thought of him straying doesn’t seem to dawn on them. It also might be that they see themselves like trophies and somewhat irreplaceable”.

Andrew, who has been married for 16 years, goes on to add that married women in general dress too conservatively when their spouses are at home. “Sexual fantasies are not given enough consideration” According to him, women and men allow themselves to become unattractive with excessive weight gains. An unattractive spouse will make intimacy and sexual intercourse that more challenging and infrequent regardless of whether or not the marriage is a Christian or non-Christian one.

Unfortunately, many churches still view sex as a tabooed subject, and as a result, a lot of misinformation regarding sex, sexuality and the responsibility of spouses continue to flourish. Each marriage is unique; and as such the individuals involved in a marriage must take ownership for the successes and or failures of this covenant agreement. It takes years to fully know your partner. It can be argued that a marriage is a work in progress. In the powerful words of Martin Luther, “There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage”.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


#sex #marriage #taboo #relationship #family #church #gender #sexuality

Interrogating Jamaican Masculinity

“Black men struggle with masculinity so much. The idea that we must always be strong really presses us all down- it keeps us from growing”. –Donald Glover

Historically, the male gender has been privileged, not only in Jamaica but also on a global scale. According to Mark Figueroa, in the book, Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: Theoretical and Empirical Analyses, “The male gender has had access to a broader social space; it has had greater control over a wider range of resources and has been more able to enjoy that it has controlled”. The privileging afforded to the male gender has significantly contributed to what some may view as the unhealthy and undesirable state of masculinity in the Jamaican society. Additionally, the notions of masculinity and manhood are deeply entrenched and associated with the sexual objectification of women. It can be argued that all men at some point in their lives struggle with society’s standards regarding the unrealistic benchmark surrounding masculinity and manhood. As men, we are faced with a plethora of don’ts; from the silly, such as real men don’t cry, to real men don’t wear pink to the culturally popular and accepted saying that a real man should be involved in multiple relationships “gallist”. Defining masculinity and manhood is rather subjective and fluid. However, Linden Lewis, defines masculinity as a socially constructed set of gendered behaviours and practices of men, which are not frozen in time or culture and which are mediated by notions of race, class, ethnicity, religion, age and sexual orientation. Men rarely speak about their insecurities, it is not a manly thing to do, however, if truth be told, a significant number of men are made to feel less than by the ideals of manhood society portrays. A less than or feeling inadequate can emerge from not being able to provide for one’s family, measuring one’s phallic member to what one perceive it should be, comparing and contrasting body image. There is unending list of factors which men measure themselves against in defining and re-defining their manhood. In most societies there is a clear and distinct division as it relates to the meaning of gender and sex. Doing gender is a classic sociological concept developed by Candace West and Don Zimmerman. According to West and Zimmerman gender is not something we are not born with, and not something we have, but something we do. Sex, on the other hand relates to the biology of an individual, based primarily on the reproductive prospective of the human being. The period of adolescence if often described as a most turbulent period, one characterized by experimentation, pain, failures and success and paves the way for adulthood. Traditionally, the male was seen as the protector, warrior, and hunter within the family whose primary responsibility was to ensure the safety of the family. However, the dynamics as it to relate to gender roles and responsibilities have changed over time and continue to do so. This change has undoubtedly emasculate many men and they try to define what masculinity means in their social space. The intersection of misogyny, gender-based violence, patriarchy and cultures has impacted on the development of masculinity and manhood in all societies.

The Development of Masculinity

As human beings we imitated others. Outside of the fancy theories which are put forward to explain masculinity boys are socialized to mimic the role and traits of their fathers or men in their village, tribe and or communities in order to become a real man. The pathway was clear then and there was no need to interrogate and explain away differences in the society. However, over the years there have been many theories which have tried to explain the evolution in the development process of childhood. One of the more popular among the theories is that of Object Relations Theory. This theory posits that every infant has an initial primary attachment to its mother. It is argued that after an extended period of being merged with the mother, the infant begins to separate and takes on its own identity.

Greenson and Stoller propose that a boy, as he gradually realizes that his biological sex is different from his mother’s feels compelled to give up his attachment to her and to disindentify with her as he establishes a male identity that corresponds with his biological sex.

Another theory which speaks to identity is the Gender Differentiation Theory. Irene Fast, author of Gender Identity: A Differentiation Model, argues, that boys and girls differentiates themselves from one another as masculine and feminine in areas that correspond to societal models that may have little to do with actual biological difference. “It is the social meaning of the anatomical differences that is determinative, not the differences themselves”. It bears thought that gender is chiefly based on the performance associated with the biological sex one feels most connected to.

Indicators of Manhood

The construction of Jamaican masculinity is deeply rooted in the cultural trappings of the society which differentiate between masculine and unmasculine domains. It can be argued that the indicators of manhood are personal as much as they are diverse. Unfortunately, since there is no official Rite of Passage from boy to manhood, it is rather difficult to gauge at one point a boy becomes a man. It can be argued that this transitionary phase is rather private and gradual. The standards by which maleness and masculinity are measured have their genesis in the aggression and tough exterior by which men are socialized. An older colleague revealed that for him manhood began at age 13. This was the age he discovered masturbation and at that point realized he had become a man. Yet, another colleague informed me that being put out of the family home at 18 by his strep-dad, was that point in his life when manhood was trusted upon him. A third colleague in his 30’s laughed when asked the question and replied that he did not know. A college batch mate said he became a man at age 19 when he stopped seeking approval from his parents about some issues in his life and started sleeping out. A friend for over 12 years said, manhood hit him at age 18. He added the laws of the land designate 18 as the age when one is responsible for themselves.

A church brother, who is married and the father of 3 boys said manhood was trusted upon him at age 12. At that age he had passed the Common Entrance to high school and given the distance to school, he had to leave his parents home to live with a cousin. However, the cousin was hardly ever in Jamaica and the he assumed the daily responsibility of getting himself prepared for school. The construction of manhood and masculinity must also be viewed in terms of pluralizing the term masculinity.

Professor of Sociology, R. William Connell’s theory of multiple masculinities speaks of a hegemonic masculinity to which most men adhere, however, Connell also make reference to subordinate masculinities, which some men subscribe to. The realization that there are multiple masculinities and that this will have a profound impact on how a male come to the acceptance and realization that he is a man cannot be overstated. Among the popular indicators of Jamaican manhood especially rooted in the “street culture” are the smoking of marijuana, commonly called ganja, the consumption of alcoholic drinks and early sexual initiation. The reference point of manhood differs for every man. The involvement in sports is often another indicator of manhood which serves as a bridge from boyhood to manhood for a significant number of males. Another indicator of manhood in the society is grounded in graduating from high school. For a significant number of boys, school has been and continues to be viewed as a site of effeminacy and runs counter to the toxic brand of masculinity which is prevalent in the society. The situation of boys’ education is even worst at the primary level where it is not uncommon to have a male teacher.

Odette Parry, is of the opinion that education is decried as effeminate, a view which culminates in, an anti-academic ethos celebrated by the version of masculinity which informs classroom responses. Parry adds that education is not seen as “macho”, and a real man is therefore defined out of education and as such pursues other interests.

There are many elements one has to consider in analyzing and interrogating the construction of Jamaican masculinity. Research done in Australia by Wayne Martino found that boys are uninterested in English because of what it might say about their masculinity. This issue of gender endangerment adds yet another layer of burden to our boys whereby they are forced to give up on speaking Standard English, since “good” speech is often associated with queer masculinity, outside of the dominant version of masculinity. Academic underperformance can be viewed as one component of maleness in the Jamaican society. Mark Figueroa posits the view that there is an association between male academic underperformance and gender socialization practices which are rooted in male privileging. Boys are treated in a different manner than from girls from the beginning. In the homes, boys are expected to misbehave and given privileges to socialize with their friends outside of the home. Girls on the other hand are anticipated to stay at home and assist with chores as well as conform to the rules of the home. “The different requirements of female versus male grooming has been given as one example of how differential socialization impacts on skills learnt that are later useful in school (Sobo 1993, 156). This gendered approach to parenting and child rearing often serves as a stumbling block for many boys during the period of schooling and formal education. Disturbingly, boys who display school smarts are often ridiculed as effeminate by peers and even adults in areas where academic excellence by males is typically devalued. It is almost as if manhood and masculinity have been hijacked by a thug culture far removed from education. It is very clear that there is no one size fits all surrounding manhood.

Pornography and Masculinity

Pornography is everywhere. It is estimated that there are over 420 million adult web pages online. Excessive watching of pornography can and does contribute to a flawed sense of masculinity and manhood. A real man sees a woman for who she is. He respects her as well as her individuality. Pornography on the other hand, objectifies women, turning women into “things” which are there to satisfy a man’s sexual desires. The overindulgence of pornography, especially among young men who are still navigating their sexuality has added a distorted view of masculinity and manhood which sadly, a growing number of men fall into. According to research done by Dr. Heather Rupp, pornography solves a primal problem for men: It offers easy access to commitment-free sex with multiple partners. Research indicates that the average boy watches approximately two hours of porn weekly becoming common by age 15. In a 2014 study, Dr. Foresta found that sixteen (16%) percent of high school seniors who used online porn more than once per week reported abnormally low sex desire, while none of those who did not use it reported abnormally low sexual desire. In recent studies there has been an association between erectile dysfunction and online porn use. In general terms we are what we consume. In explaining the impact of pornography on the brain, psychologist, William M. Strutters, said, “Men seem to be wired in such a way that pornography hijacks the proper functioning of their brains and have a long-lasting effect of their thoughts and lives”. He adds that pornography acts as a polydrug. According to Struthers the male and female brain are wired differently. “A man’s brain is a sexual mosaic influenced by hormone levels in the womb and in puberty and molded by his psychological experience”.

Without a general purpose for our lives we will be swept away by the strong current of social media and alternative cultural norms and mores. As men we need to be grounded in who we are and in terms of the purpose God has for our lives and our families. Without that spiritual and intimate connection to God we too will fall short of our purpose.

Masculinity and Men’s Health

It can be argued that gender socialization regarding how men are supposed to behave and conform to masculine norms is probably one of the biggest hurdles for men not accessing health care services. Men on average die younger than women. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) 2015 survey, the life expectancy for females in Jamaica is 78.6 years compared to 73.9 years. Among the twenty causes for death listed by the same survey are prostate cancer, lung disease, breast cancer, stroke, violence, obesity, lung cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and coronary heart attack. Men are socialized and cultured to bare pain and not to seek medical attention at the beginning of a state of unwellness, to do otherwise is an attack on one’s manhood. In many instances by the time a man is no longer to manage the pain or is forced to the doctor his medical condition might be far advanced. Additionally, the cultural fear many men have about having a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) is a contributing factor to the increase incidents of prostate cancer among the male population. According to the WHO data published in May 2014, prostate cancer deaths in Jamaica reached 649 or 3.63% of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 52.12 per 100, 000 of population ranks Jamaica at number 5 in the world. It is also said that a larger percentage of men have no insurance or in fact do not use their health insurance. More men than women smoke and drink excessively and die from motor vehicle accidents. Men are less likely to go to the dentist or visit the ophthalmologist. As the male gets older his propensity to visit access medical care increases. Interestingly, as the male grows older the notions of masculine norms, gender role expectations and masculinity seems to take a back seat to wanting to survive. The health behaviours of men clearly put men more at risk for many non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) and a way must be found to chance this narrative. A renewed effort must be made to encourage men on a broader scale to access the available health care services which are available.

Conversation about the State of Masculinity in Jamaica

In spite of all that has been said it is becoming increasingly necessary to switch between competing masculinities depending on the social circumstances and cultural space one occupies. The defining indicators of manhood two decades ago are not the same in 2017. Growing into manhood in the 1980’s was clearly linked to a heighten sense of personal responsibility, juxtaposed to manhood in the 21st century, where young men wear their pants below their waist exposing their under garments. This 21st century re-construction of masculinity is accepting of young men bleaching their skin. The under-performance of boys in scholarly pursuits has been common and problematic. Another questionable indicator of manhood is the power and influence of popular culture, especially dancehall music on the construction of masculinity and manhood. It is time for us to reclaim our manhood? It was therefore refreshing to see the Back2Life Foundation rising to the occasion to stage a conversation about the state of masculinity in Jamaica, which was held on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Back2Life is a male youth transformation organization in which professional and otherwise accomplished young men complete the only accredited mentorship course in Jamaica enabling them to mentor male “youth at risk” towards productive, positive, personal and social conduct. Back2Life offers positive guidance and leadership not ordinarily available to this cadre of unattached youth. The project was launched in July of 2012 and the major project of the Rotary Club of Kingston. The project has over 50 trained mentors who have mentored over 120 boys. The Foundation’s flagship project operates at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre which houses around 50 juvenile boys. As a society the time has come for us to embrace and foster a culture of mentoring and mentorship. As the construction of family and family types turn more to one of single parent female headed households there is an urgent need for our boys to have positive male role model and influence. Interestingly, for some boys the acceptance of their manhood and masculinity is closely linked to their mother’s influence given the high absence of fathers in the house. As men we need to do better!

While the turnout of men to the Back2Life public forum was encouraging, the lack of sponsorship from corporate Jamaica for such a critical area of human development speaks volume regarding the significance of lack thereof that issues related to men are afforded. Perhaps now is a right time to enquire what has become of the Male Desk at the Bureau of Gender Affairs. We all have a stake in ensuring Jamaica becomes a better place. It is only through mentoring and mentorship by providing positive male influence that Jamaica will realize Vision 20/30 by becoming the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. It is call to action. In the powerful words of Malcolm X, a man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


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