Michael Abrahams | Man shortage
After many years of entertaining conversations on the topic of relationships with my female friends and patients, I have come to the realisation that Jamaica has a serious man shortage. To be more specific, a good, eligible and available man shortage. Men are around, but suitable males for long-term and stable relationships appear to be in short supply, and it is frustrating our women
Finding a man who satisfies the basic criteria of being single, straight, intelligent, educated and employed appears to be a mammoth task for many women, who would probably have more success finding a needle in 10 haystacks. The pool containing these men is shallow and continues to evaporate as we speak.
To desire a single partner goes without saying. Most women do not want to be competing with another woman, or other women, for a man’s attention and affection. As for being straight, that is a given. It helps having someone who is sexually attracted to you, and not using you to ‘profile’. Having an intelligent partner helps, too, not just one who is intelligent in the conventional sense, but one who is empowered with emotional intelligence, and is in touch not only with his emotions, but also with his partner’s.
Women need security, and being in a relationship with someone who is educated and employed helps to provide that. A woman wants to know that if she falls, her spouse can catch and support her.
Some women, like some men, are miserable and demanding and can be a challenge to coexist peacefully with. But there are many gems who remain lonely, despite longing for companionship.
The fact that men have been marginalised, or have marginalised themselves, has created this void. Regarding education, it is the females in our society who take this pathway more seriously. For example, the first class of medical students at the University of the West Indies, in 1948, contained a small minority of women. A senior colleague of mine, who attended in the 1960s, told me that his class had 40 males and only six females. When I attended in the 1980s, it was roughly evenly divided. Today, women outnumber men by a ratio of 2:1, not only in the Faculty of Medicine, but overall on campus.
It is important in relationships for people not to be unequally yoked. This expression is often used by religious folk, but unequal yoking can refer to factors other than religious belief and commitment, including, but not limited to, intelligence, education, values and goals. So, for an intelligent and educated woman, finding an available man on par with her, intellectually, can be a challenge.
Men are also outnumbered in churches. Women are more likely to be religious than men, and men are more likely than women to leave religion. When you consider these facts, the dilemma that Christian women face becomes painfully apparent. The above-mentioned issue of unequal yoking is of great importance here, as major differences in religious belief can be a formidable barrier to a harmonious relationship. Most Christians are unwilling to couple with non-Christians, and for some, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, going outside their denomination is not even an option.
So, our church pews are occupied by many lonely women. The religion of Christianity frowns on sexual activity outside of marriage, so, unlike some secular women who have no issue with satisfying their sexual urges outside of committed relationships, many Christian women are living with voids that they long to fill, or they ‘hide and lick’, hoping that pastor does not find out (if he is not the one doing the ‘licking’) or that they do not get outed by pregnancy. Some women have just given up and moved on, immersing themselves in church activities and focusing on ‘the Lord’.
As a result of the shortage of eligible men, many women, in order to satisfy their need for intimacy and companionship, are willing to share. Some others, out of frustration, settle for less than they deserve, ending up in abusive, dysfunctional and loveless relationships.
The competition out there is real. Throughout the animal kingdom, it is usually the male of the species who is more flamboyant, and tries to visually attract a mate. The peafowl is an excellent example of this, where the male of the species, the peacock, displays his plumage to attract females. Humans have evolved in the other direction, and it is the women who invest in accessories and cosmetic surgery in order to make themselves more appealing. The false hair, makeup, push-up and padded underwear industries are making a killing, and plastic surgeons have their hands full with women intent on transforming themselves.
If this crisis is to be abated, we have to pay attention to our boys. We must raise them to be responsible and respectful, and stress the importance of obtaining a solid education, setting realistic and worthwhile goals, and pursuing them.