Mon | Nov 20, 2017

George Davis | Compliments and complaints

Published:Tuesday | November 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM

In light of abominable claims about sexual assault, sexual harassment and what I'd like to call sexual subjugation made against the Hollywood super producer Harvey Weinstein, I have been given cause to wonder how many of the most influential and powerful men in Jamaican society could be facing similar or related claims from the women they've worked with in the past.

Recent allegations that the Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey sexually assaulted males as young as 14 years old over his career in theatre and film has also caused me to wonder how many of our powerful men could be the Spacey in tales told by young, impressionable and sometimes desperate young men hoping for a breakthrough in a particular field. I suspect that the troubles facing the likes of Weinstein, Spacey and now former United Kingdom Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon are enough to cause some of Jamaica's most influential and powerful men to sit uncomfortably, given their many misdeeds.

 

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

 

As new allegations about some other prominent or even famous man emerge each day, I wonder how the rules of even commenting on a woman's shape and appearance may have to be rewritten, especially in the workplace. I say this because among the claims of rape and attempted sodomy that have been reported, there have also been accusations by women that men made unwanted remarks towards them. The complaint is that men see women in public and make comments that are uninvited, leaving the women feeling victimised. These comments are not what this society would call rude or even lewd. The situation leaves me to wonder whether some people are using the cover of what are serious allegations of sexual assault, rape and sexual misconduct to make a crime of basic human interaction between men and women.

I recall the lyrics of a song done by the great Professor Nuts in the 1990s and wonder about the kind of reaction it would provoke in a woman from somewhere in Europe or North America, far removed from the culture of Jamaica and the Caribbean. 'Nuts' sings about seeing a lady walking with a bag in hand on the beach in Clarendon and being struck by her sexiness and beauty. He sidles up to her and after saying her husband was foolish to allow such a pedigreed woman to be walking alone, says:

"Baby you need a Romeo like me

Fi dust yuh dung and put yuh pon mi

dresser like a figurine

Toddeh big Sunday yuh should ah all

dung a sea

A moggle inna French cut under

almond tree."

Now, based on the harassment complaints made by some women in recent times, I can imagine Nuts being attacked for wanting to touch the woman, invite her to cheat on her husband and for wanting to see her in panties. In many places, such words would be deemed crass, vulgar and represent unwanted and uninvited remarks. I suspect that here in Jamaica, a woman in a good mood would smile and go on her merry way. Otherwise, she would hiss her teeth, give the man a blank stare and move on.

 

GUYANESE ENCOUNTER

 

Five years ago, I met a young, black woman at a conference in Washington, DC. I remarked how well she looked in her grey skirt suit, noting that she must have been a major distraction for the men in her office. She had been in the USA for seven years after leaving Guyana to attend college. She beamed at me, saying it was years since a man had paid her any compliments about her appearance. She said it was refreshing that someone had noticed her and that she often feels invisible in and out of office, because no matter how pretty she thinks she looks when leaving home, no one ever says anything to her on the road or at work. She said that before me, the last time she got comments about her appearance was at home in Guyana.

Based on what I've read in recent days, there are apparently many women who would not take as kindly to those comments, and would probably report me for making unwanted and inappropriate remarks. So, what must I do in the future? Selah.

- George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and george.s.davis@hotmail.com.