Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Garth Rattray | Jamaica's 'ice pricks'

Published:Monday | July 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM

The TVJ Sunday evening news anchor read a story about a homicide in Nineteen Miles, Clarendon. He said, "Lydia Beacon used an ice prick to stab Thompson ... ."

It was a very sad story; indeed, we have quite a few murders occurring because of domestic disputes. The Jamaica Constabulary Force and Ministry of National Security are both trying hard to reduce our murder rate. The Community Safety and Security Branch is working overtime to bring about peace and security across the island.

I thought that perhaps the news anchor misread the teleprompter, but I noticed the same story in the electronic media and, indeed, it read "ice prick". The article read: "... Thompson was at the bar, which is owned and operated by his sister-in-law, when he ordered a drink. He, however, became angry because he was not attended to immediately, resulting in him using his hands to hit her in the head and side.

"The sister-in-law, Lydia Beacon, reportedly used an ice prick to stab Thompson in his left side after he did not yield to her warnings to stop hitting her. He reportedly ran outside and drove off in his car, but crashed a few metres along the roadway. Thompson was taken to the May Pen Hospital where he was pronounced dead."

It is for the courts to decide whether or not this is a case of homicide/self-defence or murder or manslaughter or whatever. But out of this came a very interesting finding.

There is no instrument called an ice prick; it is an ice pick. But, I looked it up anyway and found this Urban Dictionary definition for 'ice prick'.

"A guy who is emotionally cold about whom he has sex with. Might not even recall their names."

This is an apt description of an indeterminate number of Jamaican men. Many have been socialised into believing that a 'real man' conquers as many women as possible in order to establish his masculinity. This is what produces ice pricks. And even the word 'prick' used here has multiple meanings.

I recall a patient who had been experiencing serious marital problems. She also had severe back pain. In spite of their differences, she and her husband still lived together and shared the same bed. I called her to find out how her pain was doing, and her response made me think.

I asked, "How is your pain now?" She said, "It's much better, but when I turn in the bed at nights, I feel a little prick in my back." That had a triple meaning. I wondered if she meant a minor but sharp pain in her back, or a little penis touching her back, or the presence of her unwelcome spouse at her back.

As a scientist, I needed accuracy, so I asked her to clarify. My request was greeted with peals of laughter. In the end, she explained that she was only feeling a little pain in her back at nights.

Misguided, insensitive and irresponsible attitudes towards sexual intercourse lead to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, that lead further to children growing up in unhealthy social environments that spawn a vicious cycle of fatherless children who are at extremely high risk for criminality.

In the long run, we all pay for the actions of ice pricks. Therefore, ice pricks are not only cold and irresponsible men who are extremely promiscuous, they are also 'stupid/contemptible men' (which is another definition of a prick).

Ice pricks are just as dangerous as ice picks. We must use print and electronic media, the social media, popular music, times allotted for government broadcasts, medical clinics, billboards, community meetings and whatever we can to counteract the ice prick culture.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and