Sun | May 24, 2020

Mark Wignall | Sex and relationships terribly misunderstood

Published:Sunday | September 29, 2019 | 12:00 AM

If there is one freedom that the rich, the middle class, and the poor enjoy equally, it is sex. But sometimes it seems as if the fates have made it out too crude and comedic in the general sense of humour that governs sex.

In my close to 70 years on this planet, I have observed that the more some select upper-class people have sex, the fewer children they have. The opposite is also the case. But with negatives attached.

A poor man walks by his woman while it’s raining heavy outside and multiple parts of the roof are leaking. As she goes by him, they touch for the moment. Nine months later, she is pregnant.

The rich man takes his wife on a European vacation, and they stay in the most fancy hotels. It really doesn’t matter that the husband has multiple sex partners outside of the marriage back home in Jamaica. That’s for another time.

While he is there, they indulge to the utmost.

Nine months later, no one is pregnant. Whether it is God who decides how many times per week man and woman should meet up in moments of copulation, or it is simply that we cannot avoid each other while we are in love, no one really knows what keeps us together intimately and what pulls us apart and makes us hate each other. At times.

That said, in Jamaica, we do not have any laws governing which adult should have consensual sex with another adult and under what circumstances. What we do know is that we are no fans of marriage.

In the 1970s when my wife-to-be, Ann, and I were ‘living in sin’, that is, living in the same house and enjoying each other to the max, at some stage, we decided to get married. I was an odd sort of a character and was never a fan of marriage even though I was a live witness to the happy, loving, and often hilarious marriage of my mother and father.

Ann came to me one day and said, “We need to get married in the church. You know I am Catholic, so I am going to meet the priest and have a talk with him.”

I was prepared to go along with everything she presented. A week later, she said, “Father … would like to meet with you and have a talk with you.”

I loved the woman so much and would jump over a cliff for her just as long as I had a guarantee that I would survive the jump and have her in my life at the end. “Ann, I am not getting married to the priest. I have no need to meet with him.”

We eventually arrived at a compromise, got our marriage licence, and in a few weeks, we said vows in front of a marriage officer on Church Street. Having lived together for three years, I said to her, “Damn. We just got married and I feel no different. She playfully slapped me across one side of my face.”

Our bodies belong to us, not government

At one stage during the Values and Attitudes campaign which was briefly in vogue during the 1990s under the P.J. Patterson government, one arm of that outreach made an attempt to create something coming quite close to a moral police force.

Thankfully, that did not last long as some thought that it was simply upper-class politicians and the socially privileged trying to expropriate all of the fun of immorality (sex) without enduring any of the collective attacks of conscience. To the poor would go the blame. They would be the ones to see sin in sex and develop the need to feel guilty about it.

At one stage during my marriage, I said to my wife, “If you and I had some problem in bed, would you go and confess to Father … in your Catholic Church?”

“Of course not!” she said.

“So are we having any problems?” That time it was a real slap.

In Indonesia, a wave of utter madness has descended on that country. A proposed criminal code wanted to criminalise sex before marriage. The law wanted to lock up people for six months if they had sex outside of marriage. Abortion would carry a four-year prison term.

Think carefully of that, and it will totally convince you that we are fortunate in Jamaica. Another part of the proposed code in Indonesia included fines for insulting the president, religion, state institutions, the flag, and the national anthem.

Mass protests have broken out. At the heart of all humanity is sex. It brought us here, and, subsequently, it even gives us the right to outlaw sex. Just as long as it is ‘those people over there’ and not us who have the power.

The trade in children

Many years ago, a few friends of mine used to visit a risqué nightclub on Maxfield Avenue. At nights, the club was packed with well-known senior policemen, a few lower-level politicians, many businessmen, and crazy people like me.

What drew us to the place was the semi-nude dancing of the girls. I was in my 30s (or was it 40s?). What we did not know was that some serious human trafficking was taking place. Many of the girls dancing there were borderline underage.

Plus, the night the club was raided and locked down (I was there), it turned out that the lady who was using these girls got them from the rural areas, where the girls had either run away from their homes and wandered into nearby urban settings or deals had been made with evil parents.

The selling point of the club was, of course, sex, the ultimate drug in life and a key ingredient in sales and marketing.

Recent reports that women have been using children to go on the road, beg for them, and do the whole routine as a mode of employment is, to me, nothing new. For many years, there have been men from certain inner-city communities who have been using preteens to carry out robberies.

The idea is, the boys appear innocent and they can be used to lure people to lead them to dangerous situations. One man I know had a group of three boys who he used to squeeze themselves through burglar bars after car jacks had been applied to pull the bars apart.

In one case I knew of in the early 1980s, a man used a young boy of 10 to squeeze himself through a window and bars on the roof of a wholesale in downtown Kingston. Unknown to the man and the child, the businessman had electrified the inner section just below the roof entrance.

As the youngster entered, he was immediately electrocuted. The man simply ran away. The last time I saw him, about three years ago, he was in a wheelchair with no wheels, living in cardboard, and close to flying off on the wings of death.

Some of the boys wiping windshields do it on their own. But there are some who do it on behalf of so-called dons in a few inner-city pockets. These boys do it as training in their routes to becoming desperadoes and gunmen.

As long as they are at the lights and the intersections, they are quite aggressive because they must carry back to base a certain amount of cash. These boys know that one day, not long after they have grown up, they, too, will have a chance to corral other young boys and enslave them into criminality.


- Mark Wignall is a public-affairs and political commentator. Email feedback to and