Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Letter of the Day | Why was there no women’s march in Jamaica?

Published:Wednesday | January 25, 2017 | 1:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, it was reported that more than three million women took to the streets worldwide in a massive outcry. Women from all over the world took to the streets peacefully with placards to express their intolerance for institutional hegemony.

I noted with keen observation the absence of any such march in Jamaica or the Caribbean, although in recent times there has been heightened disrespect and murder committed against our women.

The most disrespected in Jamaica are women. The most marginalised in Jamaica are the women. There is an unbearable amount of shame brought upon women in Jamaica and Caribbean societies, especially to the black women. How then were the women of Jamaica demonstrably invisible as the marches took place around the world?

I hope the absence of Jamaican women joining in solidarity in the streets, towns and cities is not an indication of comfort, or even worse, they are shamed into silence by the current treatment by men and the patriarchal institutions.

We continue to see where they are given the roles in society that require them to do the most work with the least reward. Without the women, we would all be dead. Yet, women are pressured and shamefully programmed into inferiority as accepted behaviour and are held to a different standard than their male counterparts.

Girls continue to be suspended or expelled from school for engaging in sexual activity if they become pregnant, while the boys with whom they engaged are allowed to continue their studies, although they were equal participants in the reproductive process.

 

LOCKER-ROOM CULTURE

 

Women should come together and renounce the locker-room culture where boys are initiated into liking the way women make them feel, without the need to love and care for the complete woman. The demeaning, quasi-colonial, patriarchal teachings absorbed through music, schools and the Church fuel the machismo entitlement behaviour that stagnates society.

To send a clear message, it is not enough to discuss on social media or attend a women's-empowerment conference. The women of Jamaica must find their greatest powers among themselves to organise civil disobedience against the uneasiness of toxic masculinity because power concedes nothing; it must be taken.

I do hope I will raise my daughter in a society where institutions, including the media, the clergy, the schools, medical institutions, the Government and legislative bodies ensure that women are well protected, cared for, and given fair access to the same opportunities as the men.

It is a disservice to all of society when women are not defended, protected and meritoriously rewarded when they play such an important role in the development of Jamaica and the Caribbean.

DONOVAN WATKIS

Author, Teacher

jrwatkis@gmail.com