Mon | Nov 12, 2018

Little love for the blind - Jamaicans slow to enter romantic relationships with those who can’t see

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2018 | 12:37 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Camile Wilson (right) and Robert Williams
Camile Wilson (right) and Robert Williams
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They say love is blind, but blind educator Camille Wilson finds that not many Jamaicans are willing to look beyond the fact that a person cannot see to enter an intimate relationship, and it is worse for blind women.

“It is very difficult for a blind woman to get a partner. I think it has to do with how women and men are socialised in our country. There is a lot of prejudice against blind women,” said the mother of one who went blind at three years old.

“Men usually want a woman to show off; they don’t want a woman who has a disability. It is difficult for women,” lamented Wilson during an interview with Jamaica Society for the Blind volunteer, Dr Anne-Maria Bankay.

She finds, too, that men oftentimes want a woman who can cook, wash and clean, but they do not know that blind women are generally very good at doing domestic chores.

LIKE TO BE NEEDED

Not all men discriminate against blind women, however, as she finds that some do like the feeling of being needed, or as she puts, they like to “feel like a hero or a superman”. Others are just simply smitten once they take the time to really get to know a blind woman.

“A man may come into your life, into your space for another reason, not a relationship, but the blind woman’s personality attracts him and he then solicits a relationship. Once he stays and commits, he will usually never leave,” she asserted.

But even as she lamented the general attitude of Jamaican men to blind women, Wilson admitted that she, too, would rather a partner who is not blind.

“I would love to have a spouse who has a car and can drive me around; someone who can read for me and reduce the need for so many volunteers,” declared Wilson as she sought to justify her preference.

Self-professed ‘party animal’ Robert Williams doesn’t have much of a challenge charming the ladies, but he admits that winning a woman’s heart is a difficult feat for a blind man.

“When I go to a party, cane in hand, the more assertive women will take the initiative and come and dance with me. If my cane is not visible, say I have put it away, the reserved women will come and dance, but once they become aware of my blindness, they disappear,” said Williams.

“If my sighted male friends observe discrimination towards me, they will facilitate dancing partners for me. They will suggest to a sighted woman that she dance with me and tell her, ‘This is my general, this is my doops, dash out a whine pon him nuh’,” added Wilson.

He argued that even after winning a woman’s heart, a blind man usually faces a challenge to win over her parents who would have, most likely, taught her that she should find a man who can take care of her.

“Society teaches our females that men are to provide for them, support them and protect them, but there is a misconception that a blind man will not be able to do these things,” said the 29-year-old university graduate and entrepreneur.

“However, men are socialised to be more assertive and persistent in pursuing a woman, and that applies to blind men as well, but blind men have to make more of an effort to ‘charm’ a woman, and break down her defences. You have to show her your masculine or ‘macho’ side,” said Williams.

– Volunteer with the Jamaica Society for the Blind, Dr AnneMaria Bankay, contributed to this story.