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As a man: Family Facade or function?

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 2:00 AMMel Cooke
Andrew Holness, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party greets his wife, Juliet.

As the 2016 general election campaign surged to a climax a few days ago, for As a Man one of the most striking things to be presented on the political platform was Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness' presentation of family unity at Half-Way Tree last Sunday.

It does not hurt that Holness' wife, Juliet, is also a candidate for the party. So when he called her to the podium and they hugged, it was a show not only of family bond, but party unity. Green upon green, if you will.

For good measure, their mothers were also presented to the crowd.

I got to thinking about how important family is to a leader. It's hard for me to think of United States President Barack Obama without his wife Michelle, and to a lesser extent, their two daughters. There was also a time in Jamaican politics when then JLP leader Edward Seaga, fathering a child with his much younger wife, Carla, was openly pitted against People's National Party (PNP) leader P.J. Patterson for not being married.

It is not only in politics that it is important for a leader to have what appears to be a stable family. Think about the corporate appointments that are advertised in the newspapers regularly - when a man pops up in the picture all smiling in his power suit, it is almost a sure bet that the last line will be about his wife and two children.

The assumption is that this person is stable and has a deep, meaningful connection with something outside of his job. The feeling is that a man who can run a 'yard' is more likely to be able to run a country or organisation.

It makes for pretty pictures and 'aww' public occasions, but with this thinking, it is highly possible to manipulate the system - creating the image of a functioning family because it is good for the resume. If family is key to the promotion, then, of course, give them family. This matter of partner for promotion creates a whole new category of business marriages.

 

A SERIOUS MATTER

 

When a man decides to get involved with the matter of creating and staying with a family of his own, it is a very serious matter. To deliberately present a faaade is a terrible lie. But I suspect that if that is what is perceived as being critical to advancement, then it will be done.

From another perspective, if a man is married and things are going horrible, but presenting the faaade of a functioning family is a linchpin in the corporate or political career, then why not maintain the illusion for the public and collect the cash?

It splits more than one way, for the woman must collect too.

However, it results in a lot of unhappiness all around, but for none more so than the children who are so vital to this faaade, who smile publicly but suffers the disinterest and acrimony in what is presented publicly as a happy home.

It's a pity.

melville.cooke@gleanerjm.com