Sun | Aug 20, 2017

As a man | No humour in humiliating boys

Published:Sunday | September 25, 2016 | 9:00 AMMelville Cooke

A few years ago, I was walking from the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) to The Gleaner Company when, at the corner of North and Orange streets, I saw a boy being verbally brutalised by a woman.

It has stayed with me for a long time. I have told, at most, two persons about it previously.

The woman was sending the boy, who was wearing only a red brief, somewhere down Orange Street. He was reluctant, and bawling loudly, taking hesitant steps in the direction he was being forced to go and looking back at the woman who was bawling at him in a different way. She screamed at him to go where he was being sent, asking repeatedly if he was a homosexual (she used the Jamaican term).

The interaction must have included something about transportation, because she shouted at him, "Bout taxi? Yuh puppa dead lef' taxi gi yu?"

I did not stick around to see the outcome - although the boy, who seemed about five or six years old - did not seem to have a choice in going where he was being sent. I walked on and an overwhelming sadness enveloped me. I felt heavy, and every time I remember that incident, I feel the same way.

 

EMOTIONAL SCAR

 

That boy, growing up with the kind of public abuse I saw in that short interaction, will carry the trauma with him for the rest of his life. If it is continuously inflicted by women, then he will likely grow up to be a misogynist, disliking women even if he has sexual relationships with them.

There are many men like that in our society, and I wonder at times if that little boy, bawling at the corner of North and Orange streets in downtown Kingston, is representative of a pattern of Jamaican males who have felt the sharp edges of women's tongues in childhood. They then grow up with deep-seated resentment, humiliation and shame, which affects their relationships with women.

With numerous female teachers in the education system at the basic and primary levels, as well as women often responsible for the daily care of children, chances are a boy will be exposed to female authority figures inside and outside the home. How they treat him will have a lot to do with how he sees and treats women.

Abuse of young Jamaican men by women is not a popular topic. With the consistent lauding of 'Mama' in popular songs, along with the persistent tale of the single mother, it should be all light, love and happiness between female authority figures and boys. But this is not so.

In the counselling which often precedes the formalisation of a male-female relationship through marriage, this ought to be something which is explored. The man needs to be asked what his relationship with female authority figures (including his mother) was like as a child. Also, any woman getting involved with a man would do well to ask and not take it for granted that it was all well.

That boy I saw bawling at the corner of North and Orange streets will grow up and get involved with a woman. So will other boys who have faced similar abuse.

melville.cooke@gleanerjm.com