Wed | May 22, 2019

Let's reason | Collective trauma and the loss of the woman's voice - Part I

Published:Tuesday | February 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Had you ever noticed that almost any man you encounter in Jamaican society has a strong and well-defined voice? I don't mean vocal depth. I mean identification of who he is and why he is worthy of being here. Sadly, I don't often find this in our women. While I don't mind a good debate, my experiences and observations have informed my perspective, so please feel free to disagree.

The nation is experiencing a collective trauma by which we have birthed two genders of people but have acknowledged and empowered only one. Men hold a certain entitlement no matter what station or opportunities have befallen them. By virtue of being born male, an overwhelming sense of value has been thrust upon them that seems to reinforce their belief that they are inherently worthy - of respect, of love, of owning another, while women by nature of being born female have been handed a big bowl of oppression soup.

Women in our culture are taught (practically force-fed) images and conversations that underscore that to be a woman means to be less than a man. Over time, our society has become a space where the majority of women feel traumatised and disempowered and believe change is far beyond their control.

The trauma is twofold: women are treated less than equally, and we watch stories of rapes, sexual abuse, beatings, and murders, while being told indirectly that that's a woman's lot if she hadn't cheated, or if she hadn't talked to him a certain way. We are emotionally beaten into submission. As women, we bear the burden of parenting and excuse the father's lack of a role because 'men will be men'.

The truth is, women, while more nurturing, didn't secretly get the parenting manual when the child was born. There were no sacred deliveries of childrearing commandments in the middle of the night. As women have to learn to care for our children, men can also learn and do a great job. But sadly, as a nation, the majority of men are not ready or willing. One reason I have encountered is that the majority of men have had their manhood defined by the lack of caring for their children and women instead of by how well they do. While the few who are inclined are considered 'sissies' and 'maama men."

Many have claimed culture as an excuse for not using our brains or our conscience. While men are not completely to be blamed, we each have a brain with our own abilities to think. We know it's not right that the burden of children falls squarely on the women's shoulders, especially seeing that procreation didn't. But women are also to blame.

- Dr Susaye Rattigan is a clinical psychologist and life and business coach. She is currently practising at Health + Wellness, Sagicor Montego Bay Shopping centre in St James. She specialises in women's health issues and empowerment with a focus on success and empowerment strategies. She can be reached at