Jamaica Gleaner Online TODAY'S ISSUE
July 26, 1999

Unclothing sex

Hartley Neita

ATTITUDES TOWARDS sex have swung from one end of the pendulum to the other over the years.

Just 50 years ago, the subject was never discussed in public. It was regarded as personal and private, and only between consenting adults. Children were told, for example, that babies were delivered to their mothers by a bird called a stork which, like Santa Claus, was never seen.

At that time, too, sex was full of contradictions. Children were told not to have sex before marriage. Yet some half the children born of parents who gave this advice were born outside of marriage.

Children also grew up with the fear of venereal diseases. Crab lice were the least of these afflictions. For some, though, it was a matter of pride to be afflicted with "clap", and so it was a boast of manhood to tell friends that they have been cured with an injection at the VD clinic on Highholborn Street in Kingston.

Yet, there were others who would have been mortified if they were seen walking in the vicinity of the clinic.


Movies, up to then, never showed a couple in bed together. The very wealthy had separate rooms, and those of limited means slept in separate beds set apart in the same bedroom, the romantic tease then was probably:

"Your bed or mine, darling?"

Among teenagers, sex was mostly talk. And lies. Young men boasted about conquests, which never happened, and young girls became tainted as "bad girls" because they "put out". The word condom was not known then. It had a long name prophylactic which was popularly called "rubbers". Young men always had one in their wallets. Many stayed so long in the wallet that they became yellow with age...and useless.

Buying a rubber was "a trip". They were sold in the drug stores, as pharmacies were then called. They were not displayed, as now, on the shelves, but hidden from public view. So when young men went to the counter and saw other people waiting, especially women, they hung around discretely until they caught the druggist's eye. a signal would pass between them and shortly after the druggist would signal to them and hand over a paper bag with a pack.


Two things removed sex from the bedroom into wide-open space. One was Playboy magazine, which unclothed the mystique of woman, making her the girl who lived next door that young men would love to have as a neighbour. And like the prophylactics, no young man wanted to be seen by a woman buying Playboy magazine. The other was the movies. I remember gasping the first time I saw an actress nude in bed with a man. I had taken a new date to the Carib and had just nerved myself to hold her hand when the scene appeared. I was so shocked I released her hand, fearing she might think I had a similar motive.

It was "not the done thing!"

(Taken from the Sunday Gleaner)

  • Letters to the Editor
  • webadmn@jamaica-gleaner.com
  • Copyright © The Gleaner Co. Ltd.

  • Produced by Go Jamaica