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Stabroek News

Women, take control!
published: Sunday | April 2, 2006


- FILE
Children, women and men all dress in white for the Million Woman march on Emancipation Day, August 1, last year from National Stadium car park to the National Heroes Park calling all Jamaican Women "Clean up your Home" Let us clean up our country.

Valerie Dixon, Contributor

CONGRATULATIONS TO our new Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller. Unfortunately, many of the women to whom this article is intended either cannot read it, or could not care less about its content and therein lies much of Jamaica's problems.

Many of us reverted to the plantation way of life about 30 years ago and we are now reaping the bountiful harvest from those seeds that were sown back then.

A song was released in the mid-1970s quoting the government of the day 'nuh bastard nuh dey again, everyone lawful,' and we are still paying for that folly.

A lot of women took this statement to mean that every man was fair game. It did not matter whether he was married, single, black, brown or white. As long as he looked like he was rich enough, or had a job and could pay maintenance money, then with or without his permission he was going to be the father of their children. They were making certain that these children could inherit what these men possessed, and they were making certain that they 'collected'.

The death knell of the nuclear family was sounded. Marriage was no longer a necessity for many of these women.

Many of these children are now the maladjusted men and women of Jamaica, who have no idea what it means to have a mother and a father living under the same roof. Is it sheer coincidence that 30 years later, we are now described as the murder-capital of the world? Is it sheer coincidence that promiscuity stalks the land and is unofficially accepted as part of our 'kulcha'?

PLANTATION LIFE

We have gone back to living on the plantation where promiscuity was encouraged by the slave owners. Why?

Black people were not thought of as human beings, so they were encouraged to breed like farm animals, as often as possible, in order to supply the plantation owner with free labour.

The more free labour he had, the more wealth he could produce for himself and his nuclear family. This system also suited the slaves, because they were guaranteed three meals a day and one suit per year and exercise to keep them fit and strong, by planting and harvesting sugar cane.

Plantation life must have been idyllic. Then along came some white men who had to spoil everything. They called themselves abolitionists. They thought that this life of freeness was wrong and immoral, so men like William Wilberforce and Thomas Buxton had the nerve to fight and set the slaves free.

MEASURING POPULARITY

It is my belief that many black people are still vexed with these emancipators. This is evidenced by what Kevin Chang had to say in his Gleaner column 'Wasting my time'.

He said that the results of a poll showed that 49 per cent of Jamaicans think that Michael Manley is the best Prime Minister Jamaica has ever had, although during Manley's tenure (1972-1980), Jamaica's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) fell by one third.

On the other hand, under Hugh Shearer's watch (1967-1972), the GDP rose by over one third, yet only three per cent of those polled said he was a good prime minister. Mr. Chang now concludes that the leader who impoverished his country is 16 times more popular than the one who enriched it. Manley was about crash-programme work, handouts and freeness, whereby people who did not 'lift straw' would be on a payroll to receive a wage every fortnight.

Shearer, on the other hand, was about production and providing real jobs. But who cares about GDP when you can get three meals a day for free, not to mention contracts, perks, and a whole heap of blighs?

What the majority of Jamaicans fail to understand is that they are the only ones not getting anything for free.

Every time they get their wages, a big chunk comes out in the form of taxes. These taxes pay the interest rates that the rich people, at home and abroad, earn on their big money that they lent to Omar Davies, Minister of Finance. The general consumption tax pays for the perks and high living.

BEATING THE SYSTEM

The poor, however, have found a way to beat the system and whip the society all at the same time. They are 'breeding-up' like it is going out of style.

I was chatting with a friend of mine who is a gynaecologist and I asked her what happened to the family planning programme that was initiated by Beth Jacobs. Her reply was: "You can't mention those two words to these women, especially those from the lower classes (now called the 'bowels of the working class') anymore. They say that they have to obey the Bible and be fruitful and multiply."

These women are behaving just as if they were still on the plantation, hoping to find favour with Backra Massa, by giving him a whole heap of free labour (read minimum-wage labour).

So the Government is the new Backra Massa with its welfare programme called PATH. These women receive $1,060 for each child every other month. A woman, with 10 children and no fathers, receives $10,600 every two months. (I hope that the present-day William Wilberforce and Thomas Buxton are not planning to spoil things.)

I am at a loss to tell these women that they need to take control of their bodies.

On the one hand, they have to live but on the other hand, these fatherless children whom they cannot control, are wreaking havoc on the society.

I know for a fact that at a certain school in Manchester, 65 boys from grade nine who can neither read nor write at that level will be 'graduating'.

They are the ones who present the most disciplinary problems and disruptive behaviour. When they become adults, they are going to want everything that they think garners respect in the society. Can they get the SUVs, mansions, designer clothes and bling on minimum wage? Yet, don't we all know how they can get this lifestyle?

But according to the mothers, all these children have been brought into the world because they are obeying the word of God.

So, how is it that when they obey God and have these children, God rewards them with poverty, and most times, fatherless children who have a tendency to turn to crime? (I am not talking about exceptional women who have fatherless children who all become, doctors, lawyers and engineers).

How is it that God punishes the women who disobey the word of God and have two children or less with prosperity and a good life for her family? (I am not talking about the exceptional women who have children with fathers who love and care for them and who turn out to be drug addicts, pimps and other types of criminals).

RHYTHM METHOD

If the Church feels it must interfere in the sex lives of its members, and insists that birth control is sinful, then it should teach the women the natural 'rhythm method', so that the women know which time of a month they are fertile and which time they are incapable of becoming pregnant. (I believe the Pope sanctions this method.) Otherwise, stay out of people's bedrooms.

Madam Prime Minister, you have a hard row to hoe. We Jamaicans behave like drug addicts. We have become addicted to a lifestyle that we cannot afford. Yet, like the drug addict, we are unable to give up this lifestyle. So we borrow, beg and steal to maintain and support our 'high' living. We want instant gratification ­ we want what we want and we want it now.

We want it without hard work, so like the drug addict, we sell out our beauty spots, our land and our grandchildren's birthright, especially to foreigners who don't love us or care about us. Madam Prime Minister, can you rehabilitate us?

Ladies, the withdrawal (from this unaffordable lifestyle) is not going to be easy. But if there is going to be any sweetness in our lives, and hope for Jamaica, we must take control of ourselves and have only the number of children that we can afford to love, nurture and care for and raise as responsible and useful citizens of this our beautiful island home.

Valerie Dixon is a Manchester-based educator. Emails may be sent to valeriecdixon@hotmail.com

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