Eligible men, a dying breed?
The Editor, Sir:
Professor Carolyn Cooper's article 'Where are the eligible men?' in The Sunday Gleaner (October 10), offers an interesting com-mentary on the important subject of the marginalisation of the Jamaican male.
Her point about the "absence" of eligible men, on the notable University of the West Indies (UWI) campus, who "can both speak English and wine" clearly points not only to the negative effects of the continued marginalisation of the Jamaican male on male-female relationships, but on all areas of national life, which should be an issue of serious concern to all Jamaicans, given the continued social declines within the nation as a result of the declining influence of responsible males.
In light of the continued marginalisation of the Jamaican male, Cooper's assertion that eligible men are a dying breed, therefore, should not be treated as a misguided assumption; it is an important reality that should be taken seriously in light of recent studies on the problem of the marginalisation of the Caribbean male by such reputable scholars as former UWI Professor Errol Miller.
Miller, who published his findings in 1991 on the question of male marginalisation, in his classic, Men at Risk, paints quite a dismal picture regarding the survival of male dominance, not only in the Caribbean context but globally. In his prediction of continued decline and subsequent demise of male patriarchy, Miller has argued that the pattern of men's marginalisation, noted first among black men in the New World, can be expected to spread to all other subordinated groups in all countries, irrespective of ethnic background; and what has come to be regarded as social pathologies among black men will continue to become the common experience of men of all groups challenging power.
Among the pathologies, he noted, and which could be considered endemic in the Jamaican context, are the following:
Self-destruction through substance abuse, suicide and reckless risk taking in countless areas of social intercourse: on the roads, in stunts, in crime.
A breakdown of civil society, particularly in the family;
Increasing social and community chaos;
The general move away from traditional values.
In light of the magnitude of these changes affecting traditional societies, Miller has argued that the death of patriarchy is all but certain, as the fundamental factors driving change cannot be reversed and, even if they could, it would not be desirable. But, while some, like Miller, consider turning back the clock on dying male dominance as a futile and undesirable proposition, Cooper challenges us to do everything in our power to "save the species not just for pleasure". I believe it is a challenge that every well-thinking Jamaican should accept.
I am, etc.,
Rev NEWTON GABBIDON