Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Men, be aware

Published:Sunday | November 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Ronald Mason, Contributor

The cycles with which Jamaica grapples are now in the slot where men are in the cross hairs. The Jamaican male is often portrayed in a negative light - and deservedly so. There is, however, a trend of thought that where we seek to make changes to culture or law, there should at least be a notion of gender neutrality. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case in Jamaica.

The issue of the potential for marital rape occupied a committee of Parliament in recent days. My best information is that the discussion was centred on the allegation that a woman's 'no' is absolute, whether she is the bride, mistress or the proverbial one-night stand. There was no recognition of the implication of the state-sanctioned marital contract.

In fact, a marriage comes with the terms of obligation based in law. Spousal support, as well as responsibility for the necessaries of life - food, shelter, clothing and medical care - is included. All of these are gender neutral, but the act that could lead to the resounding 'no', with the aid of biology and nature, is likely to be perpetuated only by the male. This leads to the necessity for consideration of the consent form.

Think about the complexities. When would this form be executed? Biweekly, monthly, per event, and for what period would it be deemed valid evidence in the courts? A word of advice: Should the 'no' be brandished, any attempt to ignore at the event will more than likely result in an encounter less than satisfactory. Remember the satisfaction that led to the execution of the contract. It will not be there. Worth it?

The committee of Parliament was also troubled with the desire to see some addition of an improper behaviour labelled financial abuse. The fact that Belize and Trinidad and Tobago are cited as being enlightened in the matter must not be held as appropriate examples. Jamaican men might very well test this in the spirit of gender equality.

Large numbers of women are in the workplace at good financial remuneration. There is the lament that with only 20 per cent of university graduates being male, there is fertile ground to allege financial abuse on the part of the well-heeled women. The machinations of this could occupy the mind for a long time. Men find only the women who earn the same as they do. If she goes to acquire additional education, make sure you do the same. Imagine being in court because the 'us' was played and the household expenses were shared equally, yet she earned twice what you took home. Audi vs deportee.

SOMETHING GONE WRONG

The Kingston College Old Boys' Association seeks to reinstate the no-women policy for its annual gala. Is this discriminatory, or an affirmation of the man? The North Street institution has a long, proud history, and in my days at Wolmer's Boys' School, we heard frequently that St Hugh's was their 'sister' school. How come now the desire to be apart from them, if even for one night? It is even more interesting to recall that the women were admitted one year, and will be left outside the next. Something must have gone terribly wrong on that occasion where all were in attendance. At least, Wolmer's Boys shares a common fence with the girls' school. We grew up recognising their attributes. Sorry, Kingston College.

The era of the public woman is now firmly established. Women now occupy significant positions of leadership. The prime minister, the chief justice, the director of public prosecutions (DPP), chief medical officer at the Ministry of Health, the auditor general. And the list continues.

Now I applaud all these capable and qualified persons. However, there seems to be a growing trend that could be interpreted as disquieting. The DPP and the commissioner of INDECOM are engaging in spats that seem to be born of personality conflicts. Their personal history would also support this in that both served together in the Office of the DPP. Could it be that there was no love lost between them that has continued? It is being reported in some news media, though not confirmed, that a woman is to be the next public defender, for the first time. Could it be that the men of the learned legal profession do not measure up in all spheres of leadership?

The strong push to raise the age of consent may very well make sense from a sociological perspective. I am of the opinion, though, that it will make no difference. Our society is subject to strong sexual impulses in all age groups. Sex sells.

Raising the age of consent does not retard biological development. Spend more time, effort and energy to affect social behaviour. Age is a number that is almost meaningless in this activity. The only result is the criminalisation of more young persons. It could take over from the possession of a spliff in creating criminal records.

The old order changeth, yielding place to the new. Men, beware.

Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney/Supreme Court mediator. Email
feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.