Recently there has been increased awareness and accordingly increased public discourse about “violence against women”.
The truth is nothing has changed. An under-educated, homophobic society enslaved by the Christian Church is indoctrinated to use violence to solve disputes (after all God Himself will get angry and smite you if you do anything “wrong” or, perish forbid, “sinful”); and men will prove their indisputable machismo by treating women as subservient sexual substances to use as they like. This has been going on ever since the allegory that Eve was made from Adam’s rib was published. This has been used by the Church (inspired by the time of writing’s entrenched misogyny) incorrectly to alter women’s character from just another part of the same God from which Adam came into nothing more than a delicious meal for men, especially with barbecue sauce.
Nothing has changed. A high-profile attack on women — whether by assault, rape, murder or all of the above — is followed by loud recriminations from feminist activists (who appear to have no clue how to make a change except by vilifying men) and by insincere men trying their best to keep straight faces while pretending to support the feminists in the secret hope it’ll get them laid. Everybody’s solution is new, “improved” criminal legislation to include harsher penalties for sexual offenders.
Sigh. Been there. Done that.
Nothing has changed. Legislation can’t change anybody’s indoctrination. Legislation won’t change values, attitudes or traditions. Legislation likely to be enforced by agencies overly endowed with members themselves brainwashed along the same lines as pre-historic society is certain to make not a whit of difference. But we’ll have televised committee hearings where politicians will get a chance to sound-bite the problem to death and a new law (which politicians will boast proves they care) will be placed on the books; transferred to file 13; and dysfunctional society will press on regardless.
Because, if nothing changes, nothing will change! If we continue to address societal problems with politically motivated legislation that can’t (or won’t) be enforced nothing will change. If we continue to address societal issues without doing the hard work required to change values and attitudes but, instead, passing facile legislation that, if properly enforced, only creates more residents in Government-run gated communities, nothing will change.
So is there a solution? You betcha. But that solution won’t be found one day in Parliament. It requires a mindset adjustment firstly by my generation, then it requires political and social will to pay that mindset change forward. It begins with a rejection of our inbred attitude to sexual relations which, for too long, has been driven by shame, fear and guilt.
In order to deal honestly and effectively with the issue of sexual relations, we must banish ingrained sexual reflexes all of which have been infused into our brains at Church. This can only be done when we understand that sexual relations are good, virtuous and honourable. They shouldn’t be driven by lust but must always involve passion. Sexual relations shouldn’t be entered into with abandon which too many of us equate with freedom.
It’s a cruel fallacy that sexual relations are solely for procreation. Sexual relations, when entered into for the right reasons, are the most pleasurable, satisfying fulfilling of all human activities. Procreation is its reward NOT its sole purpose. Sex for pleasure is the highest form of self-love and even the most devout pastor knows we are promised great things if only we “love thy neighbour as thyself” which is an encouragement for self-love first.
But this isn’t what we’ve been taught. Too many mothers teach their daughters that sex is transactional and the best way to get ahead in life is to seduce the right (read “rich”) man and achieve your goals with his money and/or influence. This usually leads to an unsatisfying sex life, multiple sex partners (as over compensation) and violence against women. And men.
Once we alter our mindset from trying the same thing over and over as a societal reaction to violence against women, we’ll begin to see real change. But, please, take my word for one thing. No day; no week, no month, no year in Parliament will change anything. Change will only come when those who vote lawmakers into Parliament change.
So resist the urge to traditionalize superficial, popular, fake pronouncements of condemnation for actions you know are daily occurrences but upon which you only speak out or suggest change when one (or three) attract media hype. Stop trying to trick us into believing there’s a parliamentary switch that will turn off (or even reduce) violence against women.
I’ll never forget the daily efforts of The Old Ball and Chain to deal with this problem. She has contributed more for real reduction of violence against women in Jamaica than any Parliamentarian I’ve known.
When the boys were still in single digits (age-wise) and she had to take them somewhere there was always a mad rush to be first through the front door. Old BC simply stood back and waited. You see, she was the only one in the crowd with a driver’s licence. So she held the handle. She never had to say a word. Soon they realized they would be going nowhere unless their approach changed. So they meekly came back inside; two stood behind her while the third opened the door for her.
I’ll never forget, years later when The Computer Whiz was a teenager, an arbitrary woman approached Old BC in a pharmacy and said “What a well mannered son you have. He opened the pharmacy door for me!” It was as if she had never seen the phenomenon before. This may seem a small thing to you. It. Is. Not! Also it’s just a memorable example of many lessons she force-fed her three sons.
Examples like these might lead us to the eternal truth that the required change can only come from the home with a little help from some national agencies like schools. This eternal truth will teach us that Parliament is almost irrelevant in this quest for improved values and attitudes save whenever it recognizes that political sound-bites must make way for educational policies that seek to solve the problem in a generation rather than in a day. When it comes to values and attitudes Parliament is the nation’s worst exemplar as most recently exposed by the stark contradiction between announced vaccine priorities and the mad rush to secretly vaccinate Parliamentarians of all ages many with zero co-morbidities.
The majority of Jamaican homes won’t be in a position to make the mindset change required to teach the next generation. So it must start in school. We must include age appropriate sex education in curricula from the very first year in primary school. But, before we can do that, we must train teachers in the correct value of sexual relations and the correct attitude to take to that most important life experience so they can transmit it to students without making sex seem dirty unless approved by the Church. THAT only creates more pastoral predators
We must teach our secondary school students the difference between sex (biologically defined) and gender (internal self-identity). Guidance counsellors must be properly trained to teach values and attitudes based on equality of the human race.
The next generation must learn that people of different sexual orientations or gender identities were sent here by God, just like everybody else, and we must embrace and glorify inherent differences in sexual identity and orientation. They exist. They exist because God included them in our awesome diversity. There’s no sin in any of it. And it isn’t anybody’s fault that he/she was born in a “wrong” body and mistakenly assigned a gender at birth. Thankfully, science has developed safe methods to correct this congenital error and to ensure true gender identity is confirmed later in life.
Transgender individuals are simply human brings whose incorrectly assigned gender identity at birth has been rectified and should have all the rights as any other human being for the simple reason that he or she IS just another human being. But generations of bigoted indoctrination has transported us to a place where we cannot grasp this. So the lessons for change must begin in school so that, in a generation’s time, these values and attitudes will become the new normal.
“Violence against women” will only be reduced when human beings respect other human beings which will inexorably lead to women being respected as human beings. That’s not the case now and no Act of Parliament will make it so. Acts of Parliament that cut against a mainstream pre-historic culture hammered home weekly from the pulpit are like mosquitoes sent to kill an elephant.
Only an educational revolution that takes into account the equal importance of Sex Education, Values, Attitudes, Guidance Counselling and Civics to Mathematics and English can take Jamaica to the place where a new law can have any effect.