Mout' Mek Fi Talk!
Published: Sunday | February 27, 2011

Despite touting sexual fidelity, many Jamaican men and women are less rigid when theory meets practice.

Kevin O'Brien Chang, Contributor


Question: Will Jamaica ever experience a people-power revolution à la Tunisia and Egypt?

Answer: Yes, when hell freezes over.

Since the first in 1944, Jamaica has held 13 universal adult suffrage general elections. Six of these were won by the party in power, six by the opposition, and in 1949, the incumbent party won the most seats but lost the popular vote. There have been no assassinations, coups, or revolutions. Not once has the legitimacy of an elected government ever been challenged. Post-World War II, no country on the planet can boast a better democratic scorecard.

All Jamaicans are secure in the knowledge that we can do away with any unpopular government with the tick of a ballot-box pencil. So the notion of angry mobs marching on Gordon House is simply laughable.

As to claims that Jamaicans are 'fed up' and 'can't take it no more' and 'want to change the system', well, actions speak louder than words. And where is the slightest shred of evidence that anyone desires fundamental change in the way this country is organised or governed? As Granny used to say, mout' mek fi talk.

What Jamaicans say, and what they actually do, are usually two different things. Take, for instance, the September 17, 2010 Don Anderson poll in which 63 per cent supported the notion of no sex before marriage. The last time I checked with the Registrar General's Department, less than 15 per cent of Jamaican babies were born to married couples. And even a child knows 63 can't go into 15!

In the same poll, 63 per cent said it was wrong for married people to have affairs. This in 'the Nine Commandments country' where 'thou shalt not commit adultery' doesn't register on even our pastors' brains, where nearly every roots play focuses on 'bun' and jacket, where Kingsley 'Ragashanti' 'It's All about the Bunning' Stewart hosts the hottest radio show in the land, and where Joe Grind is such a national hero that they named a roots tonic wine after him!

Clearly, what the poll respondents really meant to say was, 'Of course, premarital sex and adultery are wrong, but only for other people!'

These survey results instantly brought two questions to mind. How did so many Jamaicans manage to keep a straight face while condemning premarital sex and adultery? And how did Don Anderson and his field pollsters stop themselves from bursting out laughing while recording these responses?

According to a 2010 presentation by the Jamaica Business Council on HIV & AIDS, Jamaican men claimed to have had an average of 5.68 sexual partners in the previous 12 months, while the women clocked in at 2.91. Apparently, these are pretty high numbers by global standards, and someone joked that the World Bank asked if it was a misprint! All this was naturally talked about with a kind of knowing 'of course, Jamaicans have more sex than anywhere else!' pride.

sex surveys

According to an August 12, 2007 New York Times piece, a United States survey showed American men had a median of seven lifetime female sex partners, while a British study reported 12.7 lifetime heterosexual partners per male. Considering that Jamaican men claim nearly six per annum, well, as they say, do the math.

As to whether sex surveys report actual facts or wishful thinking, who knows? But a friend once put it this way. 'Jamaica is either the most sexually repressed or most sexually active country in the world - because that's all we seem to sing about!' Indeed, this island of 2.7 million has likely produced more sexually explicit songs than the rest of our 6.7 billion strong planet combined. Which is no mean feat, when you think of it, and proves that we can achieve world-class productivity when

properly motivated!

Even more striking than the raw numbers was the 2-1 male-female ratio, which simply cannot be true. To quote the above NY Times article, "It is mathematically impossible for the mean number of partners for men to be different from the mean for women in any given population with equal numbers of heterosexual men and women." Or to put it another way, Jamaican men cannot possibly have twice as many sex partners as Jamaican women unless 1 + 1 = 3.

In fact, these figures may actually be proving right the adage - 'Whatever the number of sexual partners, a woman claims to have had, double it to get the real number!'

The May 22, 2009 Gleaner article, 'Amendment to act calls out fathers', quoted Prime Minister Bruce Golding as supporting legislative change to require the inclusion of the father's name in the birth registration. "Some level of priority should be given to the proposed amendments" and "the legislation should be in Parliament in the next three months".

The May 28, 2009 Observer reported from a Portmore town hall meeting that the prime minister again served notice of his Government's plans to enact laws that "will require the name of the father to be included on the birth certificate of the child ... . If the father does not wish to come forward, we are going to make provision for the mother to name the father. We will then serve a notice on the father to say you have been named, and we will give the father an opportunity to challenge that. And if the named person denies that he is the father, then he is going to be required to submit himself to a DNA test." 'Loud applause and whistles followed ... .'

Well, despite the 'level of priority' and 'next three months' and 'loud applause and whistles', we have heard nothing more on the matter. Now, based on the record, Bruce Golding can hardly be considered a man who keeps his promises. Look how he bragged at last November's Jamaica Labour Party conference that he was "willing to make my financials public tomorrow" since "I have nothing to hide", only to promptly go silent on the issue.

But since politicians only do what they think will win them votes, it is perhaps understandable that Mr Golding has made no effort to push through the promised 'mandatory father-registration' legislation. After all, there is not even the slightest indication of public interest in such a measure. To my knowledge, not a single civil-society grouping of any sort - Church, business, human rights, child protection, women's affairs, national coalition or whatever - expressed any support for the proposed law. And as they say, patient nuh care, doctor nuh care. Yes, we want stronger families and more active fathers - but only in theory.

Even the few persons who once seemed interested have seemingly found better things to occupy their time. The last time I enquired, the response was something along the lines of: "Well, the PM says it is a complex matter and so will require extensive discussion" - 21 months apparently not being enough time to debate a measure which is pretty standard fare in most civilised countries. At least the answer in 2006 was a more honest: "What you want to do? Embarrass the big man dem?"

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