Thursday, 27 July 2017

Gym Etiquette

There is no pleasant way of saying this, so here goes, body odour is offensive. The gym serves a dual role and purpose. Our views and opinions are largely rooted in how we are socialized, as well as, the values and attitudes which are important in and to our families. However, on the issue of personal hygiene I do believe that there should be some basic standards, especially regarding the sharing of public space. In recent times there has been an increase focus on the health of Jamaicans. This increase spotlight is aimed at promoting a state of conscious and physical activity among the populace.  The Ministry of Health currently has a programme called “Jamaica Moves” which is geared at getting Jamaicans to lead a healthier lifestyle by encouraging them to engage in some physical activity to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCD’s), for example, diabetes and hypertension and to remain healthy. Hugh, 49, who attends the gym regularly, shares his opinion in the following way. “Because you shower every night before you go to bed”, Hugh says there is no need to shower before you go to the gym. For those who go to the gym in the evenings Hugh has a different perspective. “Evening goers I believe must be refresh with proper hygiene after work before going to the gym. He added that proper hygiene in this regard does not  necessarily mean taking a shower but could include using a deodorant or brushing one’s teeth. Another colleague Fabian shared his opinion. “Without a doubt, body odours are not always pleasant. Most gyms are inside of an enclosed space which traps the various odours. Fabian added that taking a shower encourages confidence. “When you shower it makes you know that you smell fresh, makes you feel more relax after a long and tiring workout”. It’s always good to have a perspective from both sexes. Miss Bucky answered in the affirmative to the question. “I have to, I feel nasty. Ok so I am a low key germophobe so I always shower before any physical activity including the gym. When I go there I have to see them with Lysol or some other cleaning aid to clean off the equipment you can imagine catching crabs OMG! or Hepatitis C”.  A germophobe is a person with an extreme fear of germs and an obsession with cleanliness. Clearly a germophobe would have an impulse to take a shower before going to the gym and after working out. 
Claude, age 54, is an avid gym goer voiced his opinion “Why freshen up to go get all hot and sweaty. Unless one has a high body odour then a shower would help to keep the odour down during a workout. But it also depends on how bad the odour is, so if you have a means of controlling same with a shower and medication and deodorant then by all means it’s fine to shower before gym”. Anthony, age 45, “If I am leaving work where I am in the air conditioning all day I am not going to shower before gym. However, if I am out and about and sweating and smelly, I owe it to those in the gym not to make them uncomfortable with my smell”.
Scents, Sexuality and Personal Hygiene
As humans we try our best to prevent ourselves from perspiring by using various antiperspirants and deodorants. We are socialized from early that excessive sweating is to be shun and not to be tolerated. This natural occurring human activity perspiration is often used to label individuals as being nasty and dirty. Pheromones are chemical substances that are secreted through our skin pores. Pheromones are crucial to critical development phases in our lives, from breast-feeding to mate selection. It can be argued that the scent produced by pheromones contribute to making us horny. In light of the fact that most gyms if not all are used by both males and females the gym is often a place of hooking up as well as for getting one into shape. Androstenone is a pheromone compound that is present in male and female sweat. In males, androstenone is associated with alpha-male like characteristics to be the leader. Females often see the alpha-male as dominant and sexually appealing. Androstenol is found in the sweat glands of males and has a musky smell. Many studies have concluded that women who produce higher than average amounts of female pheromones also known as Copulins have greater success with men. These women are often viewed as exciting, seductive and desirable. Interestingly, body scents can and does send sexual messages to the opposite sex. Whether or not we act on the message is another story and for another blog.  The reasons why people go to the gym are wide and varied. Maybe you are desirous of meeting someone of the opposite sex? Perhaps, going to the gym for you is mainly to build muscles, or maybe to tone your body.  Whatever your reasons are for going to the gym just be mindful that you share a public space and as such you should do your part in making the gym experience a pleasant one for others.  
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo
#pheromone #copulins #androstenol #hormones #sweat #physicalactivity #sexuality #gym #androstenone #hepatitisC  #germophobe #personalhygiene  #masculinity #femininity

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Scaffolding Boys' GSAT Achievement

For the first time since 2012, boys outperformed girls in the 2017 sitting of the Language Arts paper in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). According to data released by the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information, boys achieved a higher mean percentage score of 76.7% in Language Arts, compared to 68.5 % for girls. This development augurs well for boys’ education, especially since men’s educational attainments have fallen and continue to fall drastically behind women’s. Boys’ underachievement has been at the heart of many academic journals and discussion over the years. The issue is not unique to Jamaica; in fact the concern is of global significance and is rooted in both a socio-political and educational ideology. Males over the years have been underperforming at almost every level of Jamaica’s education system. There are various schools of thought which have been forwarded with regards to boys’ underachievement. There are those who argue that boys’ underachievement is a direct result of the emphasis that has been placed on girls and women. Secondly, there are those who locate the problem in relation to wider social changes and how this impacts males, particularly adolescent males with regards to their view of masculinity and schooling. Statistics from the Mona Campus, of the University of the West Indies, indicate that more than seventy per cent (70%) of all graduates are females. Data from the other degree granting institutions paint a similar picture. The discourse surrounding gender and education is often emotional resulting in a loss of focus regarding the issue at hand. Boys too have structural hurdles to overcome in the education system.  One such is the gender-based bias in the curriculum as well as the methodology being used. It is hope that the new National Standards Curriculum (NSC) will address the deficit boys’ face. According to the Minister of Education, Senator Ruel Reid, the National Standards Curriculum will improve methods of teaching, particularly for boys. The National Standards Curriculum aims at improving the general academic performance, attitude and behavior of students. The National Standard Curriculum is student centered and emphasis will be placed on project-based and problem-solving learning, with Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics (STEAM) incorporated at all levels of the education system. It is critical that we engage our males, specifically, adolescent males in trying to change the gender norms within the society, one of which is that English Language is a girl’s subject. Unfortunately, we live in a society in which boys who display school smarts are often ridiculed as effeminate by peers and even adults in areas where academic excellence by males is typically devalued. Undoubtedly, our males continue to struggle with questions surrounding their masculinity and manhood and many just give in to the popular culture of the day. The achievement of our boys at the primary level is more significant against this prevailing thug culture often far removed from education. It would be interesting to have the progress of these young men tracked over the duration of their high school years to see how well they perform at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) especially so in English Language. We need to build on the momentum gained from the boys’ GSAT achievement by fostering a movement to rescue our boys from academic slumber. The onus is on the policy makers to ensure that equality of educational opportunity for both sexes is achieved and that this is sustainable for the long term viability and development of the society.  In the words of freedom fighter and statesman Nelson Mandela, education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

A Changing Culture- For the Better or Worse?

“We are, at almost every point of our day, immersed in cultural diversity: faces, clothes, smells, attitudes, values, traditions, behaviours, beliefs, rituals”- Randa Abdel- Fattah
It is astonishing and somewhat frightening how our ideas about self, the society, gender-relations, masculinity, politics, culture and indeed the world have changed over time. Recently, a colleague and I had a discussion surrounding some of the social issues which infuriate many law abiding citizens. My colleague was very obdurate regarding how much in bondage we still are as a people and collectively as a society. My colleague stated that the freedom we lose as a society with each fleeting culture change is rather disturbing and unacceptable. It bears thought as to what are some of these freedoms? We are also left to ponder whether or not culture is static or is culture on a continuum defined by globalization and technological advancement.  Culture is defined by The Center for Research of Language as the characteristics of knowledge of a group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. The Center for Research of Language Acquisition goes a step further by defining culture as shared patterns of behaviours and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding that are learned by socialization. This bondage of self to which we seek freedom is to a great extent self-imposed having been socialized in a manner not to critically think outside the box about issues which affect us, including those pertaining to cultural matters. We live in a society in which our mores and norms are part of the socialization process and are handed down to us from role models and parental figures usually along matriarchal lines. To this extent one can easily dismiss the father figure role in the process of socialization since many of our homes are father-less. This is quite troubling on many fronts, especially the responsibility regarding how to be a man role has been taken over by mothers, strong black women, who single-handedly have had to raise generations of boys into men. This is especially true for Jamaica, as the 2012 Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions shows that 46.4 per cent of all households were female-headed. One can surmise that the situation has worsened since the survey was conducted five years ago. Dr. Barry Davidson of the Family Life Ministries research was a bit more probing and revealed that father-absent children scored lower in Intelligence Quotient (IQ) than father-present children. This finding is rather disconcerting and should be of concern not only to parents but to the policy makers especially those in the field of education.  Undoubtedly, this finding has serious implications regarding parenting in light of the absence and burdens this place on the parent who is there in administering discipline and raising the children.
Genderization of our Culture
We live in a world and society in which even our refreshments and drinks have been coloured by gender. We often speak of female drinks and male drinks. I was at the barbershop recently, and my barber informed me that Smirnoff is a typical a female drink; he went on school me in the genderization of liquor. He ended the lesson by telling me that Campari was a male drink. My trip to the barbershop was for a haircut, not to be schooled in the binary construction of drinks along gendered lines. However, we all know that the barbershop just as much as the hair salon is that space, where ideas collide consciously and subconsciously on life and social issues. The premise behind the male versus female drinks has much to do with the alcohol content in a drink the more alcohol content the more masculine gender the drink becomes associated with.  Additionally, our fruits have also taken on a gendered involvedness. The peach for example, is largely considered a female fruit. My colleague added that many men do not eat strawberry, simply because, they claim nothing of that colour should pass their mouth. Just stupidity if you ask me!  However, this is the reality and these realities are true of men from a wider cross section of the society regardless of the intersectionality of social class, educational background, religious persuasion or age. These gendered ideas are rooted in a culture of hyper-masculinity and machismo. Ironically, behind closed doors, some of the said men who have this twisted ideas, are the very ones who are indulging in fifty shades of grey and ‘under the table’ activities. Years ago males who used lip-balm were looked on as being weird, now, it has become commonplace, especially in North America for men to wear chap sticks especially during the harsh months of winter. The examples are endless and all these issues are associated with social constructs that each society has in place to somewhat regulate human behavior. The politician by the name Andrew Fletcher once said; "Let me write the songs of a nation: I don’t care who writes its laws.” His point is all too clear for if music were a workman's tool it would be a hammer. As per definition by the Center for Research of Language the behaviours and thought patterns that create culture are learned. However, one does not become cultured by merely reading about a culture and I would argue that the halls of academia have little impact. Culture is formed through living and interacting with people, together we form culture. I made reference to music because I believe this is our most effective way of influencing behaviour and thought construct. Parents have a lot to do with our cultural make up. Music, especially reggae touches people at the very core (heart beat music), stirring emotions and imprinting on our minds the doctrines that becomes culture.  Some may see this as another attempt to malign Reggae music. However, this is not the case. I am a lover of our music and I am proud of it being a hallmark of our culture. With that said I look back on my own life and remember messages and ideas that were conveyed via all genres of media but found music to be the most influential. During the 1980s crack/cocaine was issues new to Jamaican youths but not for the life of me can I recall one advertisement regarding this issue. The mass was once again reached through music. The lyrics; "doone gi mi that mi nuh waan nuh crack" and "coke is a ting weh feed pan yuh system" comes to mind.  This followed by Shine Head encouraging us to; strive, remove the doubt from out your minds and let good flow". The Jamaican cultural identity continues to evolve.  Our values and attitudes are no longer being shaped and defined by ourselves. Instead the Jamaican cultural identity has become a cultural hybrid mirroring closely the happenings of those who control of the economic purse string to which the Jamaican state need access to in order to realize sustainable development and progress.
In the words of Mark Pagel, culture has worked by coming to exercise a form of mind control over us. We willingly accept and even embrace this mind control, and probably without even knowing it.   

Wayne Campbell, waykam@yahoo.com, @WayneCamo
and Andrew Nugent, laptopswer@gmail.com

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Education, Masculinity and Examination

For the first time since 2012, boys outperformed girls in the 2017 sitting of the Language Arts paper in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). According to data released by the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information, boys achieved a higher mean percentage score of 76.7% in Language Arts, compared to 68.5 % for girls. This development augurs well for boys’ education, especially since men’s educational attainments have fallen and continue to fall drastically behind women’s. Boys’ underachievement has been at the heart of many academic journals and discussion over the years. The issue is not unique to Jamaica; in fact the concern is of global significance and is rooted in both a socio-political and educational ideology. Males over the years have been underperforming at almost every level of Jamaica’s education system. There are various schools of thought which have been forwarded with regards to boys’ underachievement. There are those who argue that boys’ underachievement is a direct result of the emphasis that has been placed on girls and women. Secondly, there are those who locate the problem in relation to wider social changes and how this impacts males, particularly adolescent males with regards to their view of masculinity and schooling. Statistics from the Mona Campus, of the University of the West Indies, indicate that more than seventy per cent (70%) of all graduates are females. Data from the other degree granting institutions paint a similar picture. The discourse surrounding gender and education is often emotional resulting in a loss of focus regarding the issue at hand. Boys too have structural hurdles to overcome in the education system.  One such is the gender-based bias in the curriculum as well as the methodology being used. It is hope that the new National Standards Curriculum (NSC) will address the deficit boys’ face. According to the Minister of Education, Senator Ruel Reid, the National Standards Curriculum will improve methods of teaching, particularly for boys. The National Standards Curriculum aims at improving the general academic performance, attitude and behavior of students. The National Standard Curriculum is student centered and emphasis will be placed on project-based and problem-solving learning, with Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics (STEAM) incorporated at all levels of the education system. It is critical that we engage our males, specifically, adolescent males in trying to change the gender norms within the society, one of which is that English Language is a girl’s subject. Unfortunately, we live in a society in which boys who display school smarts are often ridiculed as effeminate by peers and even adults in areas where academic excellence by males is typically devalued. Undoubtedly, our males continue to struggle with questions surrounding their masculinity and manhood and many just give in to the popular culture of the day. The achievement of our boys at the primary level is more significant against this prevailing thug culture often far removed from education. It would be interesting to have the progress of these young men tracked over the duration of their high school years to see how well they perform at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) especially so in English Language. We need to build on the momentum gained from the boys’ GSAT achievement by fostering a movement to rescue our boys from academic slumber. The onus is on the policy makers to ensure that equality of educational opportunity for both sexes is achieved and that this is sustainable for the long term viability and development of the society.  In the words of freedom fighter and statesman Nelson Mandela, education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Poem-Why

Why am I constantly being overlooked?
Why am I being sidelined?
The system has failed us!
Crafted by those who have schemed and undermined others and have rewarded their corrupt cronies with positions of influence and power!
Where did we go wrong as a society?

Our silence mistaken for consent, 
It was not always like this.
In a bygone time,
one’s level of professionalism was enough.
Truth, commitment to task and respect for all were valued principles,
sufficient to move one up the ranks

Even with their power and position they are like empty shells
Void of any sense of decency and principle
Waiting to be cracked, exposing the rottenness within
They are the products of their own dysfunctional upbringing
They are perplexed and burden with a sense of guilt that cannot be masked forever

If only they would look in the mirror
And see what is looking back at them!
Shame! A most putrid state of affairs
Should I abandon those principles which my mother taught me?
Should I sacrifice my sense of self? Should I deny who I am? 

Why it is that corruption continues to be rewarded in the society
What is going to happen to the society if no one stands up?
History will be our judge.
Why am I writing this?
Why!

© Wayne Campbell

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A Culture of Greed And Corruption

When A.L Hendricks penned the words to the song “Jamaica Land of Beauty”, he must have foreseen the potential that this beautiful island had in this vast and increasingly complex world. Hendricks went on to seal his commitment to a new nation with the words. “We promise faithfully, to serve thee with our talents and bring our gifts to thee. Jamaica we will always in honour of thy name, work steadfastly and wisely and never bring thee shame”. The potential would have required such commitment to national development has been railroaded by consistent social indiscipline and political corruption. This genesis of corrupt practices in Jamaica is rooted in every aspect of society and its tentacles have no new ground to cover. On a daily basis, the vicious consequences of these illegal activities are being plastered in our minds through conventional and social media. Our nation is covered in the blood of victims, innocent or not, taken by the brute callousness of hardened criminals. Corruption can be simple in its manifestation, as well as, it and can be acquainted with regular everyday citizens, not just through the corridors of politics or commerce. 
A Culture of Corruption
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of listening to Cliff Hughes Online. During a feature called ‘Ask the OPM’. A gentleman called the talk show to highlight the corruption in the police force but before he was allowed to extend his point, he started out admitting that he was driving at an extreme high rate of speed. His admission was so alarming that Mr. Hughes was rather quick to castigate his reckless actions, and rightfully so. The caller went on to tell of his experience after being pulled over by the police. Instead of being arrested or given a hefty ticket, the police officer, according to this caller, was adamant in giving this reckless driver the option of “paying’ his way out of his trouble or being penalized by the law. Of course, the caller chose the former and provided monetary compensation to ease his rather awkward dilemma. Both the host of the radio talk show as well as his guests from the Office of the Prime Minister was alarmed by the caller’s experience with the police. My own reaction was a little different in that I have heard of numerous cases where members of the public have had similar interactions with the Jamaican Police. Why as a society Jamaica’s propensity for indiscipline and corruption remains despite various attempts to rid the society of this menace?
It is safe to say at this point that indiscipline has become rooted in our culture and over the years has gotten increasingly worse. Many Jamaicans feel that prosecution for criminality is usually nonexistent so this reality feeds the wanton disregard for law and order in many spheres of life, from road usage to political policies. I have driven on many of our roadways and it has become the norm for careless and often times reckless driving to take place on these sometimes busy thoroughfares.
Outside Perception
A few months ago I was in a barbershop in the small town of Davidson NC. As soon as the barbers realized that I was from Jamaica, one quickly and without hesitation asked why is it so terrifying to drive on the streets of Jamaica? The question came from observations made over multiple visits to what he himself claimed was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. However, he has always been terrified by the way Jamaican drivers used the roadways.  I thought about my response and with a smile started to give him my own interpretation of the vehicular skills of my countrymen. I explained that Jamaican masculinity dictates, as in every aspect of the life of a ‘real man’, he should be the best at what he does and he should be aggressive and confident in his doings. As it relates to driving a motor vehicle, the driver should be skillful in how he maneuvers that motor vehicle and the limits of this machine should be pushed to the extreme at all times. Should you as a man choose to drive within the guidelines of the road code, you may be considered interference to another man’s endless quest to be a ‘shotta driver’, a local term that denotes the superiority of his skillfulness. You will of course be subject to colourful colloquial expressions in an effort to demean your masculinity as a “ediyat driva” etc. It is not unusual for lawful road users to be occasionally bullied, verbally insulted or criticized while trying to use the roads in Jamaica.  After this caller was caught speeding by police, he certainly thought that he was now in trouble through his own admission, with the law. Nevertheless the representative of the law, the policeman, who swore to uphold the Jamaican laws in his commitment to serve and protect, sought to break that same oath through greed driven motives and blatant corrupt practices. Some may argue that the police in Jamaica are given an impossible task to curb the criminality in the society, yet they are poorly paid, given limited resources and have very limited access to psychological support. These instances of inadequacy cannot be an excuse for members of the Security Forces to be engaged in these kinds of unlawful practices. The officer may be finding it very difficult to make ends meet and sees his behavior as a means to subsidize his income. He is willing to destroy his reputation and the stability his job provides for him and his family.   
The Way Forward
We must seek to change the thinking that “ah so Jamaica run”. We need to move away from the ideals of paying our way out of trouble and draw the line between integrity and the scourge of corruption. Can we as a society continue to sustain this festering of corrupt activities and at the end of the day consecrate ourselves as a developing nation? The society must put measures in place to fight corruption in every form if we are to seriously contend with Hendricks’s ideology of steadfastly working to build a better nation. In order to maintain our integrity intact corruption must be addressed once and for all. It is only then can be have an inclusive society; one that is prosperous and progressive.
Kurt Hickling, is an educator and cultural studies advocate with an interest in the cultural dimensions affecting males.
I wish to thank Kurt for his contribution. You may send comments to Kurt, whether via email or through Twitter!
kurthickling@gmail.com
@jamteach1976
 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Poem-You

                                                                    Poem- You

Blurred lines
The envelope has been shattered
Psycho analyzing and deconstructing this new frontier
Boldness Perhaps

Hello miss, pardon me sir
May I have this dance?
It was unintentional or was it?
Have my excuse please

Unisex clothing allowing for freedom of space and bodies
Bleached skin- a currency for social mobility in a society steep in colour prejudice,
Parading in the hot afternoon sun wrapped with cellophane,
Without a care in the world.

Chased!
Beaten!
Stabbed to death!
Good riddance! Where is your humanity?
Deafening Silence!

A warning salvo for “others”-
To behave and know their place
How dare you?
Who do you think you are?

On the fringes of the society
Defenseless
Exposed
Jamaican!

 Wayne Campbell

 ©