Thursday, 9 November 2017

Married But Less Sex: A Male Perspective

“My wife and I are deeply committed to each other but to have a happier marriage we need more sex”. Those are the words of my colleague, Alphanso, age 43; one might add the sentiments expressed by him are quite common in today’s society, especially among men. In almost every research done on relationship and the extent to which couples are happy, sex is usually the number one area of concern for both partners. The frequency of sex between married couples is often a private matter and as such lends itself to much debate with regards to what makes for a healthy marriage. “Sexual intercourse is dynamic and should be in a marriage” so says Andrew, Whether we admit to it or not we live in a sexualized and an instant gratification world. Sex, is one of ways in which intimacy can be expressed between couples. Denton, age 44, who is also married, adds a different dimension.  He opines that some women withhold sex in a marriage as a way of punishing the husband.  According to Denton, who is also a Christian “lady withholding sex because the man didn’t meet up to her expectation, didn’t clean the car, didn’t come home early enough”. As a result of missing the deadlines a “shop lock” effect comes into play; of course this is not a game any husband is fond of.  However, the “shop lock” scenario, is not gender specific, and there are some males who too use this mechanism either to punish or get back at their spouse.  Undoubtedly, sex is important in having and maintaining a healthy marriage. Conversely, there are occasions where factors can and does interfere with the frequency of this most precious of God’s gift.  Some of the factors which impact the frequency of sex include the work schedule of both partners. There are many instances in which couple‘s work time is so different that they are forced to schedule time for intimacy. One also has to consider whether or not the couple has children. According to Chris, the frequency of sex in a marriage is dependent on whether or not the couple has children. He is of the opinion that two to three times weekly is adequate if the couple has children. He goes to say, “If they have kids, maybe 4 times a month”. Denton adds that in order to meet the financial responsibilities of the family, both the wife and husband go to work. This he argues inevitably sees both individuals competing against themselves on different team, which puts a strain on the relationship and marriage. We must be reminded that in a marriage there should be only one team. If there are any diversions from this one team narrative, there will be trouble in any marriage.  This is never a good sign and couples which find themselves at this point must see this as a red flag and seek immediate counselling to address this.  According to Dr. Harriet Lerner, author of “Marriage Rules”, “a big problem in marriage is that one of both people start thinking something is wrong with them because they’re not having sex as much as they think they should. There is no guideline to which frequency of sex in a marriage is written. Each couple has to define their frequency of sex and intimacy based on their unique circumstances, such as the sex drive, health of the partners and or age. Denton makes an important point when he says, “intimacy is the energy, tonic, glue of a marriage” It bears thought, how healthy can a marriage be without sex? Lee, age 48 who has been married for 16 years says sex is important in a marriage because “it cements the relationship providing a bond between both people”.  When asked, how often sex happen in a marriage, Lee added, “as often as each other is able to invest in the process to get it done”.  It can be argued that if couples are not careful sex then becomes a duty and not a necessary component for having a healthy marriage. For Denton, if the atmosphere is right, nightly sex is welcome.  One has to differentiate as well between Christian marriages versus non-Christian marriages. As Christians the marriage vows are usually taken more seriously. It is quite common practice for couples in a Christian marriage to think twice before calling it a day. For Christians marriages go beyond the earthly covenant. In Christendom a marriage takes on the added significance of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. It is the spiritual representation of our relationship with God. Andrew, a colleague, said “but one thing some Christian women are criticized for is not satisfying their man, either by refusing to have sex or just not wanting to do certain things. However, this may be a mindset of security where they feel safe because they have a church man. So the thought of him straying doesn’t seem to dawn on them. It also might be that they see themselves like trophies and somewhat irreplaceable”.  Andrew, who has been married for 16 years, goes on to add that married women in general dress too conservatively when their spouses are at home. “Sexual fantasies are not given enough consideration” According to him, women and men allow themselves to become unattractive with excessive weight gains. An unattractive spouse will make intimacy and sexual intercourse that more challenging and infrequent regardless of whether or not the marriage is a Christian or non-Christian one. Unfortunately, many churches still view sex as a tabooed subject, and as a result, a lot of misinformation regarding sex, sexuality and the responsibility of spouses continue to flourish.   Each marriage is unique; and as such the individuals involved in a marriage must take ownership for the successes and or failures of this covenant agreement. It takes years to fully know your partner. It can be argued that a marriage is a work in progress. In the powerful words of Martin Luther, “There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage”.  

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
#sex #marriage #taboo #relationship #family #church #gender #sexuality

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Interrogating Jamaican Masculinity

“Black men struggle with masculinity so much. The idea that we must always be strong really presses us all down- it keeps us from growing”. –Donald Glover  
Historically, the male gender has been privileged, not only in Jamaica but also on a global scale. According to Mark Figueroa, in the book, Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: Theoretical and Empirical Analyses, “The male gender has had access to a broader social space; it has had greater control over a wider range of resources and has been more able to enjoy that it has controlled”. The privileging afforded to the male gender has significantly contributed to what some may view as the unhealthy and undesirable state of masculinity in the Jamaican society.  Additionally, the notions of masculinity and manhood are deeply entrenched and associated with the sexual objectification of women. It can be argued that all men at some point in their lives struggle with society’s standards regarding the unrealistic benchmark surrounding masculinity and manhood. As men, we are faced with a plethora of don’ts; from the silly, such as real men don’t cry, to real men don’t wear pink to the culturally popular and accepted saying that a real man should be involved in multiple relationships “gallist”. Defining masculinity and manhood is rather subjective and fluid. However, Linden Lewis, defines masculinity as a socially constructed set of gendered behaviours and practices of men, which are not frozen in time or culture and which are mediated by notions of race, class, ethnicity, religion, age and sexual orientation. Men rarely speak about their insecurities, it is not a manly thing to do, however, if truth be told, a significant number of men are made to feel less than by the ideals of manhood society portrays. A less than or feeling inadequate can emerge from not being able to provide for one’s family, measuring one’s phallic member to what one perceive it should be, comparing and contrasting body image. There is unending list of factors which men measure themselves against in defining and re-defining their manhood. In most societies there is a clear and distinct division as it relates to the meaning of gender and sex.  Doing gender is a classic sociological concept developed by Candace West and Don Zimmerman. According to West and Zimmerman gender is not something we are not born with, and not something we have, but something we do. Sex, on the other hand relates to the biology of an individual, based primarily on the reproductive prospective of the human being. The period of adolescence if often described as a most turbulent period, one characterized by experimentation, pain, failures and success and paves the way for adulthood. Traditionally, the male was seen as the protector, warrior, and hunter within the family whose primary responsibility was to ensure the safety of the family. However, the dynamics as it to relate to gender roles and responsibilities have changed over time and continue to do so.  This change has undoubtedly emasculate many men and they try to define what masculinity means in their social space. The intersection of misogyny, gender-based violence, patriarchy and cultures has impacted on the development of masculinity and manhood in all societies.        
The Development of Masculinity   
As human beings we imitated others. Outside of the fancy theories which are put forward to explain masculinity boys are socialized to mimic the role and traits of their fathers or men in their village, tribe and or communities in order to become a real man. The pathway was clear then and there was no need to interrogate and explain away differences in the society.  However, over the years there have been many theories which have tried to explain the evolution in the development process of childhood. One of the more popular among the theories is that of Object Relations Theory. This theory posits that every infant has an initial primary attachment to its mother. It is argued that after an extended period of being merged with the mother, the infant begins to separate and takes on its own identity.
Greenson and Stoller propose that a boy, as he gradually realizes that his biological sex is different from his mother’s feels compelled to give up his attachment to her and to disindentify with her as he establishes a male identity that corresponds with his biological sex.  Another theory which speaks to identity is the Gender Differentiation Theory. Irene Fast, author of Gender Identity: A Differentiation Model,  argues, that boys and girls differentiates themselves from one another as masculine and feminine in areas that correspond to societal models that may have little to do with actual biological difference. “It is the social meaning of the anatomical differences that is determinative, not the differences themselves”. It bears thought that gender is chiefly based on the performance associated with the biological sex one feels most connected to.  
Indicators of Manhood
The construction of Jamaican masculinity is deeply rooted in the cultural trappings of the society which differentiate between masculine and unmasculine domains. It can be argued that the indicators of manhood are personal as much as they are diverse. Unfortunately, since there is no official Rite of Passage from boy to manhood, it is rather difficult to gauge at one point a boy becomes a man. It can be argued that this transitionary phase is rather private and gradual. The standards by which maleness and masculinity are measured have their genesis in the aggression and tough exterior by which men are socialized. An older colleague revealed that for him manhood began at age 13. This was the age he discovered masturbation and at that point realized he had become a man. Yet, another colleague informed me that being put out of the family home at 18 by his strep-dad, was that point in his life when manhood was trusted upon him. A third colleague in his 30’s laughed when asked the question and replied that he did not know. A college batch mate said he became a man at age 19 when he stopped seeking approval from his parents about some issues in his life and started sleeping out. A friend for over 12 years said, manhood hit him at age 18. He added the laws of the land designate 18 as the age when one is responsible for themselves. 
A church brother, who is married and the father of 3 boys said manhood was trusted upon him at age 12. At that age he had passed the Common Entrance to high school and given the distance to school, he had to leave his parents home to live with a cousin. However, the cousin was hardly ever in Jamaica and the he assumed the daily responsibility of getting himself prepared for school. The construction of manhood and masculinity must also be viewed in terms of pluralizing the term masculinity.  Professor of Sociology, R. William Connell’s theory of multiple masculinities speaks of a hegemonic masculinity to which most men adhere, however, Connell also make reference to subordinate masculinities, which some men subscribe to. The realization that there are multiple masculinities and that this will have a profound impact on how a male come to the acceptance and realization that he is a man cannot be overstated. Among the popular indicators of Jamaican manhood especially rooted in the “street culture” are the smoking of marijuana, commonly called ganja, the consumption of alcoholic drinks and early sexual initiation. The reference point of manhood differs for every man. The involvement in sports is often another indicator of manhood which serves as a bridge from boyhood to manhood for a significant number of males. Another indicator of manhood in the society is grounded in graduating from high school. For a significant number of boys, school has been and continues to be viewed as a site of effeminacy and runs counter to the toxic brand of masculinity which is prevalent in the society.  The situation of boys’ education is even worst at the primary level where it is not uncommon to have a male teacher.  Odette Parry opines that education is decried as effeminate, a view which culminates in, an anti-academic ethos celebrated by the version of masculinity which informs classroom responses. Parry adds that education is not seen as “macho”, and a real man is therefore defined out of education and as such pursues other interests. There are many elements one has to consider in analyzing and interrogating the construction of Jamaican masculinity. Research done in Australia by Wayne Martino found that boys are uninterested in English because of what it might say about their masculinity. This issue of gender endangerment adds yet another layer of burden to our boys whereby they are forced to give up on speaking Standard English, since “good” speech is often associated with queer masculinity, outside of the dominant version of masculinity.   Academic underperformance can be viewed as one component of maleness in the Jamaican society. Mark Figueroa posits the view that there is an association between male academic underperformance and gender socialization practices which are rooted in male privileging. Boys are treated in a different manner than from girls from the beginning. In the homes, boys are expected to misbehave and given privileges to socialize with their friends outside of the home. Girls on the other hand are anticipated to stay at home and assist with chores as well as conform to the rules of the home. “The different requirements of female versus male grooming has been given as one example of how differential socialization impacts on skills learnt that are later useful in school (Sobo 1993, 156). This gendered approach to parenting and child rearing often serves as a stumbling block for many boys during the period of schooling and formal education.  Disturbingly, 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. It is almost as if manhood and masculinity have been hijacked by a thug culture far removed from education.  It is very clear that there is no one size fits all surrounding manhood.
Pornography and Masculinity
Pornography is everywhere. It is estimated that there are over 420 million adult web pages online. Excessive watching of pornography can and does contribute to a flawed sense of masculinity and manhood. A real man sees a woman for who she is. He respects her as well as her individuality. Pornography on the other hand, objectifies women, turning women into “things” which are there to satisfy a man’s sexual desires. The overindulgence of pornography, especially among young men who are still navigating their sexuality has added a distorted view of masculinity and manhood which sadly, a growing number of men fall into.  According to research done by Dr. Heather Rupp, pornography solves a primal problem for men: It offers easy access to commitment-free sex with multiple partners. Research indicates that the average boy watches approximately two hours of porn weekly becoming common by age 15. In a 2014 study, Dr. Foresta found that sixteen (16%) percent of high school seniors who used online porn more than once per week reported abnormally low sex desire, while none of those who did not use it reported abnormally low sexual desire. In recent studies there has been an association between erectile dysfunction and online porn use. In general terms we are what we consume. In explaining the impact of pornography on the brain, psychologist, William M. Strutters, said, “Men seem to be wired in such a way that pornography hijacks the proper functioning of their brains and have a long-lasting effect of their thoughts and lives”. He adds that pornography acts as a polydrug.  According to Struthers the male and female brain are wired differently. “A man’s brain is a sexual mosaic influenced by hormone levels in the womb and in puberty and molded by his psychological experience”.  
Without a general purpose for our lives we will be swept away by the strong current of social media and alternative cultural norms and mores. As men we need to be grounded in who we are and in terms of the purpose God has for our lives and our families. Without that spiritual and intimate connection to God we too will fall short of our purpose.
Masculinity and Men’s Health
It can be argued that gender socialization regarding how men are supposed to behave and conform to masculine norms is probably one of the biggest hurdles for men not accessing health care services.  Men on average die younger than women. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) 2015 survey, the life expectancy for females in Jamaica is 78.6 years compared to 73.9 years. Among the twenty causes for death listed by the same survey are prostate cancer, lung disease, breast cancer, stroke, violence, obesity, lung cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and coronary heart attack.  Men are socialized and cultured to bare pain and not to seek medical attention at the beginning of a state of unwellness, to do otherwise is an attack on one’s manhood. In many instances by the time a man is no longer to manage the pain or is forced to the doctor his medical condition might be far advanced. Additionally, the cultural fear many men have about having a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) is a contributing factor to the increase incidents of prostate cancer among the male population.  According to the WHO data published in May 2014, prostate cancer deaths in Jamaica reached 649 or 3.63% of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 52.12 per 100, 000 of population ranks Jamaica at number 5 in the world. It is also said that a larger percentage of men have no insurance or in fact do not use their health insurance. More men than women smoke and drink excessively and die from motor vehicle accidents. Men are less likely to go to the dentist or visit the ophthalmologist. As the male gets older his propensity to visit access medical care increases. Interestingly, as the male grows older the notions of masculine norms, gender role expectations and masculinity seems to take a back seat to wanting to survive.  The health behaviours of men clearly put men more at risk for many non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) and a way must be found to chance this narrative. A renewed effort must be made to encourage men on a broader scale to access the available health care services which are available.
Conversation about the State of Masculinity in Jamaica
In spite of all that has been said it is becoming increasingly necessary to switch between competing masculinities depending on the social circumstances and cultural space one occupies. The defining indicators of manhood two decades ago are not the same in 2017. Growing into manhood in the 1980’s was clearly linked to a heighten sense of personal responsibility, juxtaposed to manhood in the 21st century, where young men wear their pants below their waist exposing their under garments. This 21st century re-construction of masculinity is accepting of young men bleaching their skin. The under-performance of boys in scholarly pursuits has been common and problematic. Another questionable indicator of manhood is the power and influence of popular culture, especially dancehall music on the construction of masculinity and manhood. It is time for us to reclaim our manhood? It was therefore refreshing to see the Back2Life Foundation rising to the occasion to stage a conversation about the state of masculinity in Jamaica, which was held on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Back2Life is a male youth transformation organization in which professional and otherwise accomplished young men complete the only accredited mentorship course in Jamaica enabling them to mentor male “youth at risk” towards productive, positive, personal and social conduct. Back2Life offers positive guidance and leadership not ordinarily available to this cadre of unattached youth. The project was launched in July of 2012 and the major project of the Rotary Club of Kingston.  The project has over 50 trained mentors who have mentored over 120 boys. The Foundation’s flagship project operates at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre which houses around 50 juvenile boys. As a society the time has come for us to embrace and foster a culture of mentoring and mentorship.  As the construction of family and family types turn more to one of single parent female headed households there is an urgent need for our boys to have positive male role model and influence. Interestingly, for some boys the acceptance of their manhood and masculinity is closely linked to their mother’s influence given the high absence of fathers in the house. As men we need to do better!
While the turnout of men to the Back2Life public forum was encouraging, the lack of sponsorship from corporate Jamaica for such a critical area of human development speaks volume regarding the significance of lack thereof that issues related to men are afforded. It bears thought, how can you help to mentor a young man? There is the Back2LifeFoundation account at the JN Bank Limited. The account number is 2094132099. The branch routing number is 00051. Perhaps now is a right time to enquire what has become of the Male Desk at the Bureau of Gender Affairs. We all have a stake in ensuring Jamaica becomes a better place.  It is only through mentoring and mentorship by providing positive male influence that Jamaica will realize Vision 20/30 by becoming the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. It is call to action. In the powerful words of Malcolm X, a man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.     
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
#masculinity #manhood #sexuality #gender #education #mentoring #family #humandevelopment #erectiledysfunction #rolemodel #language #culture #menshealth #prostatecancer #Back2LifeFoundation #macho #gendersocialization #career #misogyny #genderbasedviolence #patriarchy #masturbation #pornography
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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The Trailblazing Dr. Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, CD

Three days after Ellen Campbell-Grizzle (PhD), received the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) for service in the field of pharmacology locally and regionally, I sat down with her at her New Kingston based office to get an insight into the life and work of this remarkable and industrious daughter of Jamaica. The fifth of seven children, Dr. Grizzle was born in St. James; however, her parents migrated shortly after her birth to Grange Hill, Westmoreland where she completed primary education. A past student of the Grange Hill Primary School, she displayed early scholarly smarts and was rewarded with a government scholarship to St. Andrew High School for Girls. Dr. Grizzle described her late father, James Constantine Augustus Campbell as amazing and gentle who encouraged her to read from an early age. “He made me feel like a ‘princess”, she said of her dad. Interestingly, her dad was also a pharmacist who discouraged his daughter from pursuing a similar career path due to the long working hours and poor remuneration. Her mother Ethline Eulalee Cottrell was Ellen’s role model. Dr. Grizzle described her mother as very outgoing who taught cooking and other skill areas at the local school. Sadly, her mother died in February of 2017 at age 106 but she lived long enough to see her daughter received her PhD from the University of the West Indies in 2011.  Her mother was also a member of the Women’s Federation a precursor to the modern day women’s rights organizations which are continuing the lobbying for the rights of women and girls.
Formative Years
After the completion of her secondary education at the prestigious all girls’ school, St. Andrew High School, Ellen worked for two years at Pan American Airlines. Dr. Grizzle confessed during our pre-lunch conversation that her first love was journalism and not pharmacology.  However, her burning desire to study journalism was not to be extinguished and would be realized in a rather strange way. Dr. Grizzle recalled that in the earlier days there was no programme in Jamaica which offered Journalism. As a result individuals who were so inclined had very few options, one of which was to study journalism through the Gleaner Company which at the time offered scholarships to aspiring journalists. It was while at a crossroads that Dr. Grizzle left her passenger service agent position at the airline and went to the College of Arts and Technology (CAST) to pursue a diploma in Pharmacology.  After graduating as a pharmacist Dr. Grizzle worked for 15 years, three of which were spent in the public sector. Dr. Grizzle also was a pharmacy owner and therefore has a unique understanding of all aspects of the profession and the business of pharmacy. She singled out working for Consolidated Laboratories as among her most meaningful experiences. It was while at CAST, which later became the University of Technology (Utech) than Dr. Grizzle” passion for public service grew and flourished. She became vice president of the CAST association of pharmacy students.  
Dr. Grizzle was very instrumental in successfully advocating for the University of Technology to offer the Bachelor of Pharmacy degree and this feat was realized in 1993 during her tenure as president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica. After working for over a decade as a pharmacist, her first love passion for journalism reignited and Ellen applied and was accepted to the Caribbean School of Media and Communication (CARIMAC).
Unknown to most people Dr. Grizzle was enrolled at both the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Technology pursuing bachelor’s degrees in pharmacology and Media and Communication at the same time. Dr. Grizzle quickly added that the pharmacology degree was an upgrade done in a modular summer programme since she already had a diploma in the discipline. This time of study was extremely challenging for her. This was especially so since she had practicum at the University Hospital of the West Indies and these sessions often clashed with class time at UWI. She was however able to successful complete both degrees and graduated with First Class Honours at UWI. She said, “God’s hand was at work which made her succeed”. Dr. Grizzle was encouraged to pursue the MPhil degree and would successfully upgrade to the PhD in 2011.
Work and Volunteerism
In addition to serving as president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Jamaica, (1992-1995),  Dr. Grizzle also was president for the Caribbean Association of Pharmacist from 2000-2008. Dr. Grizzle is currently the head of the Caribbean Institute of Pharmacy Policy Practice & Research (CIPPAR). She also worked at the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) where she was Director of Information and Research while spearheading a number of important national research projects on substance abuse.
Dr. Grizzle was also editor for Caribbean Pharmacy News for eight years. The very hardworking and affable Montegonian also had a column in the Gleaner called “Pharmacy Today”. Dr. Grizzle is certainly not all work and no fun person. She was married and has a son and a daughter and grandchildren.  It was the voice of her daughter and grandson which left Dr. Grizzle almost speechless at an event hosted by her colleagues and friends on the afternoon of Heroes Day which made the after National Heroes Day celebration more special. Nominated by her professional body, the Pharmaceutical Association of Jamaica Dr. Grizzle is the first pharmacist to have been awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class).  Dr. Grizzle continues to be a trailblazer.
In the almost hour long conversation with Dr. Grizzle one could clearly hear the  enthusiasm not only for her chosen career paths but also for her voluntary work through the Kingston Soroptimist  Club which she served as president. Dr. Grizzle quickly added that the Soroptimist Club is the oldest all female club in Jamaica. She is very active in her work with the University of Technology Students Union and Alumni regarding the welfare of needy students.  
Transitioning to Academia
In 2011 Dr. Grizzle graduated from the UWI with a Doctor of Philosophy in Communication degree. Dr. Grizzle went to the University of Technology where she served as Dean for the College of Health Sciences from 2011-2016. She is currently the University of Technology Focal Point on Herbal-Cannabis enterprise, where Jamaican herbs are tested and made into medicine. She is also lead researcher for two ongoing projects, Project Livity- A National Health Fund (NHF) funded initiative which is aimed at producing Jamaica’s first National Food Consumption Survey and a Substance Abuse Tertiary Study. Patterns & Prevalence of Drug Use/Abuse in Tertiary Institutions.   As Dr. Grizzle entered a new phase of her life she revealed that she plans to write a book on the history of pharmacy in Jamaica.  Our conservation ended with a quinessential powerful statement of purpose: Writing and explaining is what is in my future”. This trailblazer continues on her mission. Congratulations Dr. Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, CD.  May God continue to bless and sustain her. 
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

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Pain, Poverty & Childhood

“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul”- Dave Pelzer
Jamaica is often referred to as a Christian society. The society’s strong Judeo-Christian upbringing and socialization contribute to many of us being familiar with the Bible verse, Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly”. By now everyone would have watched or have heard of the video involving a mother dressed only in her underwear beating her pre-teen daughter with a machete. By now you would have come to arrive at some conclusion. For some in the society the mother should serve time in prison, while for others the mother should be given some counseling as well as parenting sessions. Historically, there is a sub-culture of a totalitarian approach to discipline as it relates to our children. Our perception of discipline is often skewed and most times no one comes to the defense of the victim. “A bad di pickney bad” is alarmingly the sentiments many of us have towards instances with clearly are cases of child abuse.  
Apart from the obvious beating seen on the video thanks to social media there are other underlying factors at play. Poverty has become a feature of many Jamaican families as more and more families struggle to provide even the basic needs of the household.  According to the World Bank, Jamaica is an upper middle income country but is affected by low growth and high public debt. The World Bank added that over the last 30 years real per capita GDP increased at an average of just one per cent per year. Sadly, the gist of all the statistics is that for many Jamaicans poverty is real and is a present and present danger. The condemnation and outrage of the mother was swift and perhaps rightly so, however, we need to also spend some time interrogating the social factors which clearly have contributed to the level of frustration in which a mother would resort to beating her own child with a machete. Such factors include, a society of absent fathers, high levels of poverty, teenage pregnancy and unemployment and inadequate state support for the most vulnerable in the society. 
Regrettably, as a society there is hardly any line of demarcation as it relates to disciplining a child and child abuse. The abuses many parents inflict on their children in the name of discipline has become culturally acceptable in many quarters and this has allowed many instances of child abuse to go unnoticed and unreported. Culturally, there is a widely held belief that parents cannot grow a child up without applying some form of corporal punishment.  Indeed it is from Proverbs again, this time chapter 23:13 that I draw reference,  “withhold not correction from the child, for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die” that undoubtedly, many Jamaicans take their cue as they try to curb maladaptive behaviours in their children.  In many our homes there is an absence of fathers and this ‘single- parentness’ adds to the levels of frustration a significant numbers of mothers experience on a daily basis. Regardless, of whether one is a parent or not one can surmise how difficult it is for both parents to raise a child; it is even more challenging for a single parent to do so with the support of a spouse of extended family. It is common place for many parents to beat a child with the first object that is closest to them, this is especially so for rural areas. Another cultural factor which contributes greatly to our children being abused is the culture of silence which has become almost a badge of honour in many communities.   Most disturbingly is the allegation that the person who made the video is a family member.
Legislation for the Protection of Children
It bares thought that for too many Jamaicans there is a disconnect between the Child Care & Protection Act and their reality in child rearing and the process of socialization. Under the Child Care and Protection Act (2004) Section 6 ii, an individual can be fined up to $500,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both for failure to report child abuse.  However, regardless of this many adults are complicit in acts of child abuse which allows the perpetrators to go unpunished while scaring the child permanently. Globally, children are protected by the Convention of the Rights of the Child. This Convention guarantees minimum standards for the protection of children against discrimination, protection and abuse.  These rights can be broadly classified into three sections. These are; Provision Rights which include the right to receive or have access to a name, nationality, education, healthcare, rest, care and play for the disabled and orphan. Protection Rights; which outlines the right to be shielded from harmful acts and practices, for example, the right to be protection from commercial and sexual exploitation. Last but by no means least, the Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasizes Participation Rights, these include the child’s right to be heard, for example, freedom of speech and opinion.   In spite of popular belief, to the contrary children do have rights and these rights must be enforced and protected.     
The Way Forward
There is clearly a need for the society to revisit our parenting practices and skills in a society which is arguably a violent place to raise children. This mother clearly needs help not only in her questionable parenting skills set, but in practical terms of providing adequately for her children. The parish of St. Thomas is one of the poorest with little or no major economic activity. This adds a sense of hopelessness and invariably frustration which disturbingly, many parents act out on their children. The State agencies need to mobilize themselves, agencies such as the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) urgently needs to so community development in and around the community to address among other issues the removal of zinc fence from where the individuals reside.  The church also needs to do some more social outreach programme in communities such as Bath, in St. Thomas.
The National Parenting Support Commission also has a huge role to play, not only in this instance but in the wider society where bad parenting skills have not been exposed on social media but have become embedded and acceptable in many quarters.
Evidently we will be having this conversation for quite a while, let us not lose focus on the victim, she will clearly require long time counseling and psycho social support.  A conscious and concerted effort must be made to break the culture and cycle of child abuse.  The fact that the incident of the child’s abuse was captured on social media it is very likely that she will become a target for bullying in the future from her peers. As a result, guidance counsellors should be dispatch to her school immediately to sensitize the students about the negative effects of bullying, such as suicidal thoughts.   Furthermore, the Education Act must be quickly revised to include a total ban on corporate punishment which is still being administered in some schools. Perhaps the way forward in this situation is not to imprison the mother. Maybe, this incident will be the one to awaken the society’s collective responsibility regarding child rearing which from all indications have gone dormant.  We all need to examine ourselves.     
“One knee does not bring up a child”- Tanzania Proverb
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
#socialmedia #parenting #childabuse #poverty #education #family #culture #teenagepregnancy #bullying

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Garbage Collection Policy

“We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”-Native American Proverb
Have you ever felt abandoned? That is exactly how many residents in Zone 14 in the corporate area felt over the last three weeks as they waited patiently to have their garbage collected by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA). The issues regarding the regular collection of garbage and solid waste management have been plaguing the society for a long time. Regrettably, despite the numerous attempts at finding solutions to this developmental issue, all such attempts have fallen short. The citizenry continues to be inconvenienced while the potential for a public health outbreak looms over the society. The State has a primary responsibility to remove garbage and to do so regularly.  Additionally, the disposal of solid waste must be done in a timely and environmentally friendly manner. Successive governments have not been able to effectively and efficiently manage this very critical sector. The issue clearly is one of resources. It appears from all indication that we do not have enough trucks to adequate cover the corporate area. There is an apparent backlog at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) regarding garbage collection since prior to this latest delay the NSWMA was for the most part sticking to its weekly schedule. The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) also needs to pay some attention to updating its website regarding the persons who are listed as being in charge for the various zones.  Interestingly, a number of the individuals who are listed on the website are either no longer working at the company or have been reassigned to other zones.  
Sustainable Development Goals
We clearly have not made the connection with sustainable development and having a clean city as well as a healthy population. In order to make our cities safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable the society must ensure that we implement mechanisms to facilitate the safe, regular removal of garbage and disposal of solid waste.  Jamaica is a signatory to the September 25, 2015, United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. The SDG’s are a set of goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all as a way forward for an agenda on sustainable development to transform our world.  The 17 sustainable development goals have 169 associated targets with a 2030 deadline in which they should be implemented. Sustainable Development Goal #11, target 11.6., clearly addresses garbage collection “by 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management”. Target 11:6:1 states “proportion of urban solid waste regularly collected and with adequate final discharge out of total urban solid waste generated, by cities”.  
The Way Forward
The society needs a heighten sense of environmental consciousness in order to ensure the authorities so what they are tasked to do. When garbage is not collected in a timely manner, some residents are tempted to burn same. This then adds another level to the problem. We cannot continue to destroy our environment. What about employing some environmental wardens? These individuals could act as liaison persons between communities and agents of the state responsible for protecting the environment.  As we commemorate the 145th anniversary of Kingston being designated as the capital of Jamaica I make this appeal to the National Solid Waste Management Authority to add some sense of urgency with regards to the regular collection of garbage not for only for Zone 14 but for the wider Kingston Metropolitan Area.  In the powerful and timely words of Jimmy Carter, "Solid wastes" are the discarded leftovers of our advanced consumer society. This growing mountain of garbage and trash represents not only an attitude of indifference toward valuable natural resources, but also a serious economic and public health problem”. We need a national policy regarding garbage collection and solid waste disposal and the environment. Until we foster a culture in which we realize that it takes a collaborative effort involving civil society, the State and citizens we will continue to have problems. We have obviously dropped the ball; the time is now for us to take seriously our role and responsibility in protecting our environment.
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
#garbagecollection #environment #sustainabledevelopment #solidwaste #Kingston #publichealth #airquality #pollution #culture

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Globalization and Higher Education

“Globalization is not a monolithic force but an evolving set of consequences-some good, some bad and some unintended. It is the new reality”. - John B. Larson
The Faculty of Humanities and Education, School of Education had its Third Biennial Errol Miller Lecture last Thursday, September 14, 2017 at the UWI Regional Headquarters.  A number of luminaries in the fields of education, politics and religion and well-wishers braved the inclement weather to attend the address to honour the work of scholar and educator, Professor Errol Miller. Miller is perhaps best known for his research on Men at Risk and Marginalization of the Black Male. Miller, who is a  former president of the Jamaica Teachers Association, is often described as a trail-blazer in the field of education. He is the first graduate of both the University of the West Indies Masters and PhD in Education programme as well as the first Chancellor of the Mico University College. Miller’s work and research has taken him to the Caribbean where he was instrumentally in projects, such as, Pillars of Partnership and Progress, for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the USAID-funded Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Teacher Training (CCETT). In an informative and thought-provoking speech, guest lecturer Ambassador, Dr. Richard Bernal, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs, UWI, Mona, spoke on the topic of “Globalization of Higher Education”. The discourse surrounding the origin of globalization has sparked numerous debates over the years. The World Bank identifies three ‘waves’ of globalization. The first began in 1870 and ended at the beginning of World War 1 in 1914. This phase was characterized by a reduction in trade barriers and has improvements in transportation technologies, which spurred global migration of approximately ten per cent of the world’s population. The second phase of globalization occurred from 1950-1980 during which numerous trade agreements occurred. This period of world trade agreements was facilitated by the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, the precursor to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The final and current wave of globalization began in 1980 and is defined by the removal of trade barriers.  
Features of Globalization
According to Dr. Bernal, there are seven features of globalization. These he outlined as, an increase in connectivity which has resulted in how people learn and or educated.
Secondly, the dominance of the market, in this area marketing and branding of firms are critical components in an attempt to control as much of the market share as possible. The third feature of globalization according to Bernal sees an intensification of competition whereby companies now operate on a global scale instead of being restricted by geographical borders and boundaries. The fourth feature of globalization is that of tremendous growth in services sector, Bernal made mentioned of tourism and added that higher education should also be viewed as service sector. The fifth feature is that of Economies of Scale, which is really a reduction in cost per unit, resulting from increased production, realized through operational efficiencies.
The sixth feature of globalization is that of Technology, new technologies have increased exponentially over the years due to the demands of globalization and this has change how people view the world and communicate with each other.
Finally, globalization requires a global mentality or approach. There is no way of escaping the impact and effect of globalization unless your mental capacity is tuned into what is happening.   
Proliferation of Higher Education Institutions
According to Bernal there is a huge unmet demand for higher education. He stated that there are some 150 universities and colleges operating in the Caribbean, of which there are 70 medical schools. Offshore medical schools have proliferated over the years in the region. For example, there is the St. Georges Medical School in Grenada and the Ross Medical School in Dominica.
Historically, higher education in Jamaica was confined to Teacher Training Colleges such as Mico, Shortwood, St. Joseph’s, the theological seminaries and the University of the West Indies. However, the 21st century learner due to globalization now has a wider choice regarding where to access tertiary level education. The modes of delivery of education have also changed over the years. The rapid rise of the internet and social media platforms have seen a shift from face to face interaction to an infusion of new technologies. Dr. Bernal informed the audience that there are now 66 universities offering online courses in the Caribbean. It comes as no surprise then that tertiary level students are now demanding and require much more from their experience at college. It has become commonplace for most universities to offer students an option of studying at another university for a semester or two to enrich their education experience.      
In his presentation, Bernal mentioned that the global market for higher education continues to see growth and that by 2020 this will be US$20 billion dollars industry. Interestingly, he said, there are some 300 million university students who are seeking higher education which some 20,000 universities to choose from.
According to research done by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and published in the 2016 Economic and Social Survey Jamaica, gross enrolment at the tertiary level is at 27.6 per cent. Prior to 1986, the University of the West Indies was the only degree granting higher education institution in Jamaica. However, with an increase in private higher education the percentage of Jamaicans who now have access to higher education continues to increase. The flexibility of tuition payments, as well as, the timetabling of courses has added greater appeal of private higher education institutions. A significant number of the students who seek higher education are employed full-time and therefore institutions must consider this fact in catering to their needs. Additionally, there is a widely held view by many that higher education provides for better paying jobs and career opportunities. The Jamaican employee must be mindful that he or she faces competition from qualified non-nationals for local jobs more so in this third wave of globalization.   
The World University Rankings 2018
According to Times Higher Education (THE) the top universities in the world are based in the United Kingdom. In 2016, the University of Oxford became the first university outside the United States of American to top the Times Higher Education World University rankings since they began in 2003. The top universities are University of Oxford (UK), University of Cambridge (UK), rounding off the top five are California Institute of Technology and Stanford University both tied at number three and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Interestingly, the top Asian universities continue to rise. Asia’s best university, the University of Singapore has a ranking of 22nd. The universities of Peking and Tsinghua are ranked 27th and 30th respectively. It is noteworthy that the rankings are based on assessments across teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. A greater emphasis on research is needed at both our public and private education institutions in Jamaica if it is our higher education institutions tend to place prominently on the ranking of colleges and universities.  As the demand for higher education increases we must ensure that our students are not swindled out of their hard earned money. Students also must make certain that the degrees they pursue are accredited by the University Council of Jamaica. Our students must also arm themselves with the necessary information to safeguard their interest as they pursue higher education. The Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC) is a regulatory and supervisory body for the tertiary sector and provides a critical service for tertiary level students. The Commission is mandated to investigate complaints and queries regarding tertiary institutions, their programmes and operation, as well as, maintaining an-up-to date register of local and international institutions operating in the Jamaican space. The Caribbean is relatively small, however, and undoubtedly the reason that Dr. Bernal, has called for a Trans Caribbean Cluster regarding higher education to reduce cost and increase productivity as the way forward. This idea of clusters regarding higher education is not new and has worked successfully in other regions, such as in the European Union. However, there are some who will argue how viable such a cluster will be given our cultural nuances in the Caribbean. It bares thought that if as a region we are unable to implement The Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME), or work towards regional integration what guarantees there are that a Caribbean cluster of higher education will work. It is left to be seen whether the Caribbean region will take on Bernal’s suggestion.
In the words of Charles B. Rangel, “Encouragement of higher education for our youth is critical to the success of our collective future”.
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
#education #highereducation #globalization #Caribbean #youth #regionalism #culture #development

Friday, 15 September 2017

Pet-Friendly Hurricane Shelters

Jamaica’s geographical location makes the island not only prone to hurricanes but also earthquakes. We must come to grips with this reality, a truth in which the State will be called upon to provide more shelters as the intensity of hurricanes increases due to global warming and climate change. Our ever expanding collection of unplanned settlements, mainly due to the inability to afford home, clearly put the citizenry at particular risks. The time has come for the society to invest in constructing shelters in each parish instead of using schools which often leaves these educational institutions in a state of despair after the evacuees leave for home. Additionally, the State also needs to ensure that some of the public shelters are pet- friendly. In many instances people are forced to leave their pets at home not knowing how long they will be holed up in a shelter or who will care for their pets during their absence.
Benefits of Having a Pet
Research indicates that there are numerous benefits of having a pet around. These include a boost in one’s mood. It only takes a few minutes with your favourite pet for you to feel calmer and less stressed. Time spent with your pet will see a lowering of cortisol, and an increase in serotonin, a good feeling chemical in your body. Having a pet also contributes to lowering of one’s blood pressure. People with pets tend to have better cholesterol levels and triglycerides than owners of pets.
Last, but not least, we need to have a mandatory evacuation policy for those individuals who live in flood prone areas as well as those who are homeless. Oftentimes, the homeless are not given any consideration during time of natural disasters, this is rather inhumane and troubling, and we need to make right this wrong.

Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo  

Sunday, 10 September 2017

World Suicide Prevention Day

“Hope is a necessity for normal life and the major weapon against the suicide impulse”- Karl A. Menninger
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 800,000 people die annually due to suicide.  The WHO reports that in 2015 suicide was the second leading cause of death among the 15-29 year old population. Unfortunately, as depression in the society increases it is very likely there will be more attempts at suicide. Research also points to an association between suicide and mental disorders. The rate of suicide is also high among vulnerable groups which experience discrimination, such as, refugees and migrants, indigenous peoples, lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and those who are incarcerated. Suicide in men has been described as a "silent epidemic", epidemic because of its high incidence and substantial contribution to men's mortality. Males are particularly at risk at taking their lives due to how they are socialized to be macho. This macho-induced model of socialization often runs counter to the perception of maleness and masculinity and prevents men from seeking the necessary help and or support in working out personal and relational issues which oftentimes are at the root of suicide. According to statistics Jamaica recorded 53 cases of suicide in 2012 and 52 cases in 2013.  Jamaica’s 2.6 suicidal rate of per 100,000 of the population is considered relatively low; however, this does not mean that we should not continue to highlight this social problem by raising awareness regarding the issue of suicide which also impacts the families of those who take their lives.  Other countries in the Western Hemisphere have varying suicidal rates; Guyana’s suicide rate for males is 46.0 and 15.5 among the female population.  Cuba’s suicidal rate is 17.0 per 100, 000 of the population for males and 4.2 for females. According to the WHO, 78% of global suicides occur in low and middle-income countries. Suicide knows no borders, educational levels, nationality and religion.  
Suicide is a complex issue and as a result suicide prevention requires not only the health sector to address this problem, but suicide prevention necessitate a collaborative approach across multiple sectors to include, education, the church, labour, agriculture and the media.  In response to the global challenge suicide poses it is important that we pause on the 15th anniversary of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday, September 10 to raise consciousness of the complexities surrounding suicide and provide support through community based actions to those who feel burnt or stressed out.

Signs of Depression
A colleague of mine who suffers from mild depression shared some thoughts with me while I did this article. He told me of some of the signs he experiences. “Not excited about things you normally love, being withdrawn, neglecting family and friends, moody, as well as cant get out of bed”. My colleague who I will call Mr. O, added, “people need to know and realize suicide is associated with mental illness but we are not mad people”. He went to say “families need to know signs of depression which can lead to suicide. They need to know how to deal with the family members and friends. They need not to ignore the signs but try to help”. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide means many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help.
In closing Mr. O lamented the lack of support in the society for those who suffer from depression. “Organizations that deal with mental illness need to mek more noise, we need to hear from them”.
The Way Forward
In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, the ninth suicide seminar was held at the Jamaica Conference Center on Friday, September 8. The seminar is a collaborative effort by Choose Life International, the Mental Health Department of the Ministry of Health and the Social Welfare Training Center at the University of the West Indies. The event is free to the public. Suicide is a serious public health problem and is also preventable.  It is important to note that suicide is among the proposed indicators of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. We oftentimes forget to realize that our physical health is dependent upon our mental health. The Ministry of Health should consider establishing a mental health crisis hotline to offer counselling services. The government also needs to embark on a public education campaign to underscore the importance of mental health, as well as, to inform the public of the agencies and resources available to treat mental health. As a society we need to foster a culture of collective responsibility whereby individuals feel a sense of well-being and comfort in seeking help for their mental state. We need to be more attentive to family members and friends, as well as, we need to pay more attention to our own mental health. The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is “Life is precious, celebrate life”. We all have a role to play in preventing suicide, one life lost to suicide is one too many. “When you feel like giving up, just remember the reason you held on for so long”-Unknown
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


Friday, 8 September 2017

International Literacy Day

“Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere”-Mary Schmich
September 8th was proclaimed International Literacy Day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the 14th session of UNESCO General Conference in 1966.  The aim of such an important day is to highlight the challenges people face across the globe regarding literacy issues, as well as to bring awareness of literacy not only to individuals but to societies and communities. Alarmingly, more than 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills. The lack of literacy skills among the global population also has a sex disaggregate component since women account for two- thirds of those who are illiterate.  According to the United Nations the global youth literacy number stands at 103 million, with more than 60 per cent of that figure being women.  
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 addresses the issue of inclusive and quality education for all the promotion of lifelong learning. However, in spite of this fact many societies are struggling to eradicate illiteracy. Literacy is the ability to use printed and written information to function in society. Literacy provides us with the ability to achieve our personal goals, as well as, develop our knowledge and skills set. Literacy is critical to the economic and social development of a society more so in a globalized world. The theme for International Literacy Day 2017 is “Literacy in a Digital World”.
According to Dr. Grace- Camille Munroe in a newspaper interview stated that Jamaica’s adult literacy rate is at 87 per cent. Our state agencies and indeed the education system have done tremendous work in getting us to this place; however, Jamaica still lags behind some of her Caribbean neighours, such as, Cuba and Barbados regarding 100 per cent literacy. There is obviously much more work to be done to ensure 100 per cent literacy among the adult population.
Unfortunately, many of schools, both government and private do not have a library, and those schools which are so fortunate to a library; many are without the services of a librarian due to budgetary constraints. 
Digital Literacy
The 21st leaner is a feature of the digital community and many of our students have access to smart phones, as well computer devices such as Tablets. In fact the Government of Jamaica has a Tablet in Schools (TIS) Project. The project is a partnership between the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining and the Ministry of Education.  The implementation of the project is being done by the E-Learning Jamaica Company Limited and the Universal Service Fund (USF) in which Tablets will be distributed to a number of educational intuitions to include teachers colleges. 
Barriers to Literacy
The main barrier to Jamaica achieving a 100 per cent literacy level is our inability to develop and promote a reading culture. The Jamaican society is very much an oral society which is clearly a feature of our African heritage. While we should not discount our predisposition for oral history we also need to encourage our citizenry to document and read. Additionally, there is culture which dictates to boys that reading is anti-masculine and sadly, this sub-culture, which is reinforced by popular culture, has turned off many of our boys from education in general and reading in particular.  This lack of motivation for reading must be addressed with a sense of urgency. Disturbingly, 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. It is almost as if manhood and masculinity have been hijacked by a thug culture far removed from education.
Promote Literacy
It seems to me that every opportunity to focus on the written word should be greatly promoted across the length and breadth of our island. The reading process begins long before the child enters the formal education system. In fact emergent literacy begins in the womb at the point of conception. I dare say that a literate society safeguards the well-being of all its citizens. It is clear that, without the ability to read, comprehend and interpret, the student of today, who will form the workforce of tomorrow, will not be able to compete for the better-paying jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The society needs to find means and ways to redouble its efforts and put in the necessary resources to ensure that no child leaves school unable to read.

In the words of President Bill Clinton “Literacy is not a luxury; it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens.”
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



Saturday, 26 August 2017

Male Teacher Marginalization

There are many issues which the society and indeed schools must come to terms with in order to improve students outcome, as well as to inspire confidence in the leadership of our schools. The rarely discussed issue of male teacher marginalization is very much problematic and is intricately linked to the marginalization of the black male. In fact noted Professor of Teacher Education Errol Miller in his classical work “Marginalization of the Black Male” describes Caribbean societies as having men in marginal positions in the family. Miller’s research highlights the decreasing participation and performance of males in the education system.  In defining marginal, Miller states “marginal is meant not being holders of the reins of power in society, possessing little of the wealth of the society; a sense of being inferior in social status, having a belief system which justifies domination by others”. Miller’s Theory of Place underpins his theory of Male Marginalization. Miller asserts that society is organized on the basis of the place. For Miller, “place” is the position that one gender holds in the society in relation to the other. Therefore, as men move to the periphery of the society, women move to the center or to central positions in the society. According to Miller there are five factors or dimensions responsible for this entity of the place. These are power, resources, status, beliefs and culture. Miller stated an equalitarian society can never be achieved in reality and thus relative inequality is society’s reality. Miller asserts that at any particular moment in time individuals and groups in society will be more central and others more marginal.  The tendency in education circle is one of forgetfulness surrounding the fact that a significant sub-group of the workforce in our schools continues to be marginalized. A growing number of male educators are of the view that female leadership in many of our educational institutions continue to ignore, sideline and show contempt for the concerns of male members of the academic staff.  In fact some male educators are of the opinion that many male teachers are emasculated by an education system and profession which have become feminized. It can be argued that this weakening of the male teacher is being done in a deliberate and systematic manner to wrestle power and prestige from males who historically were the power brokers in most Western societies. This male hegemony in the teaching profession can clearly trace its roots to the emancipation of slavery in 1838 when a number of teacher training colleges were established. However, by 1850 all these teacher training institutions became all male institutions. On the other hand, it can be argued that some male teachers are willing participants regarding the emasculation of their kind. Recently, a colleague referred to the issue of male teacher marginalization as “baggy power”. In defining the term “baggy power” my colleague who works at the primary level of the education system opined that there are too many females as principals and this he adds invariably will lead to conflict with male teachers. While there are some who will raise objection to the term “baggy power” the terminology “baggy power” should not be viewed as sexist or misogynistic. My colleague lamented the need for us not to be so politically correct at times, this he adds result in the message being conveyed  becoming diluted. Men and women tend to excel at different aspects of leadership. Female leaders tend to hold onto and carry grudges and are often emotional, while male leadership on the other tends to be strategic. The issue in my view is not about the number of female versus male principals; it is much deeper than numbers and is rooted in a social psychology of respect. There are basically two types of respect, respect that comes to you based on your position, fame or wealth. This type of respect is impermanent and can be lost once you lose your wealth or status. The other type of respect is derived because of one’s virtues, such as honesty, kindness, patience and commitment. Clearly, the society needs to embrace and engender a culture of gender equality in all spheres of the public and private sector; however, we cannot and should not cuddle a culture of crudeness and disrespect at the same time. I am fully aware that there are some female principals who overstep their reach and authority in an attempt to control male teachers; however, this is usually to the detriment of their institution and of their stewardship. Unfortunately, we live in a society where gender relations are not taken seriously. Sadly, this area of cultural studies is often relegated to the domain of the academic halls of universities where less than twenty percent of the Jamaican population are privileged to pass through. However, the stark reality is that in the workplace both sexes are required to work in unison to achieve the organizational goals and targets of the institution. As a result, more emphasis and training should be given to leaders at both the private and public sectors in the dynamics of gender relations and how this impacts the wider society. Disturbingly, in many instances there are female principals who speak down to male teachers as if they are addressing their children or reprimanding a student. This “boyification” attitude by some female principals is quite out of order and sends the wrong message not only to the males on staff but also to the students at the school. Students are rather perceptive and lead can lead to some form of disrespect towards male teachers based on the principal’s behaviour.  Our boys too also require positive male role models and in many instances male teachers are denied promotion for no particular reason. Too often we have heard of instances whereby male teachers are reprimanded in the public domain, ignoring protocol with the main aim clearly to embarrass the teacher. It is a weak and insecure principal who takes this approach and the time has come for this to stop. This dichotomy of power and power relations is not exclusive to the education system; however, this should be of little comfort to those male teachers who are voiceless due to fear of malice by those in leadership. The adage respect begets respect is most appropriate and should be woven in the culture of every school. Additionally, there is a deficit of trust in many schools and inevitably the school culture becomes toxic and as a result students pay a high price for the weak and vindictive leadership in so many of our schools.  The issue of marginality is not a new phenomenon.
Origin of Marginality
The concept of marginality first appeared in the field of sociology in the early 20th century and has acquired a multiplicity of meanings. According to sociologist, Janet Billson, there are various types of marginality. She identifies three types; cultural marginality, structural marginality and social marginality.  Billson posit the view that cultural marginality is determined by race, ethnicity and religion as well as other cultural indicators. On the other hand, social marginality occurs when an individual is not considered part of a positive reference group owing to factors such as age, situational constraints or occupational role. Billson adds that structural marginality results from the political, social and economic powerlessness of specific disadvantaged groups in societies.   
Male Identity Crisis
The Jamaican male for the most part sees his identity in his sexual prowess and his ability to father children. This skewed version of manhood and masculinity anchored in a state of phallocentrism and patriarchy is reinforced almost daily in the pop culture, especially dancehall music.
“I born as a bedroom bully
Bedroom bully fi di gyal pickiny
I born as a bedroom bully
Bedroom bully gal a wine up fi mi
Real top gyallis man a bedroom bully”
The above lyrics from dancehall artiste Busy Signal, clearly captures the sentiments of the construction of masculinity in the Jamaican context.  It is quite evident that the construction of Jamaican masculinity for the most part rests on the sexual objectification of women. Ironically, women are the main supporters of dancehall artistees whose music is steeped into this form of male identity and manhood. Interestingly, there are other forms of masculinities which have separated from this hegemonic form. However, males who subscribe to these marginal masculinities often run into problems and must endure the harassment in having their sexual orientation questioned. See below the lyrics of a popular dancehall song
Buddy Bruka-Aidonia
Nuh boring gyal
Boring gyal
No man nuh want no boring gyal
Cyah fu@k boring gal
You see my gyal?
She can skin out!
Gyal you ah buddy brucka.
As the debate rages regarding boys’ underachievement there are a number of schools of thought. Firstly, there are those who claim that boy’s underachievement is a direct result of the emphasis that has been placed on girls and women. These shifts of resources both material and human have contributed to a significant number of males falling through the cracks of an elist education system. The development of human resources requires a more gender-sensitive approach in order to maximize the best outcomes for both sexes. Secondly, there are those who locate the problem in relation to wider social changes and how this impacts males, particularly adolescent makes with regards to their view of masculinity and schooling. There needs to be a more concerted effort in making education more appealing to boys. Research has shown that boys learn differently from girls and are more interested in hands-on and interactive methods of instruction. Undoubtedly, male under-participation in the education system is linked to the gender socialization. Gender socialization traditionally affords more privilege to males and thus promotes male hegemony.  This gendered approach to socialization gives boys less exposure to those skills set which instill self-discipline, time management and promote an interest in academic attainment.
Towards A Gender Transformative Approach
Schools are the primary agents of socialization in many if not all societies.
It is debatable that the overreach of feminism in the education system is already having a negative impact on male students. It is not wise nor is it healthy to hide under the cloak of feminism to subdue the natural competitive tendencies of boys and turn them into “half men”. It is therefore critical to remind ourselves that outside of the need to empower our students in literacy and numeracy skills, our schools are responsible to reproduce the status quo of the society. The state of the construction of masculinity is at a crossroads, what is required is a healthy state of masculinity. It is imperative that our boys see positive role models in our male teachers in which to emulate.  Regrettably, the view regarding the construction of Jamaican and Caribbean masculinity is a negative one and by extension the society cannot afford to accommodate any further instances to add to the marginalization of male teachers within the education system. The issue of male underachievement in our educational institutions is cause for concern and must be deconstructed. There is much division among male educators and this invariably plays into the hands of female principalship aimed at the marginalization of the male educator. Additionally, our culture of homophobia and transphobia also contribute to the situation of division of male educators to work together to address concerns relating to them. As a male once you lose respect for and confidence in the leadership of your school it is clearly a sign, not necessarily from above to part ways. The way forward to create better working conditions in our schools for both sexes will require all stakeholders to voice their honest opinions at arriving at more gender neutral policies. The time has also come for male teachers to have their own association to advocate on issues which are of concern to them.  The days of “holding down” the male teacher has passed. We need to re-socialize the society, especially since the workplace is a shared space requiring of us to get along with each other, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, sex, political persuasion or social class. We must put aside our personality differences in order to adequately address the needs of our students.
In the powerful words of Hillary Clinton, let’s continue stand up for those who are vulnerable to being left out or marginalized.
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
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