When Men Are First Citizens
I would have kept quiet and stayed out of the argument; I had almost convinced myself that enough responses had come to Mr. Wray’s unfortunate representation of Jamaican men and furthermore I had felt almost overcome by the fact that the Gleaner gave space to Mr. Wray’s hateful, bigoted and sexist ramblings and that other men in Jamaica thought it was acceptable.
As a matter of fact over the last two weeks Mr. Wray’s emotional outburst has been debated and commented on almost continuously. I have a feeling though that much more will be said and needs to be said on the matter of women’s full inclusion in national life. After reading Mr. Thwaites intervention on Sunday, April 6, 2014, I was left with the decided after taste yet again of ‘male privilege’ and I could only conclude that clearly when women ask for a larger portion of the ‘pie’ be it the leadership pie or any other pie, they are certainly going to men on bended knees asking to be looked on favourably. As a matter of fact, I am looking forward to the patriarchy of Gordon House in their response to Sen. Duncan-Price’s intervention. I have a distinct feeling, that there will be significant chiding and serious reprimand because given the fact that more women than men are registered at UWI (male marginalization) women are unreasonable in their request for more.
"Outbreak of Feminism at UWI"
I chuckled at Daniel’s description of ‘an outbreak of feminism’ at the Mona Campus and wondered what the manifestation of that outbreak was. There were other points of amusement in his representation of the current gender debate around political leadership, particularly his rather ‘off-handed’ comment that women if nothing else are better to look at than men as they seek representational space in Gordon House. I suppose when Mr. Thwaites and those like him (men of great wisdom and intelligence) sit to engage in discussion of national importance at least those of us women who invariably have to travel to the ‘kingdom of man, where the seat of power and permission to lead reside’, can rest assured that he will vouch for us because we are after all ‘attractive eye candy’ and if nothing else we bring colour to spaces where those who were endowed with the natural right to rule have ‘real talk’ about matters of national importance. Given the Wray article and other subsequent interventions, including Danny boy’s most-intelligent and gender-sensitive rejoinder, I am firmly reminded that in this society men are considered and consider themselves to be ‘first citizens’ the gender upon whom the responsibility of nation-building, economic success and social progress rest, when women ask for equal space, equal representation, they are in fact challenging the man’s rightful place as first citizens, they are nothing but ‘feminists’ (read terrorists) who are seeking to derail the nation-building train.
So I was not going to say anything, and then ‘baps’ right at my desk appears an article “Old boys’ club ruins Champ Coverage” written by two fresh faced young women; Sherine and Renee who took the media to task for their biased reporting of Boys and Girls Champs. I admire their bravery; their refusing to be silenced in the face of threat of the ‘male backlash’ the ‘old boys’ boys school network. I agree that the media is utterly dismissive of the performance of our young women who out do themselves each year at the ISSA Boys and Girls championship. I wonder if the men ever notice that the girls are barely mentioned and when they are it is with such nonchalance and un-impressiveness that you can sense how pained the men are at having being diverted from ‘important matters’. If you had been watching TVJ for example you would have noticed that all the commentators were men, and not men who are aware of the gendered way they report the happenings, but men who were celebrating the exploits of the boys from ‘Old Hope Road, Red Hills Road, the Hills of Malvern, Heroes Circle or North Street.” Yes Boy’s and Girl’s Champ is a celebration of male exploits and the beauty and talent of our sons, with scant regard for the accomplishment of our daughters, who must suffer the indignity of being treated like second class citizens. But wait, we are used to that and that would not be injustice, because according to The Wray, we are nothing more than second class citizens in this ‘demos’. So if I were to give one word of caution to Sherine and Renee’ it would be, for them to be careful because already Danny Boy, has declared that there is an ‘outbreak of feminism’ at UWI, he might suggest that you get yourself checked. After all girls, what else could
explain this insistence on your part that this most important activity (Boys Champ) should be brought down to this level.
I wondered if Sherine and Renee’ noticed what was happening in School’s Challenge Quiz as well. For some reason, girls are not represented in any significant number in the SCQ. I think St. Hugh’s won in the first year and since then, fifty years later, I think, no other girl school has won and more and more the teams even from co-ed schools are made up entirely of young men. I am wondering if the numbers of women in Parliament, the way Boys and Girls Champ is represented as Boys Champs and young women’s absence from School Challenge Quiz amount to female marginalization. I admire these young women for speaking up, for speaking truth to power, for noticing how women get side-lined and shut down and demanding that better be done.