I think it’s fair to say that all Jamaican women have been catcalled at least once in their life. It’s just a normal part of street culture- see a pretty girl, and as a male you can’t resist saying (or yelling) a compliment her way.
I’m sure Jamaican ladies would agree with me with this – Jamaican men are very confident, sometimes even overconfident. They don’t let their height, weight, or the fact that they’re wearing a suit caked in cement or motor oil stop them from sending a “hey beautiful!”your way.
I’m sure most of us have seen social experiments on YouTube showing men catcalling women, especially in the New York area. The plot typically features an attractive woman walking around for 10 hours (whew!) and a hidden camera picks up footage of various men hitting on her. The moral of these social experiments is to raise awareness to “street harassment”, to show what women experience on a day-to-day basis. Ok. I see the point of this, that is, you just want to go about your day and not be bothered. But realistically, if you’re going to walk in crowded city for 10 hours and you look attractive, then expect to get catcalled. It’s pretty normal.
Also ladies (and gentlemen), there is a big difference between a compliment and harrassment. For example, “Good morning. You’re looking lovely today”. This is a compliment. As females, we take the time to do our hair, put our clothes together and spray on our signature scents, so it shouldn’t be too bad for a male to compliment us. Now, of course, this is just personal hygiene, and we don’t practice this for the sole sake of attracting a man, at least not me anyway. Suppose he were to continue by saying, “Can I have a minute of your time please?” Up to this point, he is still being polite. But God forbid you say “No” and he persists and starts to walk you down. This is where it turns into harassment. Men, I’m going to just say it – it nuh look good.
Especially if you touch her.
Fellas, it’s possible to flirt with a lady without touching her. I remember a friend telling me a shocking experience. She was waiting on a Papine/Campus taxi stand beside the Nelson Mandela Park in Half-Way-Tree, Saint Andrew. A lady was walking through the park wearing a pair of black leggings, which, of course, showed off her “merchandise”. A taxi driver lost no time in walking very close beside her, trying to whisper in her ear. She proceeds to ignore him. Then, out of nowhere, he groped her crotch and yelled back to his friend, “Mi did afi si if dat riil” (I had to see if that was real). Oh. My. Goodness. There were mixed reactions amongst bystanders. Some laughed, mostly the taxi drivers. Some looked on in disgust, while others looked away, apparently in a mix of shock and shame. But no one said anything to the man. No one came to her defense. Utterly embarrassed, She hung her head and walked away. And I don’t want to hear that she was “asking for it” by wearing those leggings. Nothing, and I mean nothing, should justify sexual harassment. Do not feel entitled to believe just because a woman is wearing a particle article of clothing, means you’re entitled to touch her.
Jamaican women are treated as sexual objects, taken advantage of in society by entitled men, while no one says anything about it. It is even normalized in the media, in many dancehall songs. Why, five years ago there was a song encouraging females to “walk like a dog” (I don’t even want to complete the title) by recording artiste Radijah. This is degrading in every sense of the word. Yet, if a female was to make a song about the same thing to a man, she would receive backlash. And let’s not forget that two years ago, Ishawna exposing the double standards of Jamaican men by producing her ‘Equal Rights’ song. She even got death threats for singing about this. But everyone seemed to forget the plethora of songs by male DJs such as Vybz Kartel and Alkaline about the same issue, which nobody bats an eyelash to. Double standards in every sense of the word.
Male entitlement goes as far as men being abusive in their relationships. Some men expect they are going to be the only male their partner speaks to, getting overly jealous when she as much as smiles at another man. These abusive men need to realize the do NOT own anyone. You are NOT going to be the only male contact on her cellular phone. This jealously is the cause of much domestic violence cases in Jamaica. According to a 2018 Jamaica Information Service Article entitled “Nearly 15 per cent of Jamaican Women Experience Violence from a Male Partner”, nearly 15% of all Jamaican women between the ages of 15 and 49 “who have ever been married or partnered have experienced physical or sexual violence from a male partner on in the previous 12 months”. In a public forum at the Saint Andrew based Terra Nova All-Suite hotel about gender based violence (November 21, 2018), Mister of Health, Dr the Honorable Christopher Tufton notes that 3.7% of these women were afraid of what their abuser would do if the were refused sexual intercourse. This issue leads to heightened cases in HIV cases, as these women do not have the upper hand when it comes on to the use of condoms to ensure safe sex, because they are literally being raped.
On much heavier note, this jealousy has resulted in the senseless death of many women, who have been permanently struck down by their jealous male partners, most of them being ex lovers. There was even a case of a woman having acid thrown in her face by her ex partner. She was beautiful, and he could not bear any other man looking at her. This woman moved on with her life, moved out of his house, and still he could not get over her. His feelings of entitlement led to her life never being the same again.
To be fair, these men that kill their lovers have mental issues, and do not represent the majority of Jamaican men. But how many times do you hear in the news of women being the ones killing their ex lovers out of jealousy? And they call us crazy.
Truth be told, although it may not intend to cause physical harm, catcalling most of the times is unwanted – we just want to be left alone. If we ignore you, then take it as a sign to stop, and respect our personal space. And what’s worse, if you and a male is walking on the street together, it is out of respect for the man (not you), that would cause persistent males from catcalling you.
My Jamaican Kings, please treat us like the Queens we are. A lot of you are on the right path, and I just want to say keep it up, someone appreciates you, and sees the efforts you put out. You were raised well. Nothing is wrong to compliment a woman, but don’t feel entitled that she will take accept the compliment. You might be ignored. Move on. And females, nothing is wrong with saying a polite “Thank You” when given a compliment by a well-meaning man on the street. Blessings!