Many people are able to see someone who’s sexually attractive but not let that attraction become evident. Many Jamaican men seem unable to do that. I was headed up the steps to the bank in Mandeville, yesterday, when the crew from an armoured truck came out of the bank. They paused on the top step. One had a machine shotgun in his hand, surveying the street. The other was looking at three women passing by the bottom of the steps. “You’re sweet, eh! Yu know mi like sweet…” Those might not have been his exact words, but that’s what I thought I heard. I turned to the leering guard and told him to focus on protecting the people’s money. He looked at me and smiled, as he trotted down the steps. His mate looked at me and said “He should.” From what I hear and read that’s a fairly common incident on Jamaican streets. I saw similar the day before, with some young men in a truck looking down at a young lady as they waited at some traffic lights. Not surprisingly, many women seem mightily fed up with this dog with tongue hanging out treatment on a daily basis. Jamaican men have not morphed into more respectful specimens. This never made it into my lunchtime conversation with Kevin O’Brien Chang, but it can go on the docket as part of the people’s evidence. We talked about other things, including how Europe and Asia have a problem replacing their populations as birth rates decline. We also touched on how darker peoples tend not to have this problem. Do the math. Migration has for a long time been part of the solution to this imbalance, but that’s facing lots of resistance in a recession-hit world. But, we focused on something else: what are women really up to in Jamaica and what is myth versus reality? Recent reports have flagged how Jamaica is not what people like to posit. Women are not full underdogs. It seems that Jamaica is the mostly likely country where women would be found in charge as manager. Who says so? The respected International Labor Organization does, reporting that just under 60 percent of management is female. What?! The USA has a mere 43 percent.
The ILO found that most (80) of the countries surveyed (120) showed an increase in the proportion of women managers. The ILO see this as the biggest driver in world growth and competitiveness. That contention is a bit awkward for Jamaica. It’s been mired in decades of stagnation. So what have those women managers been doing at the helm of the workforce? It doesn’t seem that we’ve benefited from the dynamism that leadership is supposed to bestow. The picture may now get even more awkward. If women are leading how can men be the problem? Our politicians are predominantly men but what do they really control and run? Can the influence of the political sphere swamp that of the economic? If you go with the contention that Jamaican women are also the best at realizing their sexual power, then that, in conjunction with management control, can open up some interesting possibilities. The ILO study is not comforting for one of Jamaica’s ongoing narratives, that women need a leg up. To use English parlance, it may be that they’re too busy helping men get a leg over. That could explain our woeful economic productivity rates. We also discussed another recent study, which points to the trend towards people having less sex. That study was by the Japan Family Planning Association. It found that about 50 percent of people were not having sex; the rate is slightly higher for women than men. Not good news for a country worried about a declining birth rate. Why no nooky? Too tired after work was most popular for men, followed by less interest after pregnancy and childbirth. Women were also affected by fatigue after work, but we’re much less interested because they found sex ‘bothersome’. What’s bothersome is a finding that over 1 in 5 young men in Japan are not interested in sex, and that many people have relations with avatars. It was reported a few years ago that relationships with virtual partners were not uncommon in Japan (see a Wall Street Journal 2010 article). Jamaica doesn’t have an equivalent study to Japan. We tend to focus on underage sexual activity, not surprising for a country with a high rate of teen pregnancies. About 40 percent of Jamaican women have been pregnant at least once before the age of 20, and some 85 percent of these are unplanned. We also need to look at the Jamaican management control picture from the optic of what the future holds. We are seeing women taking the vast majority of highly educated places in society as high schools and university show the dominance of female graduates. That seems to lead to only one main conclusion: men won’t have much of a place. Except? Jamaicans are reputedly not like the Japanese. Tired after work? We love to stay up late and have fun. That’s not a clear indication that the “I’m tired” excuse won’t get trotted out in Jamaica. We tend to look at sex as much of a need as a want. But, if women tend to like partners who are at least their peers, and if more Jamaican women are getting highly educated relative to men, then the stock of available desirable men is dwindling. The adage that a Jamaican woman would rather have 10 percent of a 100 percent man than 100 percent of a 10 percent man suggests that sharing can be part of their caring, as a matter of sheer necessity. However, while that suggests that women may have to be satisfied with bits of men, the converse is that eligible men may have ‘too many’ women to deal with. PJ Patterson and his “gyal inna bundle” quip was not twaddle. The analysis of these currents is not simple, but tend to point in certain directions. I’ve said repeatedly that Jamaicans are very rational in their behaviour, and know how to respond to incentives. One issue is which incentives pull them. I’ve also said that Jamaica often seems to be somewhere that the sun sets in the east. Those two things appear to be at odds with each other, but are they? Maybe, we need to think a bit differently about what rationale is really in play. In a world of falling population and dwindling sex drives, should Jamaicans think about exporting what may be their comparative advantages?