Tue | Jul 14, 2020

Men say sex strike will cause opposite effect

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2020 | 12:00 AMDanae Hyman/Gleaner Writer
Dr. Leith Dunn

Despite gender activists calling for females to withhold sexual favours in a bid to curtail violence against women in Jamaica, some men have reported that such a protest might have the opposite effect.

Trinidad and Tobago writer and gender advocate Nazma Muller first proposed the sex strike based on a wave of spousal violence in her country, urging women via her social-media pages to “starve men into submission”.

Professor Opal Palmer Adisa, university director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at The University of the West Indies, Mona, also agreed that ‘locking shop’ would be a good strategy for putting women’s rights on the front burner and ceasing gender-based violence.

However, when The Gleaner spoke with some men in Kingston recently, the majority responded that given the current climate in Jamaica, if women withheld sex, that could potentially lead to them facing more abuse.

“It nah go work if you’re holding out on a man that is already abusive. If the woman them say them a hold out, man after a while not going to can hold it. “Them already have a mindset, so them a go either just rape or do something, and just abuse the woman them more,” a security guard who identified himself as Dwayne McKellar said.

INCREASE IN RAPE

Numerous other men also shared that if women tried to starve men of sex, there would be an increase in the number of rape cases reported in Jamaica.

Palmer Adisa, however, said that any man who would draw the conclusion that because of women denying sex, rape cases will increase, needs to check themselves.

According to her, a sex strike is not intended to be a punishment for men, but for them to understand what the implications of their actions are, and to eventually act as allies for women.

“It speaks to the fact that men think they have a right to sex and the woman’s body. It speaks to the very core of the patriarchal doctrine that women are simply property to be used. What supposedly good men are saying is, if I can’t get anything, I’m going to take it; and what does that make you? It says you have no control,” Palmer Adisa stated.

LEARNT TOOL

In the meantime, gender advocate Leith Dunn said unlike her other counterparts, she disagrees with the proposal of a sex strike to address the problem of gender-based violence and intimate-partner violence.

According to the activist, violence against women is a learnt tool, so instead of a strike that could potentially exaggerate the issue, new forms of parenting and social skills that promote mutual respect and equality in personal relationships should be taught to boys.

“Most perpetrators of GBV (gender-based violence) are men. Interventions such as the Brothers for Change programme, introduced by the Jamaica Family Planning Association and the Department of Correctional Service many years ago, promoted behaviour change among men and reduced incidents of GBV.

“The programme could be replicated by men’s groups in faith-based organisations, civil-society and community groups to change violent behaviour,” Dunn said.

“Public- and private-sector institutions also need to address GBV as a workplace problem that undermines productivity and well-being.”

Providing what he said could be a solution, a Kingstonian man, who asked not to be named, said one way for abuse against women to decrease in Jamaica is getting all females enrolled in self-defence classes.

“Once you show fear to a dog, him will attack you; but if you stand up strong, him will leave you alone. It’s the same for women and men. If women weren’t as scared and get trained to defend themselves, then whenever a man tried to get physical with them, they would just hold their stance and fight back,” the elderly man said.

The advocacy comes amid national outrage over a slew of killings of women, including the New Year’s Eve slaying of a Manchester woman by her supervisor partner, the murder-suicide by a Jamaica Defence Force corporal in Portmore, and a savage knife homicide in the quiet St Elizabeth district of Brinkley, presumably by an estranged lover.

danae.hyman@gleanerjm.com