Sexuality

Jamaica is a profoundly heterosexist society in which homophobia is widespread. Discrimination and violence against gays and the absence of a gay rights movement characterize dominant Jamaican attitudes toward samesex relations. While lesbianism is decried as well, gay men receive the brunt of virulent homophobic sentiment. While there is somewhat more tolerance among the elite, antihomosexuality is a key aspect of the ideology of heterosexual relations in the drawing of distinct boundaries around acceptable definitions of heterosexual masculinity and femininity.

Children are guided toward gender-appropriate sexuality early on. Adult sexuality is familiar to children, many of whom, particularly in rural and poor urban areas, live in close quarters with adults, sharing the same room or bed where they are exposed to sexual behavior. Parental control over boys' sexuality decreases in adolescence when they are encouraged to seek sexual experiences. By contrast, pubescent girls are guided toward modesty, and control over their sexuality tightens. They are warned about the constant sexual desires of men and the pressure they will receive from them to engage in intercourse. Significant numbers of girls are introduced to sex through rape, which is feared by girls and women.

Children grow up in a sexually paradoxical world, where double standards abound. The church and middle-class morality constrain the sexual expression of women, while sexually explicit lyrics permeate reggae, hip-hop and dance-hall music, referring particularly to women's vaginas as the proper locus of male attention and to chi-chi men as societal scourges. Soft pornographic girly pictures are also rampant in advertising and public spaces. Dance-hall culture, centering on the sexually explicit hip movements of young women, has been adopted by some working-class women as a form of resistance to the constraining respectability of middle-and upper-class values of feminine sexuality. Others view dance-hall as explicitly misogynist (Cooper, 1995).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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