What it means to be a Jamaican Man

Being a Jamaican man is not an easy task. Just figuring out what is required of you is an enormous, confusing challenge that can take a lifetime. At this point in my life I have learned only enough to know that a Jamaican man is expected, nay, required to meet a variety of contradictory and often onerous stereotypes and failing to meet even one can result in one becoming a social leper.

First and foremost a Jamaican man must not be weak. Strength and virility are prized above all else. This strength and virility is expressed in a number of ways.

Firstly, you must love the ladies. I don’t mean you must like the ladies, you must love them. You must love them like Jesus loved the little children. You must love them by the dozen and by the score. You must love them fat or slim. Tall or short. Black, white, red or brown. You must love them in the morning, at noontime and at night. You must love them in St. Elizabeth, Port Antonio and South Korea. I go further. You must love them even when they don’t love you. You must ignore the fact that you are an overweight, bald, toothless pervert and pursue them with the vigor of a young Casanova.

Let’s be very clear: the ultimate measure of the worth of a Jamaican man is his ability to conquer the fairer sex.

Next, you should have children. The more the better. This, after all, is conclusive proof of your mastery of the opposite sex.  Whether these children are born in or out of wedlock is immaterial. However, if you insist on getting married and having legitimate children, you should have at least have the decency to have one or two outside the marriage... just to demonstrate that, having gotten married, you are still the lady-killer you were before getting married. Never mind that this will entail great expense and result in tense, complicated arrangements with the mothers of your offspring; your credentials as a “gyallis” will be cemented. If you can manage to have two women pregnant at the same time this is ideal. Any public utterances of disapproval will be balanced by the sly winks and knowing chuckles at the local bar. As a good friend of mine would say: “Dat deh, is man”.

These are the basic elements for establishing your strength and virility. However, there are sundry other requirements to be met by a real Jamaican man:

You must love “road”. A real Jamaican man spends as little time as possible at home. Real Jamaican men are always at the bar, at the racetrack, at cricket or at football. They may occasionally be found at work – but only as a means of supporting the aforementioned activities.

As you will have deduced from the above, a Jamaican man must love sports. Ideally, you should have represented the country, your club or your school in football, cricket or track. “Lesser sports” such as table tennis, hockey or water polo will suffice but they will hardly guarantee the respect and admiration of your peers. If your sporting career was cut short by injury (or lack of talent), or if you never had one to begin with, you should at least have a comprehensive knowledge of one of the major sports and an exhaustive knowledge of your favorite team. If you can’t rattle off the weight, shoe size and favourite colour of the wife of your favourite Manchester United player, then you have no business calling yourself a sports fan.

You must revere your high school. For a Jamaican man his high school holds a place in his heart rivaled only by that held by his mother.  I am not sure if this has to do with the coming of age and the forging of treasured friendships that takes place in high school or if its simply because, for most local men, this is the last formal schooling they will receive, but for whatever reason, most Jamaican men have a fervent love of "the old school".  50 years after walking through the gates of their alma mater, most Jamaican men can name their Form teacher, supply the proper name and nickname of every member of their graduating class and sing the clean and bastardized versions of their school song.  Many religious cults labour in vain to instill the fanatical loyalty displayed by male graduates of Jamaican high schools.

You must “bun b*tty man”. Translation: the abhorrence of anything remotely homosexual is de rigeur. You must use every opportunity at your disposal to express your revulsion at the morals of these deviants. You must repeat these sentiments as frequently and loudly as you can manage lest you be suspected of secretly being one of their number.

A knowledge of all things mechanical is also highly desirable.  (Knowledge of politics, philosophy and current affairs is completely optional).  If your lady’s shudders to a halt on the highway, with smoke pouring from beneath the bonnet, you must appear on the scene in an instant, knowingly mutter something about the drive-shaft-radiator-transmission needing re-calibrating…  and then fix the whole thing with a screwdriver and a paperclip.

If you can successfully juggle these requirements you can safely consider yourself a solid example of Jamaican manhood. You will enjoy the constant affection of Jamaican women, though you may have difficulty ever finding a settled loving relationship with one woman. In Jamaica you will be regarded as tough. Elsewhere in the world you will be regarded as cocky and aggressive. You will enjoy an excellent rapport with your male friends but will have difficulty communicating with women except on the most basic level. You will be secure in knowing that your many children will carry on your line, though, those children may not know you or, knowing you, prefer to avoid you. You will have succeeded in becoming a real Jamaican man… and not much else.