Jamaican Men, Beauty or the Beast?
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As anyone who has ever visited or lived in Jamaica knows, the roles of males here are quite unique and sometimes a bit complex.
Let’s delve in the variety of men that foreign women tend to encounter on our travels and in day-to-day life here “without a man of our own.” This is a situation that has brought great speculation and confusion about me in the small town I live in. Rumors have run the gambit from people believing I’m divorced, to being widowed, to being gay.
Jamaican women seem to make a point of “having a man,” even if they don’t want to keep him! To be a single woman in Jamaica who doesn’t want/need a man is seen as very out of the ordinary and warrants a great deal of discussion, apparently.
Although Jamaican men could work circles around many other men, many resolve to sit in leisure, as if they have not a care in the world. I often watch in amazement as the local crowd gathers at the little bar across from my house at 7:30 or 8:00 in the MORNING. Some of them will sit there the entire day, drinking, smoking and staring at people going by.
How these guys pay for this lifestyle is beyond me. A few have “sugar mommas” off in England, Canada or the USA. These women are paying the men’s expenses in exchange for companionship when the in Jamaica. I’ve only really had the opportunity to get to really know one of these ladies. She seems completely “normal” to me, Ha. I just don’t see the value in this proposition.
Some of these Jamaican men are so gorgeous that you almost have to stare.
Oddly, many others, despite their less than stellar appearance, or dire financial status, believe they are the answer to the problems of women from all walks of life. You really have to admire their bravado! I’m always in mental discussions with myself as to whether they have enormous egos or super low . The way they hit on virtually every woman walking by is something that certainly takes guts, if nothing else.
My initial foray into this arena took place on my very first visit to the island. My husband, brother-in-law, his wife and I were vacationing at the Sandals Resort in Negril. Our men wanted to sit back and relax, snoozing in the sun, sipping cold drinks and just generally lazing around. My sister-in-law and I seem to have been shorted the “sit around and do nothing” gene, so we quickly set out to explore.
We decided to walk the “7 mile beach,” famous for its long stretch of silky, white sand.
The sun was sizzling but a cool breeze fueled our energy levels. Before we knew it, we had traveled quite a distance beyond the boundaries of the resort.
The trip was a little slow as we were stopped quite frequently by vendors. Each was hoping to make a few dollars by selling their juice, fruit, hats, jewelry, beach towels, or, much to our surprise, their weed.
My sister-in-law and I had both traveled a number of places around the world so it didn’t really bother us. We felt pretty relaxed as we made our way down the beach, gabbing about our lives.
Near the far end of our walk we were approached by a man who seemed to have come out of nowhere. He called out to us, “Hey, pretty ladies!” We politely smiled and walked on. We hadn’t yet learned how to firmly dodge and avoid these advances. He jogged out to us, raising his hand for the famous Jamaican “fist bump.”
This was our first face-to-face encounter with what many vacationing women believe to be the typical Jamaican man.
When we obliged his request for the fist bump, he took our hands in his. Standing closely and asking where we were from, he wanted to know if we were enjoying our time. Then he started imploring us to stay and “socialize” for a while. Although not a handsome man, he was energetically charismatic and we found it hard to ignore his demands.
Although we had obviously interacted with the polished, male employees at the resort and countless rough-cut male vendors on the beach, this man was different. He was persistent, almost forceful, in his manner, yet always had a smile on his face. He didn’t just ask to speak to us, he wanted to be in our personal space.
For a bit, we humored him, chatting while trying to gently escape his grasp. The conversation drifted from comments about our vacation to the man suggesting that he would like to offer us “massage” to facilitate our “relaxation.” We laughed out loud at his suggestion. His hands were as rough as sandpaper and as tough as leather, hardly the smooth hands of a masseur. He was missing several of his teeth and looked like he had skipped more than a few showers. Ummm, no thanks.
We told him that our husbands were waiting and we really needed to get back to the hotel. He laughed, a joint hanging out of the corner of his mouth and said, “Hey, baby. What happens on the beach, stays on the beach. They will never know if you step over there behind the trees and have a little fun.” Of course, we knew it was also a great place to get robbed or worse.
By that time, we had extricated ourselves from his hold and had begun our walk back, but he didn’t go down easily. He continued calling out excuses and ideas as we retreated, half laughing and half shaking our heads in disbelief. We had heard about “Jamaican men,” but it was shocking to see one in action.
In my many trips since, I’ve discovered that the men here come in as many “flavors” as the mind can imagine.
Some men are loud and boisterous. Others are quiet and contemplative. I’ve watched happily married men compliment and even harmlessly flirt with women passing by and I’ve seen others who were definitely “on the prowl.” I’ve seen men “of the cloth” destroy their lives and the lives of countless others with their sexual trysts with underage females. Sometimes I wonder how this drive for sexual encounters became to ingrained in this culture.
I have seen complacent men, laying no claim to their children, often spread among many “baby mommas,” shirking all responsibility. But right alongside those men I’ve found the most caring, committed fathers and husbands. Granted, there seem to be more of the former than the latter, but it’s interesting to ponder the contrasts between them.
There are those who work hard to better themselves, working hard on educations and moving up in the world. Then there are those who invest their energies in trying to capture the attention of foreign women, hoping for a ticket to an easier life. I’ve met highly intelligent, incredibly educated men and men who never finished school, both working hard to support their families. It’s really a mixed bag, with no rhyme or reason.
Not wishing to discount the many upstanding, moral men I’ve met in Jamaica, they appear to be few and far between in the places that attract foreign women. In tourist areas, at least in my experience, men are groomed from an early age to depend on the “kindness,” as well as finances, of visiting women.
Of course, no discourse on Jamaican men would be complete without mentioning the smooth-talking, heart breaker.
You know the guy…big smile, great body, smooth moves and ALL the right lines. If he lacks in “good looks” and, sometimes, teeth, he makes up for in charm and smooth talk. He is generally persistent but not always pushy. He’s good at reading women, making vague comments that cause her to believe he “gets her.” Then he goes in for the capture. I’ve seen it play out time and time again.
By all accounts, these particular Jamaican men are only looking for a few things. The prefer money that they made no effort to gain. Sex with no commitment or restrictions is also high on their list. Basically anything else that they believe will be of benefit to them is a welcome bonus.
This may include you, your money, and a number of “side chicks” or “baby mammas” that they bounce back and forth with when you aren’t around. The most ironic part is that one of these guys will “warn you” about other guys just like him! Usually these guys are just working for their own benefit but in other instances, he may be using you to “bring home the bacon” for his entire family.
It boggles the mind to think it can be that easy but, I must admit that spinning webs of deception DOES seem to be as easy as taking a breath to many of these Jamaican men.
Perhaps it’s because I spent many of my younger years with a true narcissist, a charming liar, to be sure, but I can often see their game in action right before my eyes. If one story starts to fall apart, don’t despair. You can bet that a new story line will spring into action, as easily as turning the page of a book.
As we wandered the streets recently, my daughter and I discussed the phenomena of foreign women that we see come into our town and hook up with Jamaican men. They do it as casually as if they were trying on a pair of shoes. It plays out right in front of us, with a different cast of characters from week to week.
We questioned if these women were aware of the fact that they are being used and do they even care?
It is not uncommon to see women, younger and “older” alike, meet a Jamaican man on a beach or in a bar, who decide to spend the night, or even an entire vacation, tangled up with him. Money is spent on meals, drinks, clothing, trips, new phones and whatever else he can manage to dream up…always HER money, of course. She is lucky if it ends there.
Sometimes, they part ways just as casually as the women strolled into town. Many times, they leave with promises to stay involved, even to the extent of return flights. Worse yet, the women are implanted with ideas of visas to bring their new “love” abroad. At the very least, women are preened to provide financial support for him.
It’s a practice that my both practical and suspicious mind has never been able to come to grips with. I feel certain that most of these older women are mature, intelligent, successful professionals “back in the real world.” I don’t understand the disconnect between home and here.
Honestly, I can’t place full blame on the Jamaican men.
Like children, we all continue what we know we can get away with. If women didn’t offer themselves and their resources up like candy in the dime store window, year after year, men wouldn’t be able to so easily manipulate, use and abuse them.
Even these men will tell you that these women come to Jamaica “wanting to try out the culture.” That means the food, the beaches, the culture and, often, include the men. It’s such an accepted and common practice that they actually have terms for it. “Rent a dread” and looking for “black bamboo” are a few that come to mind.
Distinctly separate from the religious “Rastafarian” men, these dread-sporting gigilos believe, often rightly so, that they are filling a niche or meeting a perceived need. Women seem to come for attention, adventure and excitement and the men simply deliver…for a price. It seems like the women rarely truly stop to count or understand the eventual cost of these liaisons.
Beyond financial and emotional losses, these women risk contracting AIDS, being abused, robbed and, as has happened on a few occasions, even losing their lives because they decide they don’t want to play the game any longer. A few of these men don’t take being cut off very happily.
To me, it seems like a high price to pay.
That said, the next time you walk our gorgeous beaches, sip a few strong drinks at a unique bar, be careful. If you decide to rip it up on the dance floor of a Jamaican night club, or, worse yet, send your precious daughter to this place, think about my words.
Please keep your eyes open, your wallets closed and your life intact. Trips to Jamaica can be life changing, for the good or otherwise. You will meet all sorts of interesting people, men included. Most will be amazing, funny, loving people. Just be prepared to sift through the mix and choose carefully.
To read about one of the really great Jamaican men I’ve met, read about Carver, my Rastafarian friend here.