WOMEN IN SLEEVELESS DRESSES

I thoroughly enjoyed myself on April 26, as I read a letter to the editor titled “I Dare You Make me Vote”.
The author was 2013 Domino Award winner (Rising Star Journalist of the Year) the beautiful and talented Patria-Kaye Aarons. The letter told her tale as a recently enumerated non-voter. I’ve never met the lady (my loss) although The Old Ball and Chain reports she was a classmate of our eldest, The Computer Whiz. I’ve no idea of her politics. But I know this: Whenever lifetime non-voters enumerate, it’s bad karma for the Party-in-Power.

The thing I like most about Patria-Kaye is that her views are so incisively, calmly and coolly expressed that this often forces her extremely garrulous co-host, Rohan Daley, long striking me as a “born comrade”, to retreat into silence or reluctant consent. Now I know her written skills are as expert as her spoken skills. This lady needs no quotas to succeed.

For me, the best part of her letter was “N.B.: You will not be enumerated wearing a sleeveless shirt. I was turned away because of my brazen flash of shoulder skin.” This isn’t the first time I’ve known of this disgusting, disgraceful, discriminatory treatment of women at our public institutions especially by men. I recall reading the equally brilliant Carmen Clarke complaining about being refused entrance to Jamaica House because she wore a sleeveless dress.

Years ago, Old B.C. delivered a letter for me to the Clerk of Courts at Traffic Court. She took The Computer Whiz, then a teenaged college student on summer holidays, as company. She was dressed in a full length, sleeveless, summer dress. Traffic Court parking is always a problem so she was asked her business by security who directed her where to park. She complied but was later prevented from entering the building by an officious policeman who told her she was improperly dressed. She explained she was only going to the Courts’ Office not to Court but failed to move haughty Heimdall who eventually allowed the Computer Whiz, dressed in torn-up jeans and a dirty, collarless T-shirt, to deliver the letter.

Worse, upon return to the carpark, Old BC spotted a young lawyer deliberately parking his car to block hers. She politely asked him to move a few feet to allow her egress. Sticking his nose in the air, he foppishly enquired “Are you Counsel?” She responded negatively. Dripping scorn from every pore, he strode off to court leaving her helpless. My written request for an apology was rudely rejected by young Counsel who remains supercilious and narcissistic even today. He has proven youth is indeed wasted on the young by becoming an expert profiler who photographs well but produces little of substance. I’m sure, to paraphrase a former P.M., he’s “fahgot it” that he exposed misogynistic impertinence to a mere woman in a sleeveless dress.

Years later, the Venezuelan method of teaching music in under-privileged schools, El Systema, came to Jamaica. Our youngest, SputNick The Terrorist, who’d become an accomplished pianist at an early age, volunteered to teach a class at St Andrew Technical. After his first day, Old BC and I went to pick him up. It was August. Old BC was again dressed in a sleeveless summer dress. Accordingly, she was denied entrance to the school. SputNick didn’t teach a second class.

These incidents, like a three foot flame, burn my ass. All these places are government operated which means our taxes pay the salaries of these petty bureaucrats imposing ridiculous dress codes on us. I’ve no idea what point banning sleeveless dresses in the tropics proves. Michelle Obama wears sleeveless dresses everywhere. Why can’t our women?

It’s similar in journalism where “press freedom day” was recently celebrated by timid journalists none of whom are protected from payola by being paid a living wage and many of whom behave like women in sleeveless dresses reluctant to proceed beyond a certain imaginary line in their critique of public officials. How’s that “freedom”? We must understand taxpayers are like shareholders in a company employing every public official. Journalists are like Directors upon whom taxpayers depend to ensure employees, including management, run the business (Jamaica) successfully for the shareholders. Employees have an interest in performance appraisals that force necessary adjustments. In that scenario, employees can only complain of malicious publications (including intentional vulgarity in dress). Sleeveless dresses in tropical countries and tough, uncompromising critique by journalists are corporate necessities and can never be malicious.

Peace and Love

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