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From the Publisher

When I was a young man in 1969, I became the leader of an oppressed group of people in Belize. I did not seek that leadership: rather, it was thrust upon me. But, no matter, I became the target of the white supremacist power structure here. This is just how white supremacy has operated internationally for five centuries and more: they target the leaders of oppressed groups and seek to destroy those leaders in various ways.

When one is targeted, then one finds that every feature of one’s character/personality and every aspect of one’s life comes under heavy scrutiny. It is as if you live under a microscope. The power structure is probing you to find areas of weakness. Your enemies are praying for ill fate to befall you: some actually believe that God is on their side. It is very uncomfortable, trust me. This is one of the prices you pay for leadership.

As a consequence of your being targeted, you will find that your followers, reactively, are very protective of you. In my case, I have said that I had very, very good people with me, and I honor them. So that, I survived the worst years of being targeted, and when the group I was leading, splintered and then was dissolved, I managed afterwards to fend for myself through some rough years. To a certain extent I had to live in an underground fashion. I had a reputation, hence remained a target, but without my group I had no protection.

Anyway, here I am today, praise God, and many of the views I express remain those of what you may describe as a socio-political minority. There is the same white supremacist power structure in place that was in place in 1969, so I would say that I am still targeted in different ways.

I never intended to be in the newspaper business as such. I have no training in journalism. I wanted to be a professional, creative writer, but my personal belief is that the power structure in Belize, which controls the education system, denied such a career to me. My opponents no doubt have a different perspective on the matter, but suffice it to say that when I finally began to make a living for myself and take care of my children properly, it was as the editor and publisher of this newspaper.

Now, let me come to this column’s point. International white supremacy has focused on the relations between men and women in non-white countries such as Belize. It is the view of the international, European power structure that the relationships between men and women in countries like Belize are characterized by the abuse of women by men, and for that reason, in seeking to portray themselves as having a loving interest in our non-white societies, the international power structure has made a lot of money available for individuals and institutions in countries like Belize who seek to right the specific wrong diagnosed by international white supremacy.

As a boy growing up in British Honduras, I reached that point some people call puberty, which involves becoming seriously interested in girls. That’s if you are heterosexual, as they call it. I felt that I wanted to learn how to pleasure ladies, because I believed that in pleasuring them I would also be pleasuring myself.

I had an uncle who was experienced in these matters, and when I was about 14 he gave me some good advice. He said that different kinds of ladies liked different kinds of guys, so that a guy should always look for ladies who liked the type of guy he was. In other words, if you only had one leg, you should stay away from ladies who basically liked one-armed guys. I will not elaborate on this thesis today.

What I want to say is that I myself have learned quite a bit during my lifetime, and I marvel at how stupid we males are when we are young. This is not to say that some older males are not also stupid, and in fact there are many people who believe men become more stupid as they age. In any case, I am the father of five daughters, and I give total respect to their mothers for their upbringing. I find it a source of wry irony, humor almost, that no matter how tough and macho a brother may be or think he is, the Creator made it so that tough guy brother has a mother, he has sisters, he has daughters. Hence, even if, to quote James Brown’s lyrics, it’s a man’s world, it surely would be nothing without a woman. All of us have to take the sisters into account, Jack: they run things.

There’s some uproar involving the male and female issue this week. The senior people at our newspaper may have to address that. I did think this would be a good time to publish the paragraphs below from reviews of two recent books published on page 80 of The Economist of April 2, 2016.

The two books are: American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, by Nancy Jo Sales, Knopf; and Girls & Sex: Navigating The Complicated New Landscape, by Peggy Orenstein, Harper. Following are the excerpts, in italics.

For many girls, the constant seeking of “likes” and attention on social media can “feel like being a contestant in a never-ending beauty pageant,” writes Nancy Jo Sales in “American Girls”, a thoroughly researched if sprawling book. In this image-saturated environment, comments on girls’ photos tend to focus disproportionately on looks, bullying is common and anxieties about female rivals are rife. In interviews, girls complain of how hard it is to appear “hot” but not “slutty”, sexually confident but not “thirsty” (i.e., desperate). That young women often aspire to be titillating should not be surprising given that the most successful female celebrities often present themselves as eye-candy for the male gaze. “Everybody wants to take a selfie as good as the Kardashians’,” says Maggie, a 13 year old.

Such self-objectification comes at a cost. A review of studies from 12 industrialised countries found that adolescent girls around the world are increasingly depressed and anxious about their weight and appearance. For Peggy Orenstein, an American journalist, these are symptoms of a larger and more pernicious problem: “the pressure on young women to reduce their worth to their bodies and to see those bodies as a collection of parts that exist for others’ pleasure”. In “Girls & Sex”, a wise and sharply argued look at how girls are navigating “the complicated new landscape” of sex and sexuality, Ms. Orenstein notes that unlike past feminists, who often protested against their sexual objectification, many of today’s young women claim to find it empowering. “There are few times that I feel more confident about my body than when I wear a crop top and my boobs are showing and my legs are showing,” says Holly, a college student. “I never feel more liberated.”

This hardly seems like progress, particularly when only certain bodies, those that are sexy to men, are allowed to be a source of pride. Yet both authors argue that girls are embracing their own sexualisation in part because they are living in a culture that prioritizes women being “hot”.

Both books also blame the “ever-broadening influence of porn”. The internet has made pornography more widely available than ever before. Few view it as realistic, but many consult it as a guide – which makes sense in a country where parents rarely talk candidly about sex with their children, especially their daughters, and few schools fill the gap. Educators commonly advocate abstinence and only 13 states require that sex education even be medically accurate.

The problem is that much of this pornography is not only explicit but also violent, which can influence expectations. A study of Canadian teenagers found a correlation between consuming pornography and believing it is okay to hold a girl down for forced sex. Pornography also tends to present women’s sexuality as something that exists primarily for the benefit of men. Ms. Orenstein notes that most of the young women she interviewed had removed all of their pubic hair since they were about 14 in order to cater to the fickle, porn-bred tastes of young men. They also tended to prioritize their partners’ physical pleasure over their own.

For anyone raising a daughter, these books do not make for easy reading. Expect plenty of stories about binge drinking, random hookups, oral sex and misjudged sexting. Intellectually, many young women believe they can achieve whatever they set their minds to, but most still struggle to obey a sexual double-standard that gives them little room between being chided as “sluts” or “prudes”. As one teenage girl tells Ms. Orenstein, “Usually the opposite of a negative is a positive, but in this case it’s two negatives. So what are you supposed to do?”

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