Jamaica Gleaner / Hey, have you heard about Bill Cosby lately? Who? C’mon, Bill Cosby. You must remember him. He had a sitcom with a title taken from his acting name, for Chrissakes (the name on his birth certificate is William Henry Cosby Jr). First there was The Bill Cosby Show and then there was The Cosby Show .
Even if you never saw either of those, then there was the real Bill Cosby Show of recent vintage, when the genial granddad of television was accused by a number of women of sexual harassment and more, dating back to when Jamaica was using pounds and pence. The real fallout began in 2014 and Cosby was the scourge of sexual assault matters – until Harvey Weinstein’s case came along. But while the movie producer has been accused; left, right and centre by fabulous women of film (including, recently, Uma Thurman, whose claims Weinstein has vigorously denied), Cosby’s case has faded. After all, he did not inspire that most powerful of things, a hashtag.
I have been waiting to see if #MeToo would take off in the Jamaican entertainment industry, and it has not. And I don’t expect it to. I have no doubt that the harassment of women by men in the business of creating entertainment products in Jamaica takes place – but I also have no doubt that women and men trade their body parts for a bite at the entertainment cherry. That is, I would think, no secret, but just in case it is for some, I can bear witness that it happens. Each instance of a sexual liaison between entertainment figures has its unique nuances, but the ‘I do you, you do for me’ set-up is commonplace.
That trade between men and women may be pronounced loudly in entertainment, but it is widespread enough in the society for more than one older fellow to send a little lass he has been taking care of financially to meet her maker and then follow suit.
So where does this all connect with #MeToo? It is a very difficult mass sell in a country where the sex trade does not only take place on Portmore’s Back Road and various notorious prostitution spots across the country, but is part and parcel of daily life. After all, as the deejay said, “young gal business control Jamaica” and the singer said “bashment gal no come cheap” (I always wondered if there was a double play on the ‘come’). It is a pity, as I know there is genuine suffering, but in a marketplace where so many people are selling, woe be unto she (or he) who bawls out about feel up, feel up.