Masculinity is Now Entangled with Crime

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

MASCULINITY is no longer what it used to be and is now entangled with crime.

This is according to the lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Dr Jerome Teelucksingh.

In an interview with Jamaican-based Manstory, published on Youtube, Dr Teelucksingh who speaks at academic conferences on masculinity, gender relations, education and peace-building, said the new form of masculinity was “the zesser.”

Interviewer, media personality Alvin Brown, said in Jamaica, there was a lack of fathers in homes, showing the young men an identity.

Giving some statistics based on a study, he said, 85% of the persons in prisons in Jamaica come from fatherless homes and 90% of the persons in gangs were also from fatherless homes.

He asked Dr Teelucksingh, “What do you think is the link with masculinity and crime?”

Dr Teelucksingh replied, “I think that the macho image is no longer there. We no longer see masculinity on that pedestal. What we have now we have the zesser coming in. The zesser has taken over.”

He explained, “That zesser is associated with a man who does not need education. He gets rich quick. A man who maybe has many girlfriends, has maybe an outside woman, so that the link between masculinity and crime, the link between the zesser and the crime is now entrenched and crime and masculinity has become entangled.”

Dr Teelucksingh said many times, people get involved in crime to get respect from the boys on the block.

He said he was seeing variants of masculinity, some of which were good and some were bad.

“It is difficult to sperate the good from the bad because when we do that, we marginilise men who we should be helping,” Dr Teelucksingh said.

He added, “We cannot say these men are bad just because they are involved in crime. We need to find out what are the causes of crime, how could we help them, how could we find solutions.”

International Men’s Day, the brainchild of Dr Teelucksingh is celebrated on November 19 and was created to remove negative stigmas attached to men.
He told Brown that Jamaica has been giving him support for the past 15 years for International Men’s Day. 

Twenty years ago, the term masculinity meant someone with power, a man of respect, a man with friends, Dr Teelucksingh said.

The term macho man might have been associated with a man who was well-kept, financially wealthy and influential, he said.

“But in the last five years, the term masculinity might mean something negative. When we hear masculinity, the next word pops up, is it toxic masculinity? We don’t hear about the good masculinity, we don’t hear about the good men. Suddenly masculinity has become a bad word. It has become corrupted,” Dr Teeluckising said.


In giving advice to young men especially those who may be considering a life of crime, Dr Teelucksingh said, “Reflect on the value of life, the value of their life and the reason that they were put on earth. Sometimes we take life for granted… appreciate their life. There are so many people out there who wish they could live another day, who wish they could move around in society.

“Think twice as to how they could contribute to helping their country, helping their neighbourhood , their community, their village.”

To the fathers and mentors, Dr Teelucksingh said the role was a 24-hour role and a job that the world was depending on and admittingly was underappreciated.

He also spoke about his personal life.

The recipient of a national award said when he was growing up, he was a bit sheltered, “going to school, stay home, going to church, going to events that the family had.”

Dr Teelucksingh also admitted that he did not initially understand the value of education and school was “boring and monotonous.”

Another challenge growing up was society rules and laws and he questioned many aspects of it.

In talking about his opinion about present-day society, Dr Teelucksingh said, “I feel that many of us might be too materialistic, many of us might have superficial relationships  and now in the 21st century, I am seeing something more frightening where we are so absorbed in technology that we are becoming disconnected with other human beings.”

He gave an example of a child watching television or playing video games, while the parents on their computers either working or watching TikTok videos

Dr Teelucksingh said, “I am seeing the dangers of technology, I know it has its benefits, and I am seeing that this could be one of the reasons why we might be seeing a breakdown in family life.”


4 thoughts on “Masculinity is Now Entangled with Crime

  1. I totally disgree with this reference. To attribute a gender-derived eons old adjective such as masculinity with a societal ill such as crime is going down a dangerous path.
    I think this is why Jerome deviated from the word, opting to use his contrived “zesser” instead. Too bad his follow through with its usage was not entirely consistent.

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