Sunday, June 7, 2009

Aborting a Baby/ Terminating a Pregnancy

Yesterday, I had a very informative discussion with two female friends about 'abortion'. Let me share some of the things we discussed.

For too long women did not have a chance to determine when they had children, and how many children they had to care for. They got pregnant, and then they were housewives- slaves of a patriarchal system of oppression. Concurrent with this view, I believe that a woman who desires to terminate a pregnancy she should be able to do so.

Now this is the scenario I was given: Mary has already terminated seven pregnancies. How can I give her a right to continue, when she clearly has no regard for the gifts of life she persistently throws away.

Now of the majority of women who terminate pregnancies, how many have already terminated seven? Birth control options are innumerable, and many sexually active people make use of them. Where the condom fails, the famed after-morning pill comes to the rescue. Still these options sometimes fail, and a woman finds herself pregnant with a child-to be that she cannot care adequately for. She decides to terminate the pregnancy, and I support HER decision. 

We must be careful to understand where we stand on such controversial matters. It can't be that we believe some things are wrong because that is what we were taught. 'Abortion' is morally wrong, we say. Yet in Jamaica, adoption isn't exactly romanticized... the hypocrisy kills me.

My friends spoke of the significance of the decision being made, and I asked them, why they felt the decision had a lot of weight. Women are tortured by their decision they say, without acknowledging that our stigmatization of the act is in large part what makes the decision sometimes difficult. Women who terminate pregnancies in Jamaica do not talk about it, and so they are constantly plagued by their decision. For women who regret their decision, I do not believe the main reasons is always their worry that they "destroyed" a form of "life". Child bearing is still such a big qualifier for female adulthood, and this is something than needs to change- it's the same thing for Jamaican men. The more children, the more manly.

I always say this- the fact that women can have children does not in itself preclude that they must. Only heaven knows how my life would fare if I decided to populate the earth with my seeds, like I have the capacity to do. This world is not fair, but there are things we can do to make it more so... Women are now able to work amongst men in most professions, but instead of helping them to achieve equality, their employment now serves to maintain their subjugation, as they must still work in the home as well. If we want to respect our women, open more adoption agencies, adopt children, open baby-care centers for newborns so that women can return to work after their pregnancies.

Use condoms. Do a vasectomy. Plan for your family. We wouldn't need to ponder the ethical complications of "abortions" if we were more responsible. 

The Relationship between Patwa and its Lexifier

Today a friend and I spoke of the relationship between Patwa and English, revealing some misconceptions about our native language, that many Jamaicans still hold. English is the lexifier language for Jamaican Creole, and so many of our words have roots in that language. What they fail to realize is that the meaning ascribed to the many appropriated words is often nuanced, and at times completely different.

Many who hear Jamaica Creole make the mistake of identifying the English root words and then proclaiming, oh I understood that! As a matter of fact, it is not that simple.

Take the following sentence. Context is very important here, so... Two young men are in a fiesty confrontation. One of them shoves the other, and he exclaims:

"Ef yu toch mi agen mi ago tel yu bout yu mada!"
The non speaker/ patwa hater hears this and says, I know what you said. They assemble all the English roots in their heads, and come up with an idea of what must have been meant.

"If you touch me again, I will tell you about your mother."

Maybe this is just me, but I wouldn't translate the original line to English in that manner. Doing so takes away from the potency of the language, and the complexity of the ideas that are expressed with these approportaions.

"If you insist on bothering me further, I will be not restrain myself from giving you a piece of my mind."

Some would say, well I don't think that is what you mean. Tell me, what do I mean then? Clearly, offering to tell someone about their mother, may have no effect whatsoever on an individual not accustomed to the culture.

Similarly, I could say, "Mi wii lik yu dong ino!" Directly translated to be, "I will hit you!" but really, I never intent to hit anyone when I speak these words. Of course, some people do, so I wouldn't suggest using these words against someone you were onthe brink of war with... BUT! The poitn remains, that simplistic approaches to translating Jamaican Creole, using the words of the lexifier language from which many words in Patwa come, is a malicious attempt to perpetuate the perception that Jamaican Creole is but a fegenerate form of English.

Give us some credit please. I wonder if people similarly try to discredit the merits of Spanish and Portuguese as languages, because of their striking similarities and their heavy borrowing from Latin.

Unu lou di ting yaa man! Patwa mi a difen!