‘In Trinidad, there was a family in much confusion as you will see, It was a mama and a papa and a boy who was grown, He wanted to marry & have a wife of his own. He found a young girl that suited him nice; He went to his papa to ask his advice. His papa said son; I have to say no, that girl is your sister, but your mama don’t know.’
Those are lyrics from the song ‘Shame & Scandal‘ which was a Peter Tosh & The Wailers cover. Even if you have never heard that song before, after reading those lyrics you should have some idea of what the song is addressing. If you still haven’t caught on, check out the third & last verse;
‘He went to his mama and covered his head and told his mama what his papa had said. His mama she laughs, she said go man go, your daddy ain’t your daddy, but your daddy don’t know.’
Now that you have surely caught on, I can get to down to addressing a serious issue through this post. Paternity Fraud refers to a paternal discrepancy, where a mother names a man to be the biological father of a child, particularly for self-interest, when she knows or suspects that he is not the biological father. [Wikipedia] In Jamaica that’s what we would call a Jacket. Historically, Jamaican men have never been fond of Jackets; whether it’s the ‘Cut to fit’ or ‘Ready Made’ type; maybe it’s the tropical climate.
Every so often the topic of infidelity & to a lesser extent, Paternity Fraud (Jackets), is brought to my attention. I always wanted to give my opinion on the topic & I finally decided that today would be that day. I did no extensive research as it relates to Jackets. I don’t have years of experience or am I an authority in this area. (I have wriggled out of couple Jackets though) My views as it relates to Jackets were shaped based on observations & stories (both 1st hand & otherwise) over the years. These observations have led me to believe that even though Jamaican men are against Jackets, they are more against being labeled as a ‘Gelding.’ In Jamaican terminology, A Gelding is a man who is unable to father a child. [See official definition here] Being able to get a female pregnant is a big deal in Jamaica. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it’s an accomplishment for some. So much so, that a Jamaican male would rather ‘wear a jacket’ until he legitimately fathers a child than being called a Gelding. In fact, a lot of men will still care for & support the child after they find out that the child is not their biological child.
Jackets are not unique to Jamaica; Lauryn Hill has been caught up in ‘tailor made’ situations twice. The first case involved Wyclef Jean, while she was still a member of the Fugees. The second instance involved her most recent child, who may or may not have been fathered by Rohan Marley. The actress/model Liv Tyler might be one of the most famous Jackets. Her biological father is none other than Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith. Up until she was eight years old, she thought Todd Rundgren was her father. As it turned out, her mother felt the ‘Dude looks like a lady’ & ‘Pink’ singer would be an unfit father & she was already living with Rundgren at the time. (Perfect scenario for a Jacket)
Mothers who give Jackets always think the reason(s) for giving them are justified. These reasons range from;
1. The biological father is unfit (for whatever reason).
2. The child was the result of a fling or an outside relationship.
3. The other man is in a better position financially.
I must point out that none of these reasons justify giving a man a Jacket. Men are not entirely innocent in these situations. The ‘man fi have nuff gyal’ philosophy is often at the root of Paternity Fraud cases. After all, ‘your name can’t call, if you never go deh’. In some cases, the men suspect that the child might not be theirs. However, the high costs of paternity tests leave some men with no choice but to reluctantly ‘wear their Jackets.’
The effects of giving a man a Jacket can be far-reaching. It not only deceives the man, but it robs the child of a relationship with their biological father. There is also a financial issue at play here. Children are expensive to rear, being deceived & made to support a child that is not yours is cruel, to say the least. Some women use these Jackets as ‘meal tickets,’ especially in situations where the ‘father‘ is a celebrity or a public figure. Men are often dragged before the courts on Child Support charges, by women who know good & well that the man might not be the father of the child. I am of the belief, that if a woman is found to have intentionally given a man a Jacket, the courts should award that ‘father’ even a part of the total child support payments he made.
Jackets sometimes ruin relationships, careers, and lives. There have been many instances where fathers find out during Immigration proceedings, that their children are Jackets. In the worst case scenario, there might be the loss of life. Some men turn to violence when they find out that they were the victim of Paternity Fraud. The embarrassment can push some over the edge, resulting in murder or suicide.
In closing all, I can say is….Say No To Jackets!
In the words of Michael Jackson, ‘Billy Jean is not my lover, she’s just a girl who says that I am the one, but the kid is not my son. She says that I am the one, but the kid is not my son.’
What are your views on Jackets? Is giving a Jacket ever acceptable? Ladies, how would you feel if your spouse got a Jacket? Men, how would you react if you got a Jacket? Do you know anybody that is a Jacket or got a Jacket? Please respond. Comment & share. Thank you