Glenda Simms, Contributor
In the July 1, 2012 edition of The Sunday Gleaner, reporter Nadisha Hunter brought to the public's attention the fact that many boys in our schools are being bullied because they are seen as sissies or gays.
This type of behaviour is described as homophobic bullying, and sometimes results in suicidal depression and distress. According to Hunter, one psychologist recommends that there should be sensitisation programmes to help bullies to be more accepting of human diversity.
Other commentators suggest that people need to be taught to be more tolerant. However, I am of the opinion that schools need to take responsibility for the behaviours of students. They need to make bullies know that their behaviours will neither be accepted nor accommodated.
We need to be strong on these issues because significant sectors of our population might justify bullying behaviours against those who are different from the so-called mainstream.
A perusal of the literature on bullying reveals that this behaviour must not be taken lightly. In fact, some social historians link bullying to the atrocities carried out in fascist Italy under Mussolini, and in Nazi Germany under Hitler. Bullying, therefore, is a serious crime designed to humiliate an individual who appears to be powerless, and is carried out through physical, emotional and social aggression.
Many of these so-called 'effeminate' boys have no idea what their sexual orientation is. The majority of them are like their perceived heterosexual peers. They gradually feel rushes of testosterone which result in wet dreams and erect penises when they wake up in the mornings.
They observe the growth in pubic hair and their voices start becoming husky. They are following the normal course of development. Some of them might display a soft and more nurturing persona. They might not have the instinct to be brutish and wild.
They probably see beauty in the sunset and enjoy watching the behaviours of bees and butterflies. They also might be averse to cussing and swearing and throwing garbage on the school ground. Such positive human responses might be described by the bullies as girlish.
I would like to argue that bullying of such young men and boys has nothing to do with their sexual orientation. It has everything to do with the perceived effeminate behaviours. The victims of bullying are nurturing, compassionate, caring, sometimes passive and do not engage in sexual banter.
In other words, they do not fit the image of the macho man, the bully, the brash and impolite brother, the crotch grabber, the bad word curser, the boy who passes gas without saying 'excuse' and the slayer of numerous truckloads of 'gyals'. In short, the victims of bullying are not necessarily homosexual. They are perceived as effeminate.
Therefore, we need to recognise that hatred and the disrespect of things feminine are at the base of the bullying, which is reportedly a feature of many Jamaican schools.
Let's be real. The majority of gay men are the closeted macho, multi-muscled, three piece-suited fellows who occupy private-sector organisations, the corridors of political and academic power, and the upscale houses of the nation's suburbs.
They are the icons of the society. They produce trophy children and have beautifully attired wives and girlfriends at their sides.
In some black American communities in the United States, these are the men who declare loudly that they are not gay - they are merely on the down low.
Tomboys get off
The resentment to, and repression of, femininity is a unique strategy of the patriarchal mindset, which is the base of what is described as homophobic tendencies in a society. This is the explanation for bullying of boys who are perceived to be effeminate, as opposed to the bullying of the' tomboy'.
Such a girl has the right to display the established masculine traits of the macho boys. These girls climb coconut trees, walk with a swagger, sling guns on the ranch, rope horses and cattle, and pass gas loudly without excuse.
No boy or girl would dare bully this tomboy. In fact, boys are usually afraid of her. She is not shy about using a few choice 'bad words' and she will not hesitate to 'horse-whip' any boy who dares to confront her. By the same token, young men from powerful families will not be exposed to the homophobic bullying that poor boys have to put up with.
Recently, Anderson Cooper, one of the most famous journalists on CNN, declared to the world that he is gay, has always been, and will continue to be for the rest of his life. We have no idea if Anderson's peers recognised effeminate traits in him when he attended high school. What we do know is that no one in his circle would have dared to bully the son of Madame Vanderbilt.
When one is from the right family, backed by wealth and power, no bully, or their families, will ever take liberties. Duppy certainly know who fi frighten!
In short, the established masculine traits are not devalued. They are seen as the real definition of the human.
The challenge is for us to transform our ideas and deal decisively with violence in schools. We must stop justifying the unjustifiable.
Glenda Simms, PhD, is a gender expert and consultant. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.