Anthropologist Dr Herbert Gayle has once again has caused some upset of sorts out there by making generalized comments on sensitive matters; however in this go round was not as the one he just ended up in recently on violence and power differentials between men and women and violence as he for all intents and purposes resorted to victim blaming (women are the ones who push men to violence narrative). I like some others who watched the news last evening were wondering if the man we saw speaking at Rotary Club meeting and who has worked on street boys and violence, JFLAG and the University of The West Indies and a host of other groups, NGOs and civil society if he was out of his mind in some sense; Gayle seemed quite comfortable by way of his cadence of speech and gesticulation in the delivery at the podium maybe without realizing what he was perpetuating; he was speaking about street boys and men who seem to have a cleek mentality and glorify violence up in later years as a stripe of sorts, the newscast’s report did not show any explanation as well as to business of the group mentality for survival, sex as a means of income sometimes most unwillingly versus deliberate abuse by more monied and powered men. A request for a transcript has not been responded to as at the preparation of this post.
Gayle also suggested that even successful men in particular who hail from a poorer and abusive backgrounds and who have physical evidence of abuse by way of beatings and so on they too seem to respond with braggadociousness that they are bolder persons now due to the treatment and what they learnt in youthful years, they seem to see some justification for the abuse so they accept it. One would have expected that as one become more exposed to issues in a real sense that newfound informed position would influence anyone to avoid generalisations especially predicated on such a radioactive conflation of predatory paedophile intent. Dr Gayle whether inadvertently or deliberately given the audience he was in front of just threw out the line(s) he uttered and makes me wonder sadly why he would make those statements at a function and then leave them simply hanging knowing how deeply homophobic we are and can get when it suits some persons. Was he throwing stones without realising the broader implications of this nationally?
This is not the first time Dr Gayle has done this gay-baiting of sorts framed as predatory or exploitative homosexuality despite as mentioned above his work he did with JFLAG, even while he hosted an afternoon show on the University of the West Indies, UWI ‘s Newstalk 93FM he would put out the one liners indicated the narrative without unpacking some of the other attendant pieces to the puzzle, such as experimentation, substitutional sex, gay for pay phenomenon versus genuine male inappropriate sexual abuse. He would reel off all kinds of statistics and so on and on the face of them they sound plausible but without the benefit of the listeners and some basic unpacking suppositions and or speculations become the end product unfortunately; when academics are supposed to encourage the analysis of facts driven by strong empirical data for those of us who are not so book bright. Make no mistake one is not denying that there are persons out there sometimes wrapped in sheep clothing who abuse others and use their power by force or not to get psychologically or financial weak or desperate persons into non consensual scenarios or going as far as rape but for an anthropologist to engage in generalizations of such a sensitive nature plays right into the hands of a homophobe who use such thinking to set themselves in their ways whilst putting up a permanent wall of rejection, hate, ignorance and feeling justified in supporting to the point of violence against LGBT persons predicated on stereotypes, misnomers and sheer ignorance. This is not the kind of thinking and subtle encouragement that should be coming from an academic.
Anti gay groups and individuals to include fanatical Christians often use this long standing paedophile/homosexual conflation to near perfection in whipping up opposition to any sensible processing of human sexuality and by extension debates on buggery law reform; the subtext of the narrative is that the law must remain as boys will be abused and men will have a free hand to do so which is NOT true. They like Dr Gayle’s wide broad brush simply pack all gay men as paedophiles without looking at or recognizing the all important matters of consent as adults and or sexual orientation. There is sometimes a comparison to what occurs with teenage girls and older men where the teens are merely seen as future or young fresh sex objects for use and is justified in song by popular dancehall acts (the buss breast targeting of girls) who maintain their popularity by glorifying same and presenting a virile hypermasculine man image to project strength. All the more reason why Dr Gayle ought to have tread a little more carefully as the sequence of disturbing cases and once guarded secrets of abuse of women and girls indeed boys coupled with the now exposed rotted under belly of some church denominations in as far as church or clerical sex abuse once swept under the rug. Problem is some much has been swept under that rug that it is two inches away from the ceiling. The comparative response to the latest ugly salvo pales in comparison to the stridency these often misguided groups show to conflated homosexual matters, where are the Half Way Tree protests condemning this?
Dr Gayle and other such academics, two particular misguided sociologists comes to mind one being the sister to former Member of Parliament Damian Crawford, georgette Crawford and the ever homophobic Dr Orville Higgins seem to thrive of hitting back at LGBT advocacy. The former is good at linking paedophile intent with homosexuality and gets away with it ever so often on Nationwide radio despite that stations generalised tolerant tone while the latter Higgins continues to use the perceived label by Time magazine which was a question not a statement of fact that asked “Is Jamaica is the most homophobic place on earth?” he too effortlessly sometime joins male homosexuality with predatory intent. All this happening while the pious are being rapidly being exposed to be something else. It was only yesterday in a previous post on a 6 year old Vybz Kartel antigay song that has been revived of sorts this same paedophile conflation, a conflation some if us for years have been trying to defeat while bringing some sense into the mix.
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual, DSM 5 which denotes the various sexual disorders especially for Psychologists and indeed others is quite clear as to the differences between a paedophile and a homosexual although we also know that the gender of the underaged victim is of no consequence in a sense. Homosexuality is not seen as a disorder from as far back 1973 but paedophilia is seen as a sometimes treatable disorder either by psycho sexual interventions over time backed up by pharmacological courses as well with strong drugs to reduce the libido of such paedophiles. Once an adult finds children sexually attractive or are aroused by kids of whatever gender we are no longer dealing with sexual orientation but something totally different. Traditional media reporting over the years have not helped either as those reports have helped to cement the homo-paedophile construct when the narrative does not seek to give some basic facts but more sensationalism in order to sell papers or in these days generate clicks and web traffic.
Indeed the power differentials in such same gender unions from the point of adolescents can be problematic for as hinted to above for survival some may enter into a gay for pay mode; the monied or privileged man ends up preying on the weaker marginalised male inadvertently I imagine and the outcomes of that have been bourn out in the occasional incident and sometimes murder. The media again sensationalise the story sometimes playing into the hands of the public and rests the motives often times of crimes of passion or justified self defence due to a perceived sodomatical attack (an old term used in courts back in the seventies and eighties). Unfortunately the missing unpacking of such matters by a case by case basis have also fed into the predatory intent conflation while leaving out the power struggle.
It is bad enough that we are up against a homophobic public with deeply entrenched negative subtexts lasting decades which makes it normative and usually more pronounced at the lower socio economic spectrum but to be repeatedly confronted by academics who ought to know better is another matter entirely.
Peace & tolerance