Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Odds 'N Ends

1. Assaults on Lesbians in South Africa

*trigger warning*

Previously, we have seen the Human Rights Watch document the murder and torture of gay men in Iraq. In that post, I noted the seeming invisibility of lesbians in the report and in Iraq. Where the enforcement of strict, traditional gender codes exists, I would argue that lesbians would be much less visible than gay men given women's relatively fewer opportunities for economic self-sufficiency in such societies. That being said, I do not at all believe that visible lesbians would be tolerated.

In South Africa, for instance, where "traditional views about sexuality still run deep," "many quarters" (whatever that means) have a strong resentment of lesbians. In fact:

"500,000 women are raped in South Africa, with lesbians a particular target. The warped logic is that the assault will 'cure' them. As a result, says ActionAid, 86 per cent of black lesbians live in fear of rape. Their anxiety is understandable: only a minority of rapes are reported to the police and, of these, only one in five ends up in court, with a meagre 4 per cent of them ending in a conviction."

This particular article highlights the assault of Eudy Simelane, a sports star and open lesbian, who was gang raped and murdered a group of men raped and murdered in South Africa.

I do not think one can separate the hatred of women from the hatred of homosexuality. At their core, they are both about asserting the dominance of an exaggerated, aggressive, and anti-social hyper-masculinity.

2. Anti-Gay Bullying

In Minnesota, two teachers are on leave after having been accused of repeatedly mocking a student they believed to be gay. The (alleged) asininity of the teacher, Diane Cleveland:

"According to the report, the high school junior wrote a report on Ben Franklin during the 2007-2007 school year. Cleveland told the entire class that the student had a 'thing for older men.' Cleveland also told the class the boy's 'fence swings both ways.'

When the student wrote a report on Abraham Lincoln, teacher Walter Filson said, 'Since you like your men older ...' Filson also told some students that the boy 'enjoys wearing women's clothes.'

Cleveland also asked him if he wanted a gay student to come to the bathroom with him and they could tap feet under the stalls. Filson even agreed and laughed along when a student compared Merritt to a person they discussed in class that had molested deer."

In the US, the National Day of Silence brings "attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying, and harassment in schools." It is tragic enough when students partake in any sort of bullying, but for a teacher to join in the "fun" is inexcusable. Yet, at least from my experience in the public school system, I can't say that it was all that unexpected or rare teachers, coaches, and other authority figures to make anti-gay remarks. They certainly didn't step in and stop other kids from making them.

Some people opposed to LGBT rights and equality, oppose the National Day of Silence because they believe it is some sort of propaganda campaign to promote "the homosexual agenda." I can only think that this opposition comes from either a willful ignorance or complete unconcern regarding the anti-LGBT bullying that occurs among students and, less often, teachers. Given that bullying based on the hatred, dislike, or discomfort with all things LGBT exists, I can only ask what those who oppose the National Day of Silence propose as an alternative to deal with this very real social problem.

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