So the other day, Canadian Men’s Rights activist and all-around crank Dan Perrins apparently noticed for the first time that gay men face massive bigotry in Jamaica. He reported his findings in a post on A Voice for Men:
Right now in Jamaica lesbian sex is legal while male homosexual sex acts can get you up to 10 years in prison at hard labor.
In other words, homosexual women are accepted as a normal part of society. Homosexual men are criminals, for just existing.
Yes, it’s true that Jamaica’s sodomy laws make gay male sex — “buggery” — illegal. And it is true that gay men are often the targets of violence. But Jamaican lesbians also face tremendous bigotry and terrible violence — often in the form of “corrective rape.” (You can find several gruesome examples of this detailed in this US State Department report.) As do others who stray from traditional gender and sexual roles: last month, a gender-nonconforming* teenager was brutally “chopped and stabbed” to death by an angry mob after attending a party dressed as a woman.
But of course Perrins and his AVFM pals aren’t really interested in what’s actually happening to gays or lesbians or trans* folk in Jamaica. They’re interested in making hay out of what they see as another example of evil anti-male bigotry. Here’s how the site is promoting Perrins’ post on its front page:
In Jamaica, you can go to jail for being a gay male, but not for being a lesbian. It is time to quit rewarding this country with tourist dollars that they will use to persecute men for not being of utility to women. Had enough of this shit?
Homophobia has about as much relation to male “utility to women” as the Men’s Rights movement has to a legitimate civil rights movement. That is, approximately none.
Naturally, Perrins doesn’t let his complete ignorance of Jamaican culture — or LGBT issues — get in the way of his grandstanding on the issue, which seems mainly intended as a weird sort of “gotcha” aimed at feminists.
Jamaica’s legal system is in serious need of redress. And folks, since the feminist community, you know, the one that keeps telling us to shut the fuck up because they have teh menz covered, is apparently too busy slut walking to notice this injustice, we need to take up the slack.
And so, with the help of his “activist” friends at A Voice for Men, he’s decided to lead an international boycott against the country. As he puts it:
Folks, it is time to Boycott Jamaica, and to do so for the sake of Equality. And to create an eye-catching ‘hashtag’ in one move ‘#BJ4Equality’.
Yep. AVFM is taking on the Jamaican tourist industry all by itself. And using a hashtag created quite deliberately to evoke the word “blowjob” rather than “boycott” or “jamaica” at first glance.
He’s even put up a little petition you can sign. Last I checked, it had gotten 78 signatures. The Jamaican tourist industry will surely be quaking in its boots.
I doubt that even Perrins is delusional enough to think that AVFM’s petition will make any difference at all to Jamaica’s economy or to the lives of its gay citizens. But he is delusional enough to think that he’s somehow scoring points against feminists.
Feminists are … wrong in their constantly regurgitated claim that the MHRM is homophobic and racist. You are about to help me prove them wrong, again, and also to provide all the ‘nice feminists’ [with an opportunity] to ‘sign up’ or ‘stfu’ about men’s issues.
Actually, Perrins’ little crusade itself offers ample evidence of both homophobia and racism.
The idea that a white dude in Canada — with basically no knowledge or understanding of Jamaican culture beyond what he’s managed to Google in a few minutes — can swoop in and save Jamaican gays from homophobia reflects a stunning sort of colonialist arrogance and, yes, racism.
What real activists do when they want to help those in other countries is that they look for existing activist groups — both in country and internationally — in order to understand what they’re doing already to fight the problem and how someone outside the country can best aid their efforts.
In the case of Jamaica, the most prominent LGBT activist group is the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) — which has in the past been strenuously opposed to boycotts like that proposed by Perrins.
Indeed, when a group of American LGBT activists tried to launch a Boycott Jamaica campaign in 2009 — also without checking in with JFLAG first — the Jamaican group found itself having to explain in detail why a boycott was not in the best interest of those the boycott was ostensibly trying to help:
Jamaica’s deeply ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality and homosexuals is a social phenomenon that will not be undone by boycott campaigns or government dictate. It requires the painstaking effort of confronting the society and talking to social actors who can bring change in the way society sees LGBT people. We have been doing this through a small but growing group of increasingly aware opinion leaders who are concerned about the damage homophobia does to our society. We need those ears to continue being open to us and we need the relative safety that some of us have been given to speak to them.
The group also took the American activists to task for their obvious ignorance about gay activism in Jamaica — as evidenced by their targeting of Red Stripe beer, despite Red Stripe’s cooperation with Jamaican LGBT activists and its refusal to sponsor anti-gay reggae performers.
We believe that any overseas entity or organisation seeking to agitate for change in a context with which it has only passing familiarity should first do its homework to ensure that it does not do harm to its credibility and ultimately to the cause of the local community whose interest it seeks to defend.
So, yeah. White people, try not to assume that you know better than black people how to solve the problems of black people. Especially when you don’t actually know shit. Because that’s racist.
As for homophobia, well, I think it’s pretty clear that any (alleged) gay rights campaign that starts from the assumption that Jamaican lesbians have it great is pretty homophobic. AVFMers are the only (alleged) gay rights activists I’ve ever run across who not only think it’s ok to ignore the L, B and T of LGBT but who also enjoy attacking transwomen as self-hating self-castrators and tossing around anti-lesbian slurs for fun. (Indeed, see this anti-lesbian screed from an AVFM regular in the comments to Perrins’ post.)
Meanwhile, the 2nd most energetic Twitter propagandist for the #BJ4Equality campaign, our old friend Fidelbogen, is a fellow who, only a day before the campaign launched was tossing around slurs on Twitter aimed at gay and/or effeminate men. In Jamaica, one of the standard slurs for gay men is “batty boy.” Fidelbogen likes the similar term “poodle boy.”
— Fidelbogen (@fidelbogen) August 11, 2013
According to Urban Dictionary, “Poodle Boy” means
A guy who’s a little too much in touch with his fem side. Walks with a sashey and holds his left wrist to his upper chest while gliding forward with his right. Understands house plants and window dressings.
Fidelbogen, mocking gay men one day before launching his career as a putative gay rights activist.
A Voice for Men, so full of hatred and bigotry that they can’t even pull off a momentarily convincing simulacrum of social justice activism.
* The murdered teen has been identified in news accounts as a crossdressing gay male. Some have also described the teen as a transwoman, but it isn’t clear from what I’ve read if the teen identified as one. Hence my use of the term “gender-nonconforming,” which is the terminology used by JFLAG in its statements on the case.