Round Table with Oscar
February 19, 2013

‘Bubby’ must be cherished, penis must be schooled

When I heard recently that a small gang of youth had beaten and raped a schoolgirl, I enquired: How old is the girl? One man explained simply: “She ha bubby”. That “explanation” is almost as criminal as the crime itself.{{more}}


As a girl’s breasts blossom and a boy’s penis lengthens, there is a biology lesson to be taught and learned in the CXC curriculum, but that is not all there is to it. Onto the masculine and the feminine body systems, we submit to another chemistry and another physics, we come to admire, to respect, to desire, to cherish and worship and even seek to grab hold of and overpower and colonise/terrorise what draws us towards the sexual other.

Yes, in the school there is a CXC curriculum series in biology and family/social studies, but there is also another curriculum and the “text books” are in the songs, their nearness, the movies and smart-phones, the frustrated home affections and the eruptions of hormones in the blood. And often, the moral and spiritual text-books and teachers are really far away from the action, almost in a different world.
Let me put it this way. During the 15 or so years while we place our children in fine schools with certificated and graduate teachers and take care of their instructional menu, we provide very little proactive attention to experiences in shaping human maleness and human femaleness. And then we are taken aback when gender seems to interfere with the expected outcomes of the school system. Consider this.
School years are the years when many young males take on forceful behaviours and gangland lifestyles. School years are the years when sexual and emotional life erupts. School years are the years when girls and boys reach for womanhood and manhood. School years are the years now when bisexual and homosexual practices develop. Today’s school years are the years when (male) teacher-student sexual intercourse becomes normal. Gender is the curriculum during the school years and I wonder how seriously our community, our ministry of education and our CXC take this fact into their design, plan and monitoring of our schooling population.


When a student passes one of our regional examinations, it is the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) that hands over a certificate to mark the success. That is how the formal education system works. But in the informal (e.g. gender) education system, a pass mark is given by the community, either through our silence, our quiet remark or pull string, or by a disruptive contest. When members of the community across India took to the streets to denounce the gang rape and murder of a student in Delhi that was their grading of the crime.
Their announcement was that women must live and be loved. It is we who say “yes” to gender violence and rape, or yes to gender harmony and tolerance. When the gentleman described the 13-year-old child as that “she ha bubby”, he spoke for many. “It is alright to sexually assault a girl if her breasts are blossoming”. He gives a pass mark to the informal gender instruction in the school system. And so, such events pass into the informal records as “common law” precedents for female subjugation, zombification of the female, boy a responsibility, and our school and community culture. We give rape a pass mark in our school curriculum – quietly, cruelly.


Can we make “Learning, and Loving”, become the major courses in our school system? Is Earl ‘Ole George’ Daniel, along with other personal consultants, a source of guidance? Can political economy and cultural history open our eyes to new ways of becoming male and female? It is time to redeem the time, to give the justice system and the rehab system new modes of handling cases, make high and low face the same security and account. It is time to for us to retreat from one of the deadly sins of Caribbean colonial history. The gender curriculum must no longer be informal and informally manipulated.

Bubby must be cherished, penis must be schooled.