By Lineo Segoete
In a culture that generally rests on compulsory heterosexuality, it is unheard of to lodge anything but persecution and degradation of feminism, homosexuality and anything that does not subscribe to traditional (read conservative) blueprints of masculinity and gender perceptions. The male is the head, tough, like thunder and the protector; he abates his feminine side therefore inhibiting his ability to show affection and compassion. It is this mentality that many of our military men hold and boldly defend in their attitude toward women and LGBTIS people.
We saw images on the internet of Ugandan soldiers burning homosexuals caught breaking the law or those in Sudan abducting and raping women. Soldiers in Lesotho are as not that great an exception; they blurted obscenities at a recent IDAHOT march (on Saturday, 17 May) as their truck drove past the crowd, mighty and glorious in their machismo and misogyny. In keeping with tradition some took the liberty of hitting on the “pretty girls” within the crowd thereby striking the perfect balance of their patriarchal brainwashing.
Many heterosexual males blame homosexuality on a matriarchal upbringing. The general perception is that men who lack a strong male connection in their upbringing are prone to develop female habits and personalities. To put it more bluntly: many straight men think gay men are so because they want to become or consider themselves females. Not only is this thinking absurd, it is lazy and haphazard. What of womanisers who were reared by matriarchs and surrounded by many sisters and aunts?
The word soldier here should be embraced in its entirety: It represents military men and other forms of male fraternities; from Ras Tafari brethren, Hip Hop artists, sportsmen, corporate men and Seminary men because these groups are also just as brutal in their stance against homos and their ideologies on the perfect model of a virtuous woman.
In his view, the soldier believes that the right kind of woman is one who keeps her silence, mammies the children, knows where the red belt is, cooks and cleans. Being domesticated has nothing to do with gender but with the individual (not everyone who loves to cook is good cook either, think about it). There is much more to being female and to being LGBTI than being perceived as weak, and they should not be generalised as being one thing either.
The IDAHOT march was one of the best acts of solidarity I have ever been a part of, I loved observing voyeurs’ reactions, answering questions and even the bit of negativity that came in the form of macho soldiers in their green truck, I thought to myself: “this is exactly what we are marching for!”. I liked the confusion we all caused as well because heterosexual or LGBTI we marched in unison and this struck the public on a personal level. Many people saw at least one person in the crowd that they identified with which to me said there is room for us to connect if we’d just stop being stiff brutes living on dated principles that only strengthen division and resistance to change in this dynamic world.