Coming from an all-boys school, you could really expect the campus to have a pervading sense of masculinity, given all the testosterone condensed into one area, 5 days a week. There tends to be a certain sense as well of rowdiness among students from these schools, but from an insider’s point of view, it’s a way of life, a norm. It’s something very normal, and things that are seen as normal tend to not be seen as things needing change. As such, what may seem as a rude or noisy way of speaking among themselves to some people, to the point of even seeming like fighting, is in fact very casual talk.
This sort of setup may instill a lot of positive things, such as a sense of brotherhood and being in an environment you can truly relate to, but it is prone to negatives as well. One of these negatives is that there are a few more specific norms present in a group of same-sexed people, and deviating from these can get you into trouble with your peers. And a big issue for me is how the concept of manliness has been shaped among adolescents today. There are many smaller issues that come along with this, but what I’d like to focus on is the ideas of “masculine” and “feminine” being opposites, much like how we can consider our two biological sexes, male and female, as opposites. I’d like to go further by saying that we generally tend to associate masculine with men, and feminine with women, which is something I believe is hard to dispute as a generalization.
The deviation that may then arise from this supposed “norm” is a mismatch of gender and sex, and specifically for our all-boys school case, it is being a feminine male. And the negative attitude towards the concept of a feminine male is, in my opinion, best exemplified by the prevalent usage of “gay” or “bakla” as an insult among all-boys schools students. This is based on my own experience, and I have (sadly) used it as such myself, much like most other guys I knew. You could hear it often in computer game shops, where it is often used to call out people who refuse challenges within games, or try to seek an unfair advantage within the game. It also tends to be associated with moments of fear or chickening out, or getting into awkward moments with other guys. And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t only occur in exclusive schools. This is, in fact, only one aspect of a very broad context of bullying those who identify themselves as homosexuals, who may not only have to endure bullying to them directly, but the gender they identify themselves with is even used as an insult, and ends up getting associated with negative values.
These, in turn, speak of the way people tend to view homosexuals in general. Their very association with negatives says a lot. I am thus glad that I have been offered a much different perspective entering the University. I have seen first-hand someone frown upon the use of “gay” as an insult, and my generally hearing these has been much less. It is comforting to know that other people are also experiencing slowly this more progressive viewpoint. But there is still a long, long way to go, however. This is, once again, only one small aspects of the big picture, the big problem. Creating awareness though, at least in this aspect, is a step in itself towards making positive change in the mindsets of people.
– Jude Benedict T. Geron