A woman from the east Kingston area is nursing injuries to her face, back and hands in the form of cuts after a brawl at a lively gambling table on East Queen Street around three in the afternoon. The incident occurred as a series very lively games of corn seed bingo, crown and anchor and cards with money involved were in session at the four tables respectively; an accusation however of cheating or mishandling of the game by one man led to an argument which quickly grew into a brawl, the woman who tried to calm the tempers was in essence turned against by one man at first but it quickly moved to three others joining the fray as harsh words and expletives were thrown around at each other.
According to a witness things got really heated when two of the men got physical with each other and what appeared to be one of the men bumping into the lesbian woman who in turned bumped into another man sent the verbal clash into another place. The corn seeds used for the games were scattered, the gambling tables were shifted out of place and a crowd had gathered by the top of the lane adjoining the location of the incident with some looking puzzled or laughing dependent on what they saw.
The woman who is seen as a friend to several of the men suddenly found herself the subject of Lesbophobic verbal abuse as she and ‘her kind’ was accused of taking away ‘good woman’ an accusation used in such melee to stigmatise and vilify butch identified women, the usual ‘man royal’ term accusation seemed missing from this one when I queried if it was used. As the fight continued a knife was pulled by one of the men on another and the outcome of the bumping became evident, the woman got in a tussle with another man apart from the one who had bumped into her after she reportedly made a threatening remark to him which he did not take kindly.
He grabbed her locked hair as they fought for about half a minute but was parted by a hefty bleached face woman who was her friend (none intimately) who owns a nearby food establishment of which the lesbian is a regular customer alongside other persons. She sustained cuts to her hands inflicted by the knife as she sought to defend herself and a necklace she was wearing was damaged and was on the sidewalk. Threats from all angles were heard as the brawl cooled to a standoff, persons attempted to go to the nearby Central Kingston police station after proclaiming their intent but they were dissuaded from doing so. The visibly upset woman and others vowed that ‘it wasn’t over’ and in Jamaican thinking some sort of retribution is implied. Things cooled eventually and the woman and others were seen conversing at a bar across the street.
A similar challenge occurred in Half Way Tree Square by the bus/taxi bay in 2015 also had as one of the injured parties an identified lesbian who was once seen as one of the boys given her mannerisms. The origin of that one was unclear but the disruption led to her shirt being grabbed by another man, her face being slapped up even as she also managed to deliver blows to her assailant much to the delight of a cheering crowd of passers-by comprising school children and adults alike.
Though there were no major injuries or known ones similar Lesbophobic terms were flying around then and always seem to come to the surface whenever there is a disagreement then one hears one is this or that. In 2016 there was another such clash though short lived in downtown Kingston along Barry Street at the infamous bleaching cream and street side hair dresser area where men and women buy and use or have applied creams and have their hair extensions added for a small fee. A fight broke out after one accused another of having them wait so long for services, butch identified woman who was among the crowd clashed with other women after she blasted them for being too petty allegedly. One woman sustained a cut to the face and police who were patrolling on Princess Street eventually came by to quell the melee.
The issue of using or resorting to violent reactions to solve simply quarrels comes to the fore and it happens all too easily. While butch identified or masculine acting women suffer way less challenges turning into violent episodes that does not discount the possibility of those such incidents occurring. The often ‘one of the boys’ phenomenon mentioned on this blog usually carries through as sometimes surprisingly men almost welcome them into their social circles. The women take on or display similar traits in behaviour such as ganja smoking and mode of dress and or even go as far as ‘looking women’ for sexual favours for mostly the men involved. There has been this old belief by some that having a ‘man royal’ friend can bring benefits of having more women for sex so the man somehow tolerate known lesbians in that regard. The mannerisms of the women only add to the tolerance level as the language and slangs are adapted or adopted by the lesbians probably to fit into the group.
Strangely our homosocial yet homophobic culture accommodates this type of union with lesbians and heterosexual men but when things go sour that tolerance level is thrown out the window and suddenly her sexuality becomes a problem and is used against her to demonise or belittle her. The ‘one of the boys’ phenomenon includes partying, flossing, skin bleaching and similar modes of dress. Lowered pants, exposed underwear or boxers and other identifying markers or masculinity and or bravado linked to thuggery or thug life that projects some sort of strength. In presenting those physical traits or presentation the lesbians who subscribe to such are easily subsumed into the male social circles while strangely or uniquely the other women (femme types) are not allowed that kind of close access or intermingling in a male circle. In other words to lesbians be like one of us and our circle and you’ll be accepted in a sense.
An earlier phone stealing ring matter in court in 2016 for example had implicated in the mix a butch identified woman so much so that the very judge hearing the matter quizzed the woman as to her mode of dress as she was little hard to identify her, the poor judge must have been puzzled not used to the presentation before her. Her (lesbian) association with a group of men in the ring was also questioned in court at the time but what the judge was not mindful was that she was able to ‘fit in’ (outside of assimilation) and have a cordial relationship with her male accused.
Peace & tolerance