Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer

Navigating the liminal space between childhood and manhood in the Caribbean. How are cultural spaces and physical places divided between the sexes?

Abstract

Space is gendered. Private domestic space is classically considered to be a woman’s domain while public space is masculine. Of course, men are found in private spaces and women in public, but ownership is a reference to those who typically exercise day-to-day control of that space. It should be remembered, however, that women frequently act as proxies for men in private spaces too; in much of the world, domestic space is inherited by men who are traditionally considered heads-of-the-household. To complicate matters, masculinity comes in many forms and to reconcile these wide variations with narrow, widely-held stereotypes, Connell introduced the term hegemonic masculinity. We take this term as referring to idealised cultural stereotypes related to orthodox masculinity, which provide virtual benchmarks for manhood but which exist nowhere in their absolute form. Nevertheless, these stereotypes serve to map out male domains and they can hence also serve to exclude women, thus making space gendered. We further argue that a potent means of mapping gender domains is through taboos: these taboos designate physical places and cultural spaces that men should not be associated with and doing so can pose grave risks to a reputation and sometimes result in violent retribution. We explore how masculine obligations and taboos construct boundaries between both male and female domains (intergender divides) and create distance between the domains of ‘real’ men and males who fail to measure up (intragender divides). In particular, we will focus on how the passage to manhood is both deeply affected by, and translates into the everyday character, praxis and ownership of public space with particular reference to manhood in the Caribbean.

Published:
Pages:5 to 14
Section: Overview
How to Cite
Plummer, D., Geofroy, S. and Alvarez, A. (2017) “Navigating the liminal space between childhood and manhood in the Caribbean. How are cultural spaces and physical places divided between the sexes?”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(1), pp. 5-14. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i1.46.

Downloads

Total Abstract Views: 238  Total PDF Downloads: 146

Author Biographies

James Cook University
Australia Australia

David Plummer is an international development specialist and Adjunct Professor in Public Health at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. David holds a PhD in health sociology from the Australian National University. He has expertise in public health and health sociology. David has worked in the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Africa. Previously he was Senior Advisor at the Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, where he specialised in health and international development; he held a joint Commonwealth/UNESCO Chair at the University of the West Indies, where he worked in Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries; he was an Adjunct Professor in Public Health at the University of Texas, Houston. Most recently he was Professor and Head of Population Health at Griffith University. In 2003, David was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to public and community health.

University of the West Indies
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago

Stephen Geofroy teaches both undergraduate and post-graduate levels in the School of Education, The University of West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. He lectures in Education Foundations and Teacher Education with focus on the Philosophy of Education and the Teaching of Social Sciences. Previous he lectured undergraduates in philosophy in the Department of History and Philosophy at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of West Indies, Barbados.  His PhD research is titled “From whom do they take their lead? A study of masculine identity construction by male youth in contemporary Trinidad and implications for schooling”.  His research interests are in Teacher Education, the Teaching of Social & Cultural Studies, Masculinities & Education, Gender & Religion, the Teaching of Philosophy, Ethics & Education, and the Philosophy of Catholic Education.

Alonso Alvarez holds a degree in History and International Relations from San Francisco State University and a Master's Degree in Globalisation, Business and Sustainable Development from the University of East Anglia. He has worked in the development sector, particularly with NGOs, in Brazil, Ecuador, Cambodia, Thailand, and Peru. He is currently based in Istanbul where he conducts research for the mass media. 

References

Allsopp, R. (1996). Dictionary of Caribbean English usage. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.

Arnot, M., & Mac an Ghaill, M, (2006). (Re) contextualizing gender studies in education. In M. Arnot & M. Mac an Ghaill (eds.) The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Gender & Education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Bailey, W., C. Branche, and A. Henry-Lee (2002). Gender, contest and conflict in the Caribbean. Mona, Jamaica: Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Research (SALISES).

Booker, L. (2016). What it means to be gender-fluid. Retrieved from: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/13/living/gender-fluid-feat/

Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York, NY: Routledge.

Campbell, W. (2013). We need to rescue our boys. Jamaica Observer. Retrieved from: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/mobile/columns/We-need-to-rescue-our-boys_13713971

Chevannes, B. (1999). What we sow and what we reap—problems in the cultivation of male identity in Jamaica. Kingston, Jamaica: Grace Kennedy Foundation.

Coney, N. (2015). Performing Genders: A Study of Gender Fluidity. From: http://digitalcommons.linfield.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1008&context=soanstud_theses

Connell RW (1995), Masculinities. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

Crichlow, W. E. A. (2004). History, (Re)memory, testimony and biomythography: charting a buller Man’s Trinidadian past. In R. E. Reddock (ed.), Interrogating Caribbean masculinities (pp. 185–222). Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.

DuBois, D. and M. Karcher. 2005. Handbook of youth mentoring. London: Sage Publications.

Figueroa, M. (2004). Male privileging and male academic underperformance in Jamaica. In R. E. Reddock (Ed.), Interrogating Caribbean masculinities. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.

Gilmore, D.D. (1990). Manhood in the Making. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Haywood, C., Popoviciu, L., Mac An Ghaill, M. (2005). Feminisation and schooling: Re-masculinisation, gendered reflexivity and boyness. Irish Journal of Sociology. 14(2), 193 – 212.

Joyce, R. (2013). Where a Gender Spectrum May Be Taking Us. Retrieved from Psychology today website: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-makes-us-human/201307/where-gender-spectrum-may-be-taking-us

Lewis, T. (2008). No Role Models for Black Youths. Trinidad and Tobago Express, July 5, 2008.

Mac an Ghaill, M. (1994). The making of men. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Messerschmidt, James W. (1994). Schooling, Masculinities and Youth Crime by White Boys. In Just Boys Doing Business: Men, Masculinities and Crime, edited by Tim Newburn and Elizabeth A. Stanko, 81-99. London: Routledge.

Miller, E. (1986). The Marginalization of the Black Male: Insights from the Development of the Teaching Profession. Kingston, Jamaica: Institute of Social and Economic Research.

Parry, O. (2004). Masculinities, myths and educational under-achievement: Jamaica, Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines. In: Interrogating Caribbean masculinities ed. R. E. Reddock. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies.

Pascoe, C.J. (2007). Dude you’re a fag. Berkeley, CA: The Regents of the University of California.

Plummer, D. (2005). Crimes against manhood: homophobia as the penalty for betraying hegemonic masculinity. In: Perspectives in human sexuality, eds. G. Hawkes and J. Scott. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Plummer D. (2009). How risk and vulnerability become ‘socially embedded’: insights into the resilient gap between awareness and safety in HIV. In: Barrow C, de Bruin M, Carr R. Sexuality, Social exclusion & human rights: vulnerability in the Caribbean context of HIV. Kingston: Ian Randall Publishing.

Plummer, D. (2010). Is learning becoming taboo for Caribbean boys? In: Morrissey, Michael, Bernard, Myrna, and Bundy, Donald, (eds.) Challenging HIV & AIDS: a new role for Caribbean education. Paris, France: UNESCO) and Ian Randle Publishers.

Plummer D. (2013). Masculinity and risk: how gender constructs drive sexual risks in the Caribbean. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. 10(3): 165-174. DOI: 10.1007/s13178-013-0116-7.

Plummer, D. (2014). The ebb and flow of homophobia: a gender taboo theory. Sex Roles, 71 (3-4), 126-136.

Plummer, D. (2014). Masculinity and terror - The missing conversation. Retrieved from The Conversation website: https://theconversation.com/masculinity-and-terror-the-missing-conversation-32276

Plummer, D. (2016). Boys' Peer Cultures. In: The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies. 1–3.

Plummer D., Geofroy S. (2010). When bad is cool: violence and crime as rites of passage to manhood. Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, 4 (http://www2.sta.uwi.edu/crgs/february2010/journals/PlummerGeofory.pdf).

Plummer D., McLean A., Simpson J. (2008). Has learning become taboo and is risk-taking compulsory for Caribbean boys? Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, 2 (http://sta.uwi.edu/crgs/september2008/journals/DPlummerAMcleanJSimpson.pdf).

Reddock, R. (ed.). (2004). Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.

Rohlehr, G. (1990). Calypso & society in pre-independence Trinidad. Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

Stop Murder Music (2004). Dancehall Dossier. Outrage! Retrieved from http://outrage.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Dancehall-Dossier-FULL.pdf.

UWI (2010). Statistical Review: Academic Year 2009/2010. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies. Retrieved from https://www.mona.uwi.edu/opair/statistics/


Van Gennep, A. (1960). (French original edition 1908). The rites of passage. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Winer, L. (2009). Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago: On Historical Principles. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Zevallos, Z. (2014). Sociology of Gender. Retrieved from website The Other Sociologist https://othersociologist.com/sociology-of-gender/
Open Access Journal
ISSN 2206-9658