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Gender Symposium Explores Male Identity

By ALESHA CADET Tribune Features Reporter THE ACADEMIC community explored representations of black masculinity in the Caribbean at the Women's Suffrage Movement Symposium last Friday. Under a broad look at gender equality, presenters addressed the complex question of how society influences the male identity. Darius Bost of the University of Maryland delivered a powerful presentation on the controversial, yet popular reggae song "Boom Bye Bye", by well known Jamaican reggae artist Buju Banton. Speaking via a skype presentation in Performing Arts Center at the College of the Bahamas (COB) , Mr Bost told the viewing audience that the controversy surrounding Banton's song goes back as far back as 2009, when Jamaican scholar Carolyn Cooper discussed the lyrics in an article entitled "Buju Banton's Original Sin". According to Mr Bost, Ms Cooper argued that the sin was a youthful interpretation of biblical principles against homosexuality through "imported Hollywood gun culture and calling judgment on sinners for the crimes of pedophile, buggery and rape". Boom Bye Bye's lyrics have been read as a threat of violence against gay men, Mr Bost said. He said the violent lyrics support Banton's performance of black masculinity by constructing the "Batty Boy" as a phobic object of his testimony. Mr Bost told the audience that his overall interest was not about examining the song's lyrics, but rather the narrative structure of the song. "I seek to explore why the child victim is erased from the narrative of the song, if Banton's song does indeed witness to the rape of a male child," he said. "While violently labeling the perpetrator as homosexual deviant that deserves death, Banton simultaneously vanishes the male child victim." Mr Bost theorized that Banton's omission of the child from his testimony in the song reveals the limits of his identification with the victim. "It also allows him to keep in tact, the myth of childhood innocence," he added. According to media reports, the popular "Boom Bye Bye" song led to a number of Banton's shows being canceled in 2009, due to protest and Facebook campaigns from gay rights advocacy groups.

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