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6836: 6929: Sexuality scholarship--McAlister comments (fwd (fwd)

From: Martine Jean <alix3@hotmail.com>

Elizabeth McAlister wrote:

"For scholars to work on sexuality in Haiti,
including aspects of homosexuality within Vodou culture, is to afford Haiti
the same scholarly attention that is now being paid to US, France, Nigeria,"

A couple of question regarding this assertion:

Who are these scholars analyzing sexuality in Haiti? What is their cultural 
background? What position are they trying to prove in their study?

These questions might seem unnecessary for many members of this list. But 
they are very important in the flow of information regarding Haiti (any 
third world country for that matter) that is being spread out there. Indeed, 
I realized that many posted that homosexuality was a normal fact in Vodou. 
Most of them are putting this as a generalization to prove some "difference" 
in the way sexuality is perceived and expressed in this religion. However, 
these generalizations are suspect not only as such but also because the 
people who are emitting them are from a particular culture where 
homosexuality is not considered okay and normal (despite many measures 
against that stance)in "established and accepted" civilized societies. 
Therefore, these people because of their own acceptance of this social 
behavior may be attempting to prove its acceptance as normal in other 
cultures and "Vodou" as the long rejected and despised sheep is suddenly 
being dressed in "white" by the same culture which has rejected it to serve 
their own interest.

I'm not an expert in vodou but that would surprise me if homosexuality was 
accepted as a normal behavior in that religion. I took a class in African 
history recently and the subjects of gender and gender roles in African 
societies were explored. It was a total discovery for me to learn of the 
different ways African cultures perceive and define sex and sexual roles 
(particularly the Yorubas). For example, the Yorubas do not define women
as the contrary of men as in western cultures. A woman is thus not the 
country of a man. They don't have gender specific names for brothers and 
sisters either.

What does that have to do with this topic? A little patience.

Now in Yoruba religion it is observed that in the ceremony to Shango (a male 
god) the women practitioners (If I'm correct) identified themselves as 
Shango's husband. Likewise, the people of any particular clan (men and 
women, precolonial Africa) consider themselves as the "husband" of a woman 
who has married a man in the clan. I'm sure that coming from a culture where 
sex roles are sharply defined, many of us may jump to the conclusions that 
these people consider homosexuality as a normal behavior. But that would 
just be the result of our perception of what gender relations should be by 
our society's standards. In fact, the women are Shango's husband because 
they are a member of the clan and their relation to Shango is only symbolic. 
Likewise, the women of the clan are the other woman's husband because of 
their status as clan members.

Considering that Haitian Vodou originated from Africa, I'm pretty sure that 
there are many of these symbolic behaviors "practiced" in the limits of the 
religions that bring many "scholars" to just assume that homosexuality is 
accepted as normal and okay in this religion; and that only to justify their 
own hidden political stance. Finally, like someone already pointed out in 
this list, most if not any generalization on Vodou cannot stand when put to 
the test because of the "decentralized" and non-dogmatic character of this 


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