GENDER DIFFERENCE IN PRISONS
SEXUAL CONDITIONS IN MALE AND FEMALE PRISON FACILITIES
1. Male and female prisons while alike structurally exude an unusual climate as a result of gender difference.
1. For one, male prisons are pungent and this is so because males perspire a lot. Female prisons on the other hand, are relatively hygienic and sterile because women, well most of them, are fixated to cleanliness. Besides, male prisons are numerically superior, that is, more congested than female facilities.
1. In any homogenous setting, there will be aberration and prisons like most total institutions are not exempted. Where there is a concentration of all males, or for that matter, all females, there is usually a deviation in small percentage.
1. The deviation is gender based and this is exemplified by sexual preference.
1. Hence, in male prisons, there will always be the presence of a homosexual.
1. In female prisons, the same can be said as far as lesbianism is concerned.
1. Deviation in sexuality to a certain extent is complicated in terms of how an inmate projects his/ her preference.
1. Among homosexuals, there is the trans-sexual (bakla), the cross dresser (bading) and one who is infatuated or attracted to both sexes (silahis). Note that there is a term in the vernacular for each specific sexual preference. Those who exhibit these socially categorized gender variations are not necessarily convicted as result of the deviation but on some other contraventions or aspects. Thence, a homosexual may be convicted for murder or robbery as a result of his or her situation but not directly as far as his or her sexual condition is concerned. It may be a factor but never a starting point.
1. Another interesting aspect in this situation is the fact that in prison, there were certain departures in practices. In male prison, the homosexual is the one spending and sacrificing for his partner. In female prison it is the opposite. The female in the relationship with the lesbian (tomboy, t-bird) is the one supporting and sustaining the requirements, mostly personal, of the latter.
1. In both instances, as far as the projection of both homosexual and lesbian is concerned, the way they would carry themselves indicates a considerable statement of sexual characteristics. The manner they project their persona is very apparent. The male homosexual’s effeminate body language; the facial make up including the expression reveals instantly the status of the inmate and his role in the prison community. The same can be said about the female lesbian; her hair cropped to appear masculine, her gait very manly and even the way she would talk and express convey everything a male is wont to. Everything is hidden including the lump on the breast and complexion is even hardened to express machismo.
1. While it can be said that they (the lesbians) at times dictate the tempo of prison climate, their role is restricted and oftentimes subdued. They are literally hidden and their qualities concealed all throughout. They are mere shadows, a silhouette of what reality is in a total institution.
1. They are never an active participant in any program except when there are performances to be conducted. They are there to provide the necessary respite, the comical side and at times, a relief from the regular monotonous fare. For the male homosexuals, the gays, they are there providing the necessary lightheartedness of the situation. Their being gays connote and articulate anything less serious. On the other hand, lesbians are never gay at all although they are lumped under the same stereotype heading. Lesbians are serious, stern and staid. They are never to be poked fun with even though their antics are incongruous. Lesbians are more solemn, reserved and somber in their disposition. This characteristic, vital it may seem, is that quality that endures and made them appreciated by the womenfolk. This is repaid and rewarded by a strong binding relationship that could last for several years.
1. From a distance, this kind of relationship, seen from different perspective, may convince anyone that the prison community is a damaged culture. But for those in the prison community, this is normal as normalcy one can get given the stressful condition on the state of imprisonment.
1. Let me discuss the regular inmate, the so called normal, in the sense that they exhibit nothing of the extraordinary kind, the usual man, the usual woman, so to speak. Majority of inmates are married and therefore expected to be communicating or as the case maybe, visited regularly in prison. They are usually concentrated on how family life is pursued notwithstanding incarceration of the other half of the spouse. Sex in Philippine prisons lately would have been tolerated under conditions where it is allowed. There is the so called family day, a specific date where inmates receive their visitors and permitted to stay overnight. This is occasional.
1. Only in male facilities are these occasions sanctioned. In female facilities, there is no such thing as overnight stay for the husband, except for the child of the inmate, in some meritorious cases.
1. That is as far the married inmates are concerned. For the single and those married who are already estranged, the situation becomes complicated. There are pen-pals or acquaintances forged and there is the usual solicitation or temptation for sexual favors. It is here where inmates display an amazing gift of persuasion. Even visitors coming from the ranks of the religious, say among nuns, the way inmates could sway and dramatize; anyone can be won over and converted. There were even instances when members of a religious group, the Catholic Women’s League (or CWL), would spend time in the prison community preaching the good news would exceed their vows and later would become—from CWL to CLW, or common-law-wife!
1. There were even cases where a visitor, innocent as she was or perhaps too concerned on humanity, would be snatched psychologically to become instantly a willing partner and visitor to an inmate. The prison condition in addition to the way it is described is enough to induce on anyone the virtue of having to relate with an inmate. There are of course certain considerations that work along that line, like the vulnerability of the visitor, the gullibility even or sheer biological in defensiveness.
1. For those who would persevere to visit their respective spouses in prison, the response is positive for the visitor. Some would even attest to the fact that they are even grateful to incarceration for holding on to their spouses, otherwise, outside, they cannot account where their spouses are. At least, in prison, they are around whenever they come for the visit.
1. For those who came to know or gotten acquainted with the inmate while serving time, the relationship would last as long as the inmate is incarcerated. The visitor is lulled and reassured on the permanency of the relationship, providing stories, promises and pledges of loyalty and fidelity to sustain the visit and assistance. Until finally, when release is almost seen, there will be minute changes which cannot be discerned by the visitors. The visitor is slowly introduced to another so that her attention would shift on another. Once release is at hand, the visitor is not even informed, only to be surprised that the inmate she once visited regularly has already left. Any one released, experience would show and cases are even replete, never bothered to look back and would rather travel alone. To tag along anyone is burdensome and at times, inconvenient for them. As a consequence, the visitor continuously visits the prisons but this time around, visiting another inmate in lieu of the one released.
1. Inmates cannot escape the need for sexual expression; they are human beings, animals with biological requirements, in the first place. Prison unfortunately is one communal place where sexual deviation and derangement are instantly fulfilled through aberrant behavior. It is the mind of inmates that suffer most in those communal trying times and it would take almost three years—-the adage, everything comes every three applies—before an inmate can be accustomed to the artificial environments he was, by operation of law, required to remain as he was.
1. If this is a recurring theme in male prison, the inverse is obtaining in female facilities. While it can be said that there are lesbian or sexual aberration happening in female correctional ward, it is not as pronounced as in male prison. Female inmates are subdued and suppressed not necessarily because of environment but because of their innate capacity for self-control and biological discipline. It is an overstatement to declare that female inmates are sexually preoccupied and therefore a hazardous mob, like male inmates, given the opportunity to express their sexual desires.
1. In a correctional setting, gender is not only a matter of segregating or separating the sexes. It is more than that. As a matter of course, it is an important and a significant factor. It is in managing and determining how libido is discretely conveyed or articulated that matters. This may be a bit a trivial concern but when violence and hostility occurs, sexual causation or inducement is almost behind it.