There is a paradigm currently, and according to which domestic violence is ‘a gendered crime’ that is, that most perpetrators are men, and most victim women. I have exposed in another post the origins of such paradigm, and how, despite being false, ideologically motivated, and, above all, unscientific, it has nevertheless come to control the campaigning field, especially in Britain (click here to read it).
What I want to do now, is to focus especially on one of the many counter-productive consequences trailing behind such dogma: the ignoring of violence perpetrated by women, against other women.
From an ideological standpoint, of course, airbrushing women being domestically abused by other women is perfectly understandable. Acknowledging female violence against other female would be to put women face to face with their own abusive behaviours when in a relationship, a moral imperative which is, obviously, anathema to the ‘gendered view’ of abuse, according to which, on the contrary, women are so economically and politically ‘disempowered’ that they cannot possibly be abusive behind closed doors (but ought to be victimised only).
And, indeed, if you believe the popular assumptions that domestic abuse is ‘gendered’ that is, perpetrated by men mostly because motivated by the patriarchy (male authority in their households), that women cannot initiate physical assaults and aggression unless ‘out of self-defence’, and/or that women cannot possibly engage in coercive, manipulative, and controlling behaviours because supposedly too ‘disempowered’ for that, then you could be excused to believe that domestic violence perpetrated by women against other women is either inexistent, or, at least, extremely marginal.
The point is: you’ll be dead wrong.
Now, lesbians and bi women, of course, have been neglected for a whole set of reasons, many tied up to the history of the LGBTQ+ movement and that of homophobia/ biphobia which has permeated our society. Sadly, though, the diverting battle around the ‘gendered narrative’ (no matter how bogus such narrative to start with) has done absolutely nothing to prevent their fall through the cracks. While most women organisations have been fiercely campaigning to blame the patriarchy and male supremacy at home for domestic violence, and while men organisations have been struggling to get their voices heard when it comes to challenge such false ideological assumption, anybody else not falling neatly into such heteronormative, binary model when it comes to romantic/ sexual relationships has been left dead cold, out on the side-line (from gay and lesbians to bi and trans; and, for trans, no matter how they identify in terms of sexual orientations).
That the ‘gendered narrative’, though, has been next to useless in terms of professional responses shouldn't surprise us. After all, since most frontline personnel are being trained, either by various offshoots of the ideologically motivated women organisations who control the campaigning field, or, by projects fully subscribing to their false, patriarchal views, women being abused by women can only suffer as collateral damage. The police are the perfect example: because their useless training in matter of domestic disputes has lead them to see women as most likely to be victims, and men as probably perpetrators (even if they are the ones who made the call and/ or show injuries!) it has left them completely powerless, and so unable to respond appropriately, in these situations where, well, there are no men to blame but two women only being involved.
Far more concerning, however, is how this bogus ‘gendered narrative’ has had, above all, damaging consequences, especially in some of the more serious and heinous forms of domestic violence there is: cases involving marital rape.
It’s not the purpose of this post to retrace the hijacking of the legal field by radical feminists ideologues such as Susan Brownmiller, Andrea Dworkin, or, more importantly, Catherine McKinnon; nor is it, then, to delve into how and why, under their influence, rape has come to be viewed as most people now sees it that is, having supposedly been, historically, an oppressive mean used by *all* men to control and subjugate *all* women, with the male penis being described as a symbolic tool those purpose is to colonise (brutally if need be) the female body. Suffice to say, here, that such radical feminist ideology has branded its mark into our judiciary system: in Britain, the legal definition of ‘rape’ remains that of a 'penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth by a penis'. Being deprived of a penis, then, women, quite simply, cannot be found guilty of it.
How many women have been 'raped' by other women? How many lesbians and bi women have been maritally 'raped', as part of a domestically abusive relationships?
The answer is quite difficult to assert with certitude, since, according to the law, backed up by these neo-feminists contending that rape can only be masculine by nature, women raped by women are victims of a crime which, well, doesn't exist (and hop! Under the bus!). And yet...
The few figures we have on the issue are everything but ‘marginal’. When Broken Rainbow was still operating, it reported that, out of 1 in 3 lesbian women who had experienced domestic abuse, 40% had experienced sexual violence. Needless to say, the law not acknowledging that simple reckoning makes but for a shattering impact upon the people concerned. When Sam, a lesbian in her thirties, recalled how she had been raped by her partner, she pointed indeed at how such radfem gibberish gone mainstream -zooming only onto the 'patriarchally oppressive male penis'- had led to her traumatic experience being negated:
“How do you say to your friends, ‘My girlfriend rapes me’ when their only mental definition of rape is a man forcing his penis inside a woman’s vagina? How do you say you were assaulted when it comes back to the idea of ‘that doesn’t count’?’
The cruel ’that doesn’t count’ she pointed at goes, obviously, far beyond airbrushing lesbians and bi women’s experiences of the domestic abuse they are going through. Because the 'gendered narrative' has completely hijacked and monopolised the campaigning field, it has, also, badly impacted funding.
Indeed, since the debate has been gendered to mostly victimise straight women only (the ones victims of male violence, upon which the focus has been fully put on) only these organisations supporting straight women victims of male violence have been getting most of the financial pie. As a result, everybody else, especially these organisations campaigning for victims of female violence (no less prevalent nor negligeable when it comes to intimate relationships) have been left, pretty much, to feed on crumbs -be it those supporting men, or those supporting LGBTQ+. In other words: if you’re not a straight woman being abused by a man, well, tough luck sister! But we’ll happily throw you under the bus, just to preserve the dogma: ‘domestic-violence-is-a-gendered-crime-and-it-s-the-patriarchy- stupid’. Do. Not. Question.
And yet, questioning we must; especially since, again, female perpetrated violence against others female is everything but marginal. In fact, women are more at risk of experiencing domestic violence when in relationship with other women than when in relationships with men.
I’m pretty sure most of you are flying over this post just to get the gist of it, and so I don’t think most of you have grasped, here, the full meaning of this last statement. Let me, then, repeat it:
Women, entering into intimate relationships with other women, are more at risk of experiencing domestic violence, than women in relationships with men.
Do you believe that domestic abuse is a ‘gendered crime’ that is, that men are the vast majority of perpetrators and women the majority of their victims? Well, here, you can kiss your sexist worldview goodbye, for it’s nothing but baloney.
Of course, it’s hard enough, in a society still marred by misogyny (a misogyny portraying women as weak, meek, passive, submissive, fearful coy so ‘disempowered’ that they have no control even in their intimate, romantic relationships – a view that even neo-feminists have embraced, go figure) to admit that women are, in fact, everything but, and so can be as capable of being angry, jealous, toxic, dysfunctional, aggressive, violent, manipulative, controlling and coercive as men. The reader can therefore be excused, here, to find having to admit to women being even more abusive against other women than men are against them to be mindboggling -to say the least.
The available statistic and data, though, are unequivocable. Unequivocable too is that, overall, such abuse is far from being ‘garden variety’, as domestic abuse perpetrated by women (if at all acknowledged!) has often been described.
In the USA, as of 2018, the NCDV reported that if 35% of heterosexual women had experienced domestic abuse, this number jumped to 43.8% for homosexual women. The same pattern can be seen in the UK. Broken Rainbow, again, who had reported that out of 1 in 3 homosexual women who had experienced domestic abuse 40% had experienced sexual violence, also reported that 70% of these women had also experienced emotional abuse (so much for 'women don’t engage in coercive control'), and 40% had experienced physical violence (so much for 'women never initiate physical assaults, unless out of self-defence’). The pattern has also been consistent over time. LGBT Hero, for instance, recently highlighted it, by quoting a study from Stonewall and that had yielded nearly similar results: out of 1 in 4 lesbians and bisexual women who reported having experienced domestic violence, two third (that is, the majority) had another woman as a perpetrator -not a man.
That people are more likely to be domestically abused by members of their own gender is not the sole prerogative of lesbians. The same applies, in fact, to gay men as well, with 1 homosexual or bisexual man out of 3 reporting having experienced domestic abuse, as opposed to 1 in 6 heterosexual men (although, we also know that heterosexual men are twice less likely to report domestic abuse than women...). In fact, that domestic violence tends to be more prevalent among queer relationships than among straight ones has been outlined yet in another report, published in 2018 and titled ‘Free to Be People: LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse’, and those conclusions could not be any more unequivocable:
‘The limited available research also suggests that some LGBT+ people experience domestic abuse at a higher rate than non-LGBT+ people.’
And, here too, the data offered were telling. Apart from harassment/stalking and controlling jealousy, where figures were roughly similar to that of non-LGBT+, the levels of physical and sexual abuse were higher (respectively: 57% and 21% among non-LGBT+, as opposed to 64% and 28% among LGBT+).
It’s not the purpose of this post to outline why such incidence is higher. The purpose of this post, again, is to show how counter-productive is the bogus 'gendered narrative' peddled by women organisations when it comes to support such demographics, especially when such demographics are women themselves.
If we really care about victims, then we must have the honesty to face the music. When most such lobbies are relentlessly peddling the ‘gendered narrative’ (that is, abuse is mostly men-perpetrated, and ‘patriarchally motivated’) then entrusting them in supporting LGBT victims of domestic violence (especially when such victims are women) is to expect these same people fuelling the problem to solve the problem. How so?
We quoted above a study by Stonewall, and which had made it clear that, of these women identifying as lesbians or bi, the majority (2/3) had experienced abuse not at the hands of men, but other women. This, when it comes to LGBT women, therefore demands not only to address the real prevalence and impact of female perpetrated violence but, also, a shift in focus from male perpetrated abuse to female perpetrated one when it comes to such women victims. Well: this hasn't happened. At all.
For one obvious reason.
According to LGBT Hero, one of the commonest myths pertaining to queer relationships, and that further contribute to victimise them, is:
‘a false belief that the ability to abuse is dependent on the power dynamics that exist in heteronormative relationship…’
‘…sometimes, abusers will use this myth to try and manipulate the survivor and convince them that they aren’t being abused.’
What this means, then, is that the ideological narrative according to which domestic violence is a ‘gendered crime’ leads to a double whammy. On the one hand, the peddling of the idea that abuse is patriarchal by nature (it's men who do it, women can only be victims -if they engage in it, it's only out of 'self-defence') has led to these demographics not concerned by the patriarchal model (women in relationships with women, then) to fail comprehending that, they, too, can be victims of domestic abuse, simply because their abuser is not a man. On the other hand, it’s also a popular misconception which has been fully internalised, ingested, and used and abused by abusive women themselves, to further abuse, this time, their female partners: ‘you’re not victim, you’re not abused, simply because domestic abuse is patriarchal, so only men do it’.
At this point, if we truly care about victims, then unsettling yet honest questions must be asked: who, on earth, has been peddling this obnoxious, bogus, and counterproductive view that domestic abuse is 'patriarchal' in the first place? Who has thus been giving ammunitions to female abusers to gaslight their female victims, having them to believe that theirs cannot be abuse since they are not men? Who has therefore contributed, and still do, to such lack of awareness, and further marginalisation and victimisation of lesbians and bi women victims of women, by claiming that domestic abuse is mostly the product of men, and that *all* women, indiscriminately, ought only to be ‘victimised’? That’s right: here again, the same women organisations purporting to help, while, in fact, acting out of an ideology which is nothing but part of abused LGBT women's problem.
Isn’t it flabbergasting indeed that, lesbian and bi women, victimised by the myth that abuse is a ‘gendered crime’, a myth that ‘abusers will use (…) to try and manipulate the survivor and convince them that they aren’t being abused’, have to rely on organisations such as, for example, Women’s Aid LGBT for help that is, a charity which has, for the past fifty years, made its existence fully dependent on just such myth in the first place?!
Where do we go from here? Well...
The bottom line is that the 'gendered view' of domestic abuse has caused considerable damages, and this, upon vast swaths of various demographics, some already very vulnerable indeed -LGBTQ+ being only one of them.
Domestic violence, again, is not gendered. Women can, and do, abuse, and at the same rate as men. Denying it flies in the face of common sense, and it flies in the face of the vast research available.
Of course, it’s only fair and expected that, embodying the radical feminist ideology -now gone mainstream- that they do (seeing women as a uniform ‘class’, supposedly being ‘oppressed’ and ‘marginalised’ by a male supremacy that they call ‘the patriarchy’) women organisations now controlling the campaigning field, and having a no less massive impact upon from awareness campaigns to legislations, would focus only on victimising *all* women, indiscriminately, to serve their own agenda -for example, by directing their wrath only against male perpetrated violence, while brushing under the carpet that perpetrated by women.
The thing is: theirs is unscientific, has no bearing with the reality experienced by most of us (including women themselves, as we have just seen with lesbians and bi ones) and, above all, is a dogma which has shown itself to be a fuel to a problem they otherwise purport to tackle.
Domestic violence, though, is not the product of male mostly. In fact (and again) women are more at risk of enduring domestic abuse at the hands of other women than at the hands of men. Rape (or the threat of it) is not a coercive tool used by men to oppress and subjugate women. There are many complex, multi-faceted, factors explaining why some men would rape women; yet sexism cannot be counted as a decisive one, simply because women too are fully capable of it, including when it comes to raping other women as part of an abusive relationship. To claim that here’s a crime that can only involve a penis is not only to turn a blind eye to this blatant fact, but, when it comes to domestic abuse, to turn a blind eye to such female, marital, sexual violence which, here again, is far from being marginal.
As for the patriarchal narrative, it has become morally unsustainable, not least because, when it comes to women being abused by women, it is a narrative which has been fully interiorised by their abusers to further gaslight their victims. To entrust the helping of such victims to organisations otherwise fully buying into it and peddling it even right into our policies and legislations is, therefore, nothing but counter-productive hypocrisy on our part.
Where do we go from here? I don’t know. But if you want to do us all a favour, then you can start by stopping donating to Women’s Aid/Women’s Aid LGBT and any other organisations supporting the 'gendered view' of abuse, for they don’t help. On the contrary: their underlying ideology is as much part of the problem as the many factors that can explain why someone would engage in abusive behaviours; a multiple set of factors that they nevertheless toss aside to have us believe, instead, that such behaviours are only down to 'it's-the-patriarchy-stupid-and-do-not-question'. We must question.
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