Violence is violence, isn’t it?

By Joseph Salazar

Photo by DionGillard

Photo by DionGillard

Gays, like women, suffer from domestic violence at the hands of intimate partners. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, an organization that “empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and support survivors through counseling and advocacy,” documented 19 cases of homicides committed in same-sex or transgender intimate relationships in the year 2011 alone. Of those 19 cases of homicide, 63% of victims were gay men.  The collation also found that 61.6% of survivors of violence in the LGBTQ community were denied access to shelter and other survivor resources.

Members of the House of Representatives taking up the Violence Against Women Act have called protection for LGBTQ victims a “side issue” that should be addressed separately, given that our federal government does not recognize same-sex relationships.

Photo by AnnieCatBlue

Photo by AnnieCatBlue

But that’s not entirely true. Already, the Violence Against Women Act serves women who are in relationships not federally sanctioned by the federal government, namely women who are in relationships that are not categorized as ‘marriage’. The idea behind the Violence Against Women Act is that women who have been victims of violence in intimate relationships should have access to resources they need, regardless of marital status or circumstance.

The version of the Violence Against Women Act passed by the Senate expands this principle to include men. The idea behind the expansion is simple: Violence is violence. And it’s wrong. Period. One’s gender does not make surviving domestic violence easier or harder. The exclusion of gays from protection in the Violence Against Women Act recently passed by the House is a troubling political tactic with an illogical rationale.

Violence should never be protected because it is politically popular to allow violence to happen to a minority group. Allowing victims of domestic violence to receive access to invaluable services isn’t an endorsement of a lifestyle. It’s not going to lead to the destruction of the American family. It simply allows for gay men to get the same resources as straight and lesbian women receive. However you feel about homosexuality, we should all be able to agree that any step towards the protection of people’s lives is a positive one. The House of Representatives should send that message to the American people and the world when they take up the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act once more.

Intimate partner violence should never be a “side-issue”.

In Case You Missed It

By Joseph Salazar.

The semester is in full swing. Take a quick break to catch up on some news items that you might have missed in the past week.

“First lingerie line for transgender women launches”

T-Strings are the fashion industries response to the lingerie needs of transgender women. Along with T-Strings, Chrysalis Lingerie will be launching a bra line with built in-silicon inserts that appeals to both women who are transgender and women who are not transgender but have received mastectomies. The new fashion line intended to make all women feel beautiful launches this spring.

 

“Senate poised to renew Violence Against Women Act”

7218014214_fb1a366f4e_tThe Senate is expected reauthorize the Violence Against Women act with new protections for gays and lesbians. Additionally, the legislation will allow Native courts on American Indian reservations to try perpetrators of crimes against women on Native land. Immigrant women married to abusers are also to receive new protections under the new law.

 

“More mammograms mean more problems for older women, study finds”3721951306_edbca985b7_t

Women should receive mammograms only once every 2 years and only between the ages of 50 and 74, a new study has found. Recent research published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute claims that women who receive mammograms once or more per year are more likely to receive false positive diagnoses. The study also found that receiving a mammogram every year does not reduce the chance of being diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer.

 

“For Women, Reduced Access to Long-Term Care Insurance”

Women who are seeking out insurance that will allow them to receive long-term care, either in a nursing home or at home, will soon be paying as much as 40% more than men in premiums. Companies justify the changes by arguing that women are much more likely to cash out on the benefits than men are. The changes come at a time when it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get long-term care insurance in the first place.

 

“Heart Disease: Women Can Miss the Warning Signs”

Women may experience different and easier to miss signs of heart disease. The confusion occurs because women often attribute warning signs to something else. This is because, for women, a heart-attack can feel similar to flu-like symptoms or dull pain.

 

“Funding: There’s a New Source for Women Entrepreneurs”

Astia Angel LogoAstia Angel is a new group looking to invest in women-led startup companies that have the potential to grow. The group, already known for providing business opportunities to women-led businesses over the past 14 years, is now starting an “angel” project that will connect women with investors interested in companies that are led by women. Startup companies led by women are much more likely to succeed than male-led companies and receive a very small slice of the pie in terms of investment.

 

“African-American women have played role in every war effort in U.S. history, research shows”5968195557_5f916edbda_t
Since black women were promised freedom if they served as spies in the Revolutionary War, they have been an integral part of fighting for America. During the Civil War, Harriett Tubman served as a spy and Cathy Williams, a former slave at a Missouri plantation, served for two years in the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment, passing as a man. Celebrate Black History Month by reading more about this story.

 

“Women In Combat Favored By Most Voters: Poll”

6891996935_6c71260946_t75% of respondents in a poll found no problem with women serving in combat positions in the military. Women and men support the new Department of Defense policy equally. About 59% of men and 45% of women also support including women in the military draft if it were to be reinstated.

 

“Robin Roberts to return to ‘Good Morning America’ on Feb. 20”GOOD MORNING AMERICA - ROBIN ROBERTS GM08 (ABC/ Ida Mae Astute )

Breast cancer survivor and Good Morning America host Robin Roberts will be returning to the airwaves on February 20. The popular morning host had been on leave for treatment of a rare blood disorder.

 

 

Awareness in the LGBTQ Community

By Ellen Parsons

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and here at the Women’s Center we have several projects going on to help raise awareness of the severity of the issue- including the “I’m Anti Violence…” Photo Campaign during LGBT History Month. This campaign seeks to raise awareness of violence against LGBTQ people, which  is oftentimes overlooked or thought as nonexistent when the topic of domestic violence is brought up.

Pride photo by infomatique on Flickr

The statistics on domestic violence against LGBTQ people can be quite shocking: according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, rates of domestic violence for gay men couples mirror that of domestic violence against women and the statistics. In one year, 44% of victims in LGBTQ domestic violence cases identified as men and 36% identified as women. It is estimated that 50% of lesbians will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. In addition, 78% of lesbians report that they have either defended themselves from or fought back against an abusive partner. Statistics on those who are transgender are even harder to find on the topic of domestic violence (as are any statistics on LGBTQ who are not primarily middle class, white, etc.) and the best summary I can find on the topic can be found here.

With this said, abuse against LGBTQ people is similar to, yet different from that of non-LGBTQ people. In addition to the physical, sexual, emotion, and financial abuse that can take place in relationships, one can use the others identity status against them by threatening to “out them” in social circles they do not want to come out to. LGBTQ people have to worry, further, about how police officers, teachers, counselors, and other service providers (who are often not trained to deal with this kind of thing) will react. The lack of coverage on this topic may make LGBTQ people think that what is happening is not abuse, and oftentimes LGBTQ people with children may have to worry about their children being taken away by the courts if they are forcibly outed by reporting. In addition, transgender people oftentimes are excluded from shelters that are oftentimes male and female based, so they may be denied access due to their gender status.

All of this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to talking about domestic violence in the LGBTQ community. I find it really unfortunate that the conservation around domestic violence often revolves solely around middle class, heterosexual, white women. As I mentioned before, domestic violence is not just an issue for one group of people, it affects all of us.

Want to show that you are “Anti-Violence?” Come partake in the Women’s Center “I’m Anti Violence…” Photo Campaign During LGBT History Month this October.

For more information and to keep updated, be sure to visit and ‘like’ the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project!

Leave Your Lipstick At Home

By Courtney Neaveill

“Gwyneth Paltrow lipstick lesbian”: Google that and you will get over two pages of results – all of which reference a recent interview that Ms. Paltrow gave with Harpaar’s Bizarre. The 39 year old film star mentioned her daughter’s affinity for pink, ruffled clothes and remarked that IF her daughter were a lesbian she would be a ‘lipstick lesbian’ – as opposed to a ‘butch’ lesbian.  So now you may be thinking, ‘what the hell is that?’ Definition incoming! The most popular description on UrbanDictionary.com, defines the lipstick lesbian as “a feminine lesbian who is attracted to other feminine lesbians. They generally enjoy fashion, flowers, perfume, sex and the city, lingerie, lipstick of course, and (gasp!) passionate sex with other women.” The authors at Wikipedia expand on their similar definition of a LL by adding “most female same-sex sex scenes in mainstream pornography [portray women] this way.”  I take issues with this designation.  It’s as if people are saying “ok- now that we know what she is, we’ll know more appropriately how to deal with her.” I think of scientists uncovering a new species of animal or better yet, Jack Hannah. “Hey everyone, how’r  ya’ll doin – I’m Jungle Jack Hanna and on today’s episode we’ll be looking for the allusive Lipstick Lesbian.” What about the lesbian who does not fit into the nicely outlined “lipstick” category – is she butch by default? Is there no such thing as a normal, everyday lesbian? I’ll admit when I first heard the term lipstick lesbian I was amused – but does this label serve a purpose or is it damaging to the gay and lesbian community?

The people over at Belladonna.org not only find lipstick classification necessary but they also commit an entire section of their website in support of feminine lesbians. The claim is that they are unidentifiable by appearance and therefore need a support community where they can find tips on how to navigate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), dating and social scene. “Since we “don’t look like Lesbians”, other Lesbians don’t recognize us, which means we are often excluded from the united front. (Also, we don’t get asked out.)” This makes sense. In 1998, the Village Voice published an article in which they addressed the lipstick lesbian phenomenon.  According to the article, after series like the L Word, Sex and the City and Grey’s Anatomy portrayed lesbians in a more feminine light, lesbians no longer felt obligated to wear Doc Martens and rainbow colored jewelry but instead ventured to strut around in designer clothes and high heels.  Executive producer and director of L Word, Ilene Chaiken, feels that lesbians are liberated by the increasing social acceptance of the feminine lesbian.

“I think that we all need representation, we need aspirational figures, and it’s a positive thing for girls growing up to look at a TV show and say: ‘Oh, so that’s a lesbian, and she can be successful and wear glamorous clothes. Feeling that I might be gay doesn’t relegate me to some dark corner of society.’ “

Sociologist and professor, Jane Ward, calls this “’an echo effect’: The media prefers images of beautiful women, so lesbians put energy into being pretty, and then the media reports that image as the new ideal. “It’s the same way that heterosexual femininity is packaged and sold to female consumers.” Lesbians are therefore more palatable to the media-crazed, consumer public.

So which is it – have lesbians been forced by the general public into acting and dressing more feminine or have they been liberated by lipstick and high heels? I think it is a matter of both social pressure and personal expression. Either way, it is not a very flattering reflection of U.S. American social culture when public figures like Gwyneth Paltrow keyhole people into such inescapable categories. Actress Portia de Rossi once quipped “Everyone is their own kind of lesbian. To think there’s a certain way to dress or present yourself in the world is just one more stereotype we have to fit into.”  We should not be persuaded to make the distinction between two potentially harmful clichés; the ‘lipstick’ and the ‘butch’ lesbian.  Why is it anyway that lipstick lesbians receive the special feminine treatment? One of the most beautiful expressions of femininity is the deep love and affection that one woman can have for her female friend, partner or lover; with or without lipstick.

Did You Miss These?


A trailer for the film “The Invisible War” about sexual assault in the military.

Gloria Steinem talks about feminism and women and aging at the TEDx Women event.

The plan to allow Plan B to be available to anyone regardless of age is blocked.

Amnesty International released some facts and figures about violence against women.

The International Women’s Media Foundation releases a Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media.

Secretary Hillary Clinton talked about LGBT human rights in Geneva.

House Republications push a bill to ban abortions based on the sex or race of the fetus.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) does a two part series on the Penn State sexual assaults and how it can be used to teach about bystander intervention.