Θα περίμενε κανείς ότι αυτό το φαινόμενο δεν υφίσταται σε μεγάλο βαθμό. Ένας από τους λόγους, όπως έχουμε μεταφράσει σε προηγούμενο post, θα μπορούσε να είναι ο εξής: κάποιος θα περιμένει ότι το τα ομόφυλα ζευγάρια διαχειρίζονται τις διαφωνίες τους καλύτερα γιατί αντιλαμβάνονται τον κόσμο από την ίδια οπτική. Είναι ένα φαινόμενο με πολλές προεκτάσεις και θα επανέλθουμε στο μέλλον με περισσότερες πληροφορίες για το θέμα αυτό.
Στο ακόλουθο άρθρο παρουσιάζονται δύο βιβλία για την βία στις λεσβιακές σχέσεις:
Russo, Ann. Recognizing Difference: Exploring Violence in Lesbian Relationships. Psychology of Women Quarterly. 27 (March 2003): 86.
Recognizing Difference: Exploring Violence in Lesbian Relationships
Intimate Betrayal: Domestic Violence in Lesbian Relationships, ELLYN KASCHAK (Ed.).
Haworth Press, 2001. 138 pp., $19.95, (paper), ISBN 0-7890-1662-1.
No More Secrets: Violence in Lesbian Relationships, JANICE L. RISTOCK. New York: Routledge, 2002. 224 pp., $21.95, (paper) ISBN 0-415-92946-6; $85.00 (cloth) ISBN 0-415-92945-8.
The existence of violence in lesbian relationships raises critical questions about feminist "commonsense" knowledge about the interpersonal violence in women's lives. Within the contemporary U.S., the focus of feminist research, analysis, and advocacy has been primarily on men's interpersonal violence against women. The perpetuation of endemic violence against women has been attributed to a sexist and male-dominant society. Violence within lesbian relationships disrupts this mainstream feminist analysis. Ellyn Kaschak's edited volume Intimate Betrayal and Janice Ristock's No More Secrets both are important contributions to the growing body of literature exploring the sources and dynamics of lesbian violence and implications for feminist theories and practices addressing violence against women in general. The authors, from a variety of perspectives, encourage us to rethink and reconceptualize feminist assumptions and approaches to the violence in women's lives given the lesbian-specific contexts.
Kaschak's anthology of essays, Intimate Betrayal, offers an array of perspectives on violence in lesbian relationships, particularly from the field of psychology. The authors in this volume ask key questions, such as: What is the prevalence of violence in lesbian relationships? What are the factors—psychological as well as social—that contribute to the perpetration of violence in lesbian relationships? How does internalized homophobia impact victims and perpetrators of lesbian violence? And how do homophobia and heterosexism inform the ways that social institutions respond to violence in lesbian relationships? How do research, services, and programs more adequately and effectively address this violence? The answers to the questions offered in the volume seem consistent in their arguments that violence in lesbian relationships is a significant issue worthy of serious attention and that homophobia and heterosexism must be directly addressed in any effort to understand and to intervene in its perpetuation. These arguments are important given that most research and organizations use a one-size-fits-all approach to domestic violence (i.e., heterosexual men's violence against women), sometimes with a simple addition of "homophobia" to the formula for batterers. The salience of this problem is underscored by Erin M. McLaughlin and Patricia D. Rozee's essay, "Knowledge about Heterosexual versus Lesbian Battering Among Lesbians," that reveals that lesbians are much more able to identify, label, and understand the dynamics of heterosexual domestic violence than they are lesbian violence. This lack of knowledge has serious consequences in potential intervention into and prevention of violence in lesbian relationships.
One of the key questions raised is how do we understand the causes of lesbian violence against their intimate partners? Most work in the field suggests that lesbian violence is different from heterosexual men's violence. It cannot be solely attributed to male domination (women are the perpetrators of violence), and it cannot be attributed solely to a social power dynamic (perpetrators are not always the ones with social power). These have often been the explanations offered in mainstream feminist discourses. Lesbian theorists and advocates along with women of color have consistently argued that the gender-exclusive framing of domestic violence is limited and problematic. Several essays in this volume offer research and analysis that furthers our understanding of the perpetrators of lesbian violence and the social and psychological forces that shape their violence. Two of the authors (Kimberly Balsam, "Nowhere to Hide" and Leanne Tigert, "The Power of Shame"), for instance, argue that homophobia and heterosexism are factors that contribute to the perpetration of violence in lesbian relationships. For instance, Tigert argues that we might look at the perpetration of violence as "oppression sickness." Within this framework, violence is a "reenactment of and response to cultural traumatization" (p. 75). She argues that the anger and shame resulting from homophobia and heterosexism impact the victims and perpetrators of violence in lesbian relationships. I agree with Tigert that therapists and counselors must address internalized homophobia and the impact of living in homophobic and heterosexist contexts on violence. If we are interested in the roots of violence, this is essential. What is troubling, however, is how, in the course of the essay, she begins to talk about victims and perpetrators without attention to their different and unequal roles in violent relationships. I am troubled by this conceptual move in her analysis, and yet at the same time, I agree that shame and anger arising from homophobic contexts do underlie and perpetuate violence. My concern is that the discussion of "oppression sickness" shifts the empathic focus to "perpetrators" in ways that might keep "victims" hooked into relationships that are destructive to them. This may lead to making "perpetrators" less accountable for their behavior and its effects. Tigert's essay contributes to a deeper understanding of the dynamics of shame and anger and how they are fueled by homophobia, and yet I do not want issues of accountability for violence and its effects on the victimized lesbians to be decentered in this analysis.
Disrupting our heterosexist assumptions regarding domestic violence is central to Janice Ristock's book, No More Secrets: Violence in Lesbian Relationships. Ristock uses a postmodern approach to violence in lesbian relationships; she hopes to disrupt the binaries created by universalist, White-dominant, and heterosexist approaches to domestic violence, such as victim/perpetrator and power/powerlessness. Through an analysis of interviews with lesbians who have experienced violence in their intimate relationships (mostly victims, a few perpetrators, a few who identify as both) as well as interviews with lesbian service providers, Ristock argues against the assumption that domestic violence is always about power and control of one partner over another. She further challenges the assumption that individuals have stable, monolithic, and unchanging identities as either victims or perpetrators. Instead, she argues that the power and control may be more fluid in lesbian relationships characterized by violence and that power dynamics may shift and change within a relationship. For example, through her interviews, she finds that some lesbians who initially experienced themselves as victims say that they shifted to abusive tactics at a later point in their relationships. While Ristock takes care to argue against the assumption that lesbian battering is really just "mutual abuse," some of her examples and her conclusions seem to support this claim. As I read some of the excerpts and her interpretations, I began to wonder how the women she interviewed came to identify themselves as either "victims" or "perpetrators," and whether we could assume their construction of themselves as "victims" and/or "perpetrators" was "accurate." Because the excerpts provided are from much longer narratives, they are decontextualized and broken up for the purposes of analysis. Moreover, given the postmodern approach that encourages fragmentation and contradiction, it seemed difficult to rely solely on the fragmented parts of the stories for answers to these complicated questions. I found that I had many questions. I wanted to hear the full stories; I felt that it was hard to judge what was happening in the relationships from the excerpts given. At the same time, I am aware that the complexities she is drawing attention to make me uneasy. And this dis-ease is precisely Ristock's point in asking us to rethink our assumptions and the way that the accepted discourse may limit our understanding of violence in lesbian relationships. The questions raised are significant ones that researchers, service providers, and community activists must consider in our efforts to address and to prevent violence in lesbian relationships.
Ristock argues against universalized assumptions and asks us to pay attention to specific contexts of violence and forms of violence, rather than to assume that it is all the same. Her argument is compelling and her examples build the case. To assume that all violent relationships are the same and that they must be approached in the same way has contributed to the invisibility, denial, and minimization of violence in lesbian relationships. Ristock offers several contexts in which violence in lesbian relationships takes place and suggests that the dynamics are different in these contexts and thus intervention and prevention strategies might be made more specific. The contexts that she identifies include "contexts of first relationships, contexts of the closet and homophobia, and contexts of dislocation such as recent immigration." In addition, she writes, "There are also contexts in which violence is normalized. These can include using drugs and alcohol, having a history of previous abuse, and experiencing a lifetime of abuse in a context of poverty and racism" (p. 57). She suggests that the contexts "may increase the probability of experiencing or committing violence," although she's not making a causal argument. She illustrates, through the stories, the impact of these contextual factors on the individual women's lives that she interviewed. What seems less clear is how the intervention and prevention strategies might differentially address these contexts.
Ristock's book is a worthwhile and important contribution to the literature on violence in lesbian relationships and is a must-read. The questions and complexities that she is raising are essential in developing an adequate framework for intervention into violence in lesbian relationships. While Ristock argues for the distinctiveness of violence in lesbian relationships, her attention to the specificity of relational and social contexts as well as complexities and fluidity of power in interpersonal dynamics shed light on the inadequacy of a "one-size-fits-all" approach to domestic violence.
Ann Russo, Associate Professor, Women's Studies Program, DePaul University, is author of Taking Back Our Lives: A Call to Action in the Feminist Movement (2001) and co-author of Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality (1998).