Category Archives: Uncategorized

Love Letters to Afghanistan (1)

I crave you

I wonder at the parts of you I never see

the soft place behind your ear

the secretive spots at the backs of your knees

the instep of your left foot

The inside of your right wrist is where I will rest my cheek.

hold

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untitled3 (haiku)

My body vibrates
For you, tucked in my pale heart
Surging cadence, still.

 

woman

Art by Amy Jory

 

 

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Australian media drinking game, brought to you by the Courier Mail

When Muslims are mentioned in relation to the refugees, take a drink.

When the settlement of refugees is depicted as antithetical to the safety of (white) Australians, take a drink.

When the needs of refugees are minimised, take a drink (because education, healthcare, food security, infrastructure, reliable employment, etc. are “nice to haves” even though we expect them as a right).

When the term “real refugees” is used, take a drink.

When it is stated that allowing refugees into the country will create a slippery slope, implying that the nation will be overrun, take a drink (and read a history book).

When it is argued that Abbott “stopped the boats” (rather than imprisons and tortures men, women, and children in prison camps OR sends their vessels back to sea sentencing them to drown and be washed up on someone else’s beach), take a drink.

When there is no mention of Australia’s role in creating these refugees due to economic, political, and military activity, take a drink.

When you realise that you are complicit in the deaths and torture of millions of people around the world, drain the bottle.

DRAIN THE BOTTLE.

When you run out of alcohol, prepare for the revolution…

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Who Owns Victimhood?

Without fail, every time I post something to do with domestic violence, someone answers “but women are aggressors too!”

Yes, women are absolutely capable of being the violent party. We can safely assume that most victims of domestic violence where women are the aggressors fall into two camps. The victims are usually either identified female or male.

So let’s look at the literature reviews and studies already conducted on the subject. Here. I have focussed on Australia and Canada as these are my primary areas of concern due to my own life.

Vickers (1996) uses Lundy’s definition of domestic violence which I think suits our purposes, “whether heterosexual or homosexual [domestic violence], is nothing less than the systematic exercise of illegitimate power and coercive control by one partner over another (Lundy, 1993)”.

Same Sex Domestic Violence (SSDV)

In an American study, Tesch et al. (2012) found that “abuse in same-sex couples occurs with roughly the same frequency as it does for heterosexual couples (see Barnes, 1998; Island & Letellier, 1991; Letellier, 2002; Potoczniak, Mourot, Crosbie-Burnett, & Potoczniak, 2003; Renzetti, 1992; Seelau, Seelau, & Poorman, 2003). Taken together, a conservative estimate is that domestic violence, regardless of the sex of the couples involved, is a serious social problem.”

Certainly SSDV does not receive enough attention. Tesch et al. (2012) argue that this is due to “A belief that women are not violent towards one another may be due to the dominant social stereotype that women are not socialised to be violent or hostile like men; as such, women may be perceived as more likely to be passive and egalitarian towards one another in romantic relationships (Drucker, 2003; Elliot, 1996; Merrill, 1996; Poorman, 2001). For example, traditional feminist theorists argue that domestic violence of any form is the result of gender inequality, and that domestic violence can only occur when a man abuses a woman in an effort to subjugate his wife (Istar, 1996; Merrill; Renzetti, 1992; Russo, 1999).” In some ways these feminist arguments due same sex relationships an extreme disservice, and create barriers to accessing help from legal and community services.

As Tesch et al. (2012) go on to report that “Police officers (as well as other service providers who do not have ties to the GLBT community) may have difficulty understanding the complexities inherent in SSDV in that community. Ristock (2002) conducted in-depth interviews with lesbian clients in Canada to see how their experi- ences compared with other victims of les- bian domestic violence. Of those women interviewed, one stated that she tried to have her partner brought up on charges of sexual abuse. The police refused to press charges due to the officers’ belief that a woman cannot rape or violate another woman because women do not have a penis (Ristock).”

Tesch et al. (2012) point out that “most States have phrased their domestic violence statutes using gender-neutral lan- guage, which allows jurisdictions to prosec- ute on a case-by-case basis and take into account the severity of the charges. How- ever, this has led to ambiguous and inade- quate protection for SSDV. As there is no overriding legal definition of the crime of domestic violence nor a prescribed punish- ment, law enforcement officers become confused as to how they can best advise victims of SSDV (Potoczniak et al., 2003).

They also argue that “Another problem that may impact how law enforcement officers respond to a SSDV call is that many homosexual behaviours were viewed as illegal behaviour” (Tesch et al. 2012) – or perhaps unethical behaviour. We also cannot discount the stereotypes of Lesbian relationships in the hetereonormative culture in which the police are educated and conditioned.

Following an examination of the literature, Vickers (1996), outlined a number of myths regarding same sex domestic violence, which are still pervasive in 2015:

“1. Domestic violence primarily occurs among gay men and lesbians who hang out at bars, are poor or are people of colour.
2. Lesbians do not engage in violent abuse against their partners because women are not violent.
3. A batterer must be physically bigger than the party abused.
4. Women in relationships together have equal power.
5. Lesbian battering only occurs in S/M or butch/femme relationships.
6. Lesbian and gay domestic violence is about ‘mutual combat’, not power and control by one partner over the other. The violence is an ‘equal fight’.
11. Violence is a normal part of how some same sex relationships work.
12. Men are never victims of domestic violence. It isn’t violence when gay men fight, rather a case of ‘boys being boys’.
13. Lesbian and gay domestic violence is ‘sexual behaviour’, a form of S/M which both parties enjoy.
14. Domestic violence victims deserve what they get because they provoke the violence.”

Heterosexual Domestic Violence

But what about the downtrodden males who suffer under the yoke of female oppression and violence?
“In some surveys, the incidence of domestic violence against men has been
very low, precluding statistical analysis. For example, in one of the most
comprehensive Australian studies of the incidence of domestic violence,
Ferrante et al. (1996) conducted a telephone survey of Perth residents over
18 years of age. The survey asked both men and women a series of
questions about robbery, personal attack, threats of force and sexual assault.
The sample comprised 1,511 males, three of whom reported single incidents
of domestic violence against them. However, the researchers were dubious
about the recalling of these events and state ‘there is evidence that two of the
men may have been witness to an incident or involved in an incident with
someone else’s partner’ (Ferrante et al. 1996, p. 63). The small number of
incidents precluded further analysis.” (Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, 2005).

ADFVC go on to state that “A further problem for researching the incidence of violence perpetrated against men is that it can be difficult to differentiate men who are perpetrating violence from male
victims. For example, Gadd et al. (2002) conducted in-depth interviews with 22 men
who had disclosed experiences of threats or force by a partner in the 2000 Scottish
Crime Survey. In some cases, the men’s depictions of themselves as victims of
domestic violence were not compatible with details of the abuse that they had
described. The researchers consequently categorised the men into four groups:
primary instigators (n = 1), equal combatants (n = 4), retaliators (n = 8) and nonretaliatory
victims (n = 9). The researchers reported that: ‘…our suspicion was that
at least half of the partners of the men who had experienced some form of abuse or
threat would also have been able to offer accounts of repeat domestic violence
perpetrated against themselves…Differentiating perpetrators from victims in these
cases is an irreconcilably contentious task’ (Gadd et al. 2002, p. 44).”

“Claims are often made about the inaccuracy of data on the incidence of men as
victims of domestic violence. It is commonly argued that men’s under-reporting of
violence is due to barriers such as embarrassment. Whilst there is no doubt that
there are some truths to this, women also under-report violence for reasons such as
fear of reprisals, fear that children will be taken away, and a hope that their partner
will change. It is documented that female victims under-report their victimisation and
the evidence is that men tend to over-estimate their partner’s violence while women
under-estimate their partner’s violence by normalising or excusing it (Flood 2003, p.
4). Men also tend to under-estimate their own violence while women tend to overestimate
theirs (Kimmel 2001, pp. 10-11). Currie (1998) also found that men
upgraded women’s violent behaviour while women discounted or downplayed their
male partner’s violence.” (ADFVC, 2005)

ADFVC (2005) offer a useful snapshot of domestic violence in three Australian states:

Western Australia
“According to a review of police statistics, Ferrante et al. (1996, p. 47) report that
domestic violence constituted 19.3 per cent of all forms of violence against females
and 1.5 per cent of violence against men. However, this did not indicate if the
violence perpetrated against the male victims had been from a male or female
partner.”

Victorian hospital data
“Some 1.3 per cent of female and 0.4 per cent of male Emergency Department
presentations are the result of an injury inflicted by a partner (Atmore 2002, p. 6).
This also did not look at whether the injuries of male victims were inflicted by a male
or female partner.”

South Australian Phone-In
“This study involved a state-wide phone-in over two days and focus group interviews.
The phone-in invited callers to talk about the experiences and needs of people who
are in abusive or hurtful relationships. Fourteen per cent of callers were male, of
whom three per cent identified as perpetrators of domestic violence. As this was a
self-identifying phone-in, it was not a measure of the prevalence rate (Flood, p.2). In
a finding similar to those of the Scottish research already discussed, the authors
state that ‘although men did identify as victims of violence, there are strong
indications in the statements they make that they have been defined by others as
perpetrators of domestic violence and can be characterised as violent’ (Bagshaw et
al. 2000a, p.78). This highlights the ‘blur’ that sometimes exists between men as
‘victims’ and/or ‘perpetrators’.”

I absolutely agree with ADFVC’s statement that “female violence towards a male partner is an
area that requires further attention” (2005). Because it is unrecognised by our society, men who are victims of this form of violence have difficulty in being believed and in accessing accessing help from legal and community services – just as with women in same-sex relationships. Certainly heterosexual men and heterosexual women require different service streams and access to different protocols to address the physical, mental, and web of issues resulting from such violence. However, we need to be clear that cries of “think of the men” cannot deter us from the issues surrounding female inequality and the prevalence of domestic abuse.

Comparisons of Domestic Violence

In 1995, Tutty, Rothery, Cox & Richardson conducted a study of 18 women in Alberta were randomly selected from 65 women residing in a transition house. Ranging in age from 20-44, two were Indigenous Canadians, two were Asian immigrants, one was a Caribbean immigrant, one was a European immigrant, and the rest were classified as “Canadian-born”. Eleven of the sixteen were rated as in the “clinical range” on the Hudson’s physical abuse scale. Seven reported being sexually assaulted. These women were noted as using very low levels of physical behaviours toward their partners: seven of fifteen reported no violence, three reported aggressive behaviour, and one reported physical abuse as frequent and as serious as the man’s (mutual abuse). Seven of the male partners had a criminal record and nine were violent outside of the home. This study was found to be comparable to the 44,516 women in Canada who sought emergency shelter between 1994 and 1995 (Trudeau, 1995).

As comparison, half of the 18 men in the qualitative studies, “noted that the abuse was mutual, at least some of the time. Injuries occurred, but none of the men sought medical aid. More of the men fit Johnson’s description of “common couple violence” than the women who sought shelter, especially in regard to the low levels of violence and the low frequency of the aggressive incidents described by the men” (Tutty, 1999).

Conclusion

“There is no doubt that some men subjected to domestic violence from a partner will
experience serious abuse that is life threatening and likely to have a long-lasting
impact. However, research collected to date indicates very different experiences of
victimisation reported by men and women within a domestic violence context.
Bagshaw and Chung (2000, p. 11) conducted a review of the available literature and
found the following differences:
• Males reported that they were not living in an ongoing state of fear from the
perpetrator;
• Males did not have prior experiences of violent relationships; and,
• Males rarely experienced post-separation violence and, in the one reported
case, it was far less severe that in male-to-female violence.

Male respondents of the Scottish Crime Survey 2000, in general, were less likely to
have been repeat victims of assault, to have been seriously injured, and to report
feeling fearful in their own homes. These factors, coupled with the embarrassment
many male victims felt, helped to explain the infrequency with which male victims of
domestic abuse came to the attention of the Scottish Police (Gadd et al. 2002, p. vi).” (ADFVC, 2005)

Domestic violence is a terrible crime, abuse occurring when victim and aggressor are meant to love, support, celebrate, and cherish each other. All domestic violence,has significant impacts – psychological, physical, social, economic. Domestic violence in any form, must be brought to an end.

However, when rates of occurrence and fatalities are considered, once intersectionality is recognised, and once the historical, social, cultural, political, and economic contexts in which they occur are addressed, it is revealed that cases of domestic violence in which women are the victims, particularly victims of male partners, are not comparable to cases in which men are victims to violence from their female partners.

References

Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse (2005) Topic Paper: 18
Men as Victims of domestic Violence

Lundy, S. ‘Abuse That dare Not Speak Its Name: Assisting Victims of Lesbian and Gay Domestic Violence in Massachusetts’, Symposium on Domestic Violence, (Winter 1993) 28 New England Law Review 275.

Brian Tesch, Debra Bekerian, Peter English, and Evan Harrington (2012) Same-sex domestic violence: why victims are more at risk. International Journal of Police Science & Management In-Press.

Tutty, Leslie (1999) Husband Abuse:An Overview of
Research and Perspectives, Family Violence Prevention Unit,Health Canada.

Vickers, Lee (1996). The Second Closet: Domestic Violence in Lesbian and Gay Relationships: A Western Australian Perspective E Law Volume 3, Number 4 (December 1996)

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A Dialogue With Mayor Seiler..

16/11/2014
Dear Mayor Seiler,

I am writing to you add my voice to the global chorus, to express my immense disappointment regarding the ban on “public sharing” and subsequent arrests of Arnold Abbott’s for feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As a founder of Love Thy Neighbor Foundation, Abbott is living the values that a city should celebrate – showing compassion for those in need and going out of way to improve the lives of those who are hungry, who lack access to support networks.
That the city would spend its resources on preventing such an important act of civic responsibility shocks me. Why not encourage good citizenship and facilitate a culture where citizens take initiative to care for their city and the people therein?
fPlease focus on enforcing laws against white collar crime, on violent offenders, and tackle the causes homelessness by directing resources to address childhood trauma, mental illness, substance abuse, and provide permanent accommodation to those in need.
What are the values of Fort Lauderdale? What kind of city would you like to have your hand in forming? If one man such as Abbott can have such a profound impact that he is deemed to present a criminal risk to the citizens of Fort Lauderdale, then I challenge you May Seiler to harness the passion and skills of Abbott, to enable him to do his good work and to increase his ability to impact and improve upon the lives of those in need. Above all, I hope that you will allow him to inspire you to find ways to make such necessary contributions to your constituents. You are a Politician, a civil servant. It is high time to restore honour to your profession – one person at a time.

Thank you for your attention on this important matter

Frances Worster

20/11/2014
[reply from Mayor Seiler]

Once the real story got out, the global chorus has been apologies and corrections, but thanks for your input and for caring about the homeless. We truly appreciate the concern and respectful approach, and we recognize that this is a very difficult and emotional issue.

The City Commission did not realize that requiring the homeless be fed in safe, secure, sanitary and healthy conditions would be distorted by the media as an attack on the homeless. The City Commission did not ban feeding the homeless in the City of Fort Lauderdale and did not make it illegal to feed the homeless; the City Commission only regulated the location of those feedings. In fact, there are numerous locations where homeless feedings may be legally held in the City, including our downtown. You can read the ordinance online at our website: FortLauderdale.gov.

Further, the cycle of homeless and homelessness on the streets of Fort Lauderdale is unacceptable, and this City Commission will do everything possible to get them off the streets and into the right programs, to the appropriate facilities, and to the proper resources necessary to turn their lives around.

This City Commission also does substantial charitable work for the homeless here in South Florida, volunteer at the local homeless assistance center, contribute financially to assist homeless programs and benefits, and work on several successful homeless veterans programs and projects. You can find many of those programs listed on our website at FortLauderdale.gov.

Your assistance is also appreciated, and we welcome volunteers, partners, charitable contributions, donations, and all levels of support.

Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving.

John P. “Jack” Seiler
Mayor
City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida

21/11/2014
Dear Mayor Seiler,

I suspect the “global chorus” to which you allude is a somewhat optimistic description.

Far be it for a member of the public to presume to have relevant input as to public policy in a democracy.
I do however have a modicum of experience in this matter. I spent 14 years in Vancouver, a city with a severe homelessness “issue”, exacerbated by the closure of mental health facilities, and the bureaucratic structure that hampers service delivery.
As an Occupational Therapist I have worked with people experiencing homelessness, mental illness, chronic pain, and cerebral palsy.

I learned something very significant when I worked at a homelessness hostel. As I am sure you are aware, people who experience homelessness are not “single issue” consumers. Almost every individual with whom I worked had experienced all of the following: childhood trauma, physical (often sexual) abuse, substance use, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, and legal and financial issues. In short, “regulation” have failed them time and again.

Politicians and Therapists both rely on evidence to inform their practices and I am sure that you have found “business as usual” to have limited efficacy in addressing the issue of chronic homelessness. Trauma-informed models of care help to inform service providers about the ways in which these consumers may view authority and bureaucracy as a result of their prior experiences. Healthy engagement, positive relationships, healing experiences, and services that do not trigger prior traumas must be pillars to any services geared toward homelessness. Perhaps that is the “Abbot difference”?

It strikes me that Fort Lauderdale and Abbott have fundamental theoretical differences underpinning service delivery. Abbott seems to consider his location to be adequate for users to access – those who may not be attending your approved locations.

Time and again, I have seen services designed in such a way that they sound viable, yet fail on pragmatics – not actually meeting the needs of those intended to access the system, and therefore a waste of valuable resources.

Have consumers been surveyed? Has there been effort at collaborative consultation between all stakeholders with relation to service design?

Regards,
Frances Worster

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(Rich White Man) Mark Latham Has Something to Say

aka

Women in Western Suburbs Have No Neuroses

aka

Left Feminism is Akin to a Psychoneurotic Disorder

(but being on antidepressants is not an indicator of a psychoneurotic disorder)

 

Photograph: AAP

Photograph: AAP

 

Hey everyone, I read an article written by someone I have never met, whose identity is different from my own, writing about about a lived experience vastly different to mine. As an educated, white, cis male, I am required to pass judgement on this person and any of their ilk. As a person a privilege, I have access to various vehicles in the media through which I can make my opinions known and seek to influence the hearts and minds of others. Have a nice day.

 

 

And the antidote :

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/20/mark-latham-read-my-mind-of-course-i-hate-my-daughter-im-a-feminist

 

If you still feel dirty:

http://junkee.com/mark-latham-lisa-pryor-feminism/45634#jCpPLmQmJ1SPlrPb.99

http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/life-style/current-affairs/what-mark-latham-needs-to-know-about-depression-and-motherhood-20141120-11qwzf.html

http://www.mamamia.com.au/wellbeing/mark-latham-column/

 

 

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When Did Cis Become an Insult? part 1

Many of us in Brisbane are exhausted, still reeling from Mayang Prasetyo’s monstrous death and subsequent slander by the media, and heightened emotions surrounding the organisation of her vigil. It is unsurprising that there is a significant amount of dialogue using the term “cisgendered”.

Today a friend asked,

 

“This is probably going to open a big can of worms but when did “Cis” become an insult?”

 

What resulted was a Facebook storm of ideas, jokes, and a lot of anger. Jade, a person I have immense repeat for, wrote this thoughtful reply, and I asked if I could post it here as I want to preserve it so that it will remain here for reference, as part of an ongoing dialogue and a touchstone in my own exploration into community, identify, shame, and the body. I have edited together a reply over several posts, but have messed with it as little as possible as this is Jade’s voice. Over to you Jade:

 

Okay, I’m going to try and explain this a bit. Entirely from my own perspective. Please take the time to read this if you’re wondering the same thing. This is very generalised and coming from the experience of a trans masculine person who has never faced oppression as a trans woman and cannot speak on their behalf […]

People aren’t equal. In a social way, in an economical way, in a safety way, in a life-style way. There is a constant hierarchy where certain people, because of the circumstances of their birth- are given a level on which they sit either above or below other people. It’s intersectional (which means it incorporates lots of different groups facing different issues) which makes it all the more complicated.

The basics of this is being aware of your own level granted by birth and by lifestyle and being aware of those who are on a level that is positioned lower than you are.

The best example I’ve seen is to relate it to playing video games. If we are talking trans experiences (because I’m trans so can relate to it) without including sexuality or race or finances-

Being born cisgender (your gender identity matches your unchanged birth certificate) is playing the game on the easiest level. You get to use the toilet without fear, and everyone uses the right pronoun automatically, you don’t need to get your identity validated by a psych and you don’t have to pay lots of money to get documentation changed, you don’t get killed for being cisgender (and lots of other things).

Being born a trans man gives you a harder setting to play the game with.
Being born a trans woman, is pretty much the most difficult setting in terms of discrimination and abuse and that’s using binary trans identities
Being born gender queer/fluid/non-binary has a lot of other difficulties within the trans community as well as everywhere else (erasure of identity etc). Which makes it a really hard level of the game to play as well.

As a cisgender person- playing the game of life on easy mode in terms of gender identity. If you then say or do things that hurt trans people as a community (not individuals) then you’re participating in oppression. e.g. If you have a trans friend who doesn’t mind you using their old name- but you do that to any other trans person who hasn’t given you permission. You’re contributing to the oppression of trans people. You might be the nicest person in the world- but if you say something that contributes to oppression, then you’re still hurting people- no matter how good you’ve been in the past.

Cis is not an insult, it’s an identity.
If a child gets bitten by a dog/s, sometimes they will develop a distrust of dogs.
If a trans person gets abused by cis people then they might develop a distrust of cis people.

If you are a cis person and you hurt a trans person- generally it’s /because/ you’re cis that you didn’t know that it hurts or you didn’t need to know. The same way that a lawyer might not know about plumbing, and vice versa. You haven’t experienced it, so you don’t know how it feels. Therefore, when a trans person tells you ‘stop.’ ‘That hurts’ ‘Don’t say that’. If you continue to do so it’s like a lawyer trying to fix the sink, even though the plumber is telling them they’re not doing it right.

Eventually, the sink is going to break because the lawyer wasn’t listening.

Trans people know more about the trans experience than a cis person does. Full stop. Always.
That isn’t an insult, or a jibe at peoples intelligence. It’s about experience.

So when a trans person calls you cis, in a way that hurts you- it’s because you have hurt them /because/ you are cis.

It is never “You hurt me, therefore you are cis.” It is “You are cis, which is why you’ve hurt me.”

 

What can we do about it though? 
– Listen to trans people when they talk about trans issues
– If a trans person tells you to stop, you’re doing something wrong.
– Show respect for trans people and more often than not you’ll be respected in return.
– Don’t force trans people to educate you*
– Show you support trans people by giving them the space to speak freely

 

*Education:
Trans peoples lives are under the microscope of the media all the time. Look at all the interviews of trans people on TV. They ask about surgery, hormones, their past name and genitals and experiences. It is very, very, intimate.

Imagine having to tell people every day what your genitals looked like in order for them to accept you as a real person.
That’s a trans experience.
If you want to know about trans people, try and google some of the questions you have. It won’t be the best education, but it’s a start. Contact some of the advocacy groups (Many Genders One Voice and ATSAQ in Brisbane. There are heaps in other states too), see if they have resources on your questions. Even QUAC has resources on trans info.
If you’re still confused, then check out Tumblr. There are hundreds of thousands of trans people on there who are writing out answers to the same questions every single day who enjoy it!

Finally, if you are lucky enough to have a trans friend who is happy to educate you, ask them politely and be respectful if they choose to say no. Demanding trans people to educate you is disrespectful, as that is not their job. Unless the trans person is a trans educator by profession or choice- then you’re invading their intimate lives. Not on purpose- you’re just curious- but you’re still asking people personal questions that are invasive and often hurtful.

So please be careful and look after your trans friends. If they’re calling you names. You’ve said something hurtful and offensive.

You’re playing the game on cis mode. Suddenly you encounter someone playing on trans mode. You need to beat each other in order to get to the next level. Problem is, you have 5 weapons and they only have 1 because they’re on trans mode. So you hit them with your magic fire balls, and they hit you with their sword of might. But because you have better stats (because you’re on cis mode) the trans person KO’s and you leave with -3 points from full health.

That is the difference. Because when you say something to hurt a trans person. It is /extremely/ damaging. Because of their experiences as being trans. If they insult you, it hurts, yeah- but it doesn’t KO you the same way. You can leave the situation feeling hurt, but they can leave it feeling suicidal.

I was just talking about cis and trans. Intersectionality means that there is so much more out there to consider. (race, sexuality, socio-economic standing, job, disability etc).

 

 

Check out Group Captain Cate McGregor speaking on Q&A about Transgender issues and the subsequent discussion about the tweets occurring as she spoke.

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