On a serious note, domestic violence in the LGBT community

TW: domestic violence

Recently on Twitter there was a conversation happening tagged #whydidntsheleave and #whyididntleave which highlighted the reality of so many people living in abusive households. Many very serious topics were raised which very clearly showed how complicated an issue domestic violence is.

Often people say things like “Why didn’t she just leave?” and ” I’d never let someone treat me like that.” What people often don’t understand is that DV is insidious and doesn’t start of with someone hitting their partner. It often takes the form of long term manipulation and isolation, so that when the dynamic turns physically violent the victim can barely distinguish the behaviour as abusive. Putting the responsibility for not leaving on the victim is not only disempowering to the person but also victim blaming of the worst kind. Often there is an aspect of economic abuse where the victim doesn’t have money to leave, they are so isolated from family and friends that they can’t ask for help, and the chances of an escalation in violence to being life threatening increases dramatically in the days and weeks following the victim trying to leave.

Here is a basic guide to recognizing Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence can happen in any relationship. Women are far more likely to become victims of domestic violence, and while the systems in place are woefully inadequate there are still structures in place to assist and support women and children DV survivors.

After a recent event where a friend was caught up in a dangerous and abusive relationship I realized, there are very few resources for men who are the victims on DV. Yes, men can suffer from Domestic Abuse, yes men do need help to get out of an abusive relationship, and yet there are only 2 shelters in Gauteng that will take male DV survivors. Neither of these shelters are easily accessible.

To complicate matters, if you are a gay male it is almost impossible to lay a report of violence with the police, obtain a protection order, or find a place of safety to go to. The issue of DV in the LGBT community is almost completely ignored. If you are gay and you aren’t married to your abuser, access to the structures for DV victim support and legal system is even more difficult.

After spending the day trying to find some sort of help for my friend and having phone call after phone call met with “I’m sorry there is nothing we can do” I realize that the LGBT community is still marginalized in South Africa and basic community support structures are inaccessible to the LGBT community.

 

 

 

Database of Men’s Organizations (focusing more on males as abusers than as the victim of DV)

Victim Empowerment resource document (comprehensive list of shelters and DV support however some of the shelters for men no longer exist

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#MyNameIs (and why it doesn’t matter)

Recently there has been a lot of noise on all social media platforms protesting against Facebook’s real name policy. The fight to be allowed to use an alias is being lead by a colorful group of drag queens, but don’t think that it is just some people on the outskirts of society who would want to or need to use an alias.

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For all or all the very good reasons as to why someone would want to use an alias everyone has missed the point.

Facebook Is not in the business of social media. Facebook is the most ingenious data mining website ever created. Social media is the hook they use to get you to hand over your personal information and by having your real name, email address, phone number, age, sex, country of residence, shopping habits, restaurant habits, holiday habits, and all the other info you willingly give over, they have a unique profile of you that is advertising gold!

Facebook will do anything to maintain the integrity of their sellable data and they really don’t care if they piss off a few minorities groups in doing so.

8 Things Not To Say To Lesbian Couples Who Have Kids

A funny (funny peculiar not funny ha-ha) thing happens when you aren’t a typical cisgendered heterosexual person; people feel that they have the right to ask deeply personal questions. Furthermore they also assume that you are obligated to provide them with an education on the object of their curiosity. This happens to me a lot and I know many people have the same experience whether it is because of their sexuality or because of having had fertility treatments. This post may be a bit ranty, proceed with caution.

So here are a couple things that you should really not say to a lesbian couple who have kids:

  1. Oh did you adopt?

    In South Africa, adoption is not an easy process. Caucasian babies up for adoption are rarer than hens teeth and those that do come up for adoption are usually placed through a Christian organisation, which means the likelihood of the child/ren being placed with a gay couple is almost 0. The number of children needing adoptive homes is astronomical but the system to put those children into homes is a bureaucratic nightmare. Go read up a bit about adoption, educate yourself. Ignorance is not a valid excuse for being insensitive. (Often this question comes with a story of a friend/cousin/colleague/friend-of-a-friend/Angelina Jolie who adopted)

  2. So how did you have kids?

    I am really not interested in discussing the details of our reproductive interventions with anyone that asks. Sometimes another lesbian couple or infertile couple will ask because they are in the family planning phase too and in that case I will discuss every detail of reproductive options and what we did, but as a general rule my answer tends to be “we had help from a doctor” and I leave it at that.

  3. Oh so did you do IVF?

    IVF is not the stock standard method of Artificial Reproductive Technology for lesbian couples. Usually people would try artificial insemination (AI) first. IVF is very expensive and requires a lot more medical intervention.

  4. Wasn’t it expensive?

    Again, none of your business.

  5. Who’s the father?

    This is without a doubt my biggest bugbear question. By asking this you are completely erasing the validity of our family structure. There isn’t a father. There are two moms. There is no, never was, and never will be a father (unless one of us decided to transition but that is a completely different can of none of your business). We did have a donor who supplied a genetic contribution to help us create our kids.

  6. So did you use an anonymous donor, so what you picked them out of a book or something?

    Good heavens! Really? How many times must I repeat… it’s none of your business! Donor sperm can be either anonymous or from a known donor. Families can choose to have any spectrum of involvement with the donor from absolutely none to have them actively involved in the kids’ lives. This is entirely based on what works for that specific family and they have absolutely no obligation to explain their family structure to anyone.

  7. So who is the mom?

    Uhm… two moms.

  8. I mean who’s the real mom?

    Me: Looks at wife…touches her. Looks at self…prods self. “I’m quite sure we’re both real, thanks.”

    Getting caught up in the thought process that genetics = real family is very short sighted. There are many families who don’t share genetics. It doesn’t mean they are any less real. Think about it for a moment…

     

Thanks for bearing with me being a ranty-pants.

So… if you are a gay/lesbian couple who are looking to start a family there are a lot of resources with info about how to go about it. A good place would be to contact your gynaecologist or a fertility clinic. You can also speak to Medfem, Vitalab and BioART (all of whom are gay friendly) in Johannesburg. For gay couples looking for surrogacy options try Nurture.

Infertile couples looking for information and support can try the Fertilicare forum. It was a source of endless support for me through our TTC (trying to conceive) journey. There is also a Rainbow Room for LGBT couples, although I found the entire community supportive and have made some awesome IRL friends through the forum.

There are very few specific resources on South African options for gay/lesbian couples wanting to start families. Luckily we do live in a country where same-sex couples have full parental rights, however it is a good idea to be married beforehand to prevent complications with registering births etc. As much as we live in a country where our families are legally protected by the constitution there are a couple stupid bureaucratic hiccups in the system such as two ID numbers of the same sex can only be added to a birth certificate of a child at the Home Affairs Head Office in Pretoria which means there will be a delay in getting the birth certificates.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask… ha ha ha!

 

Mothers’ day – how to navigate having two moms

DW forgot mother’s day. Well not actually, she got the date wrong because of a mix-up on the reminder on her phone, and as luck would have it we were away with my folks for the weekend and there was no way either of us was going to get to sleep in or have breakfast in bed. Being two pragmatic people we decided to postpone our Mothers’ day for this weekend past so that we could have all the traditional celebrations.

On a side note: Seeing my dad give my wife a “dude you fucked up” look in a moment of masculine bonding was priceless and I love them both a bit more for that moment.

Now when you have toddlers there is no chance in hell that both parents are going to get a sleep in. Mother’s day weekend tends to be very busy with all the grannies that need a little celebrating too. As such, we have decided that from now on we will always celebrate Mothers’ day the week after the traditional mother’s day. What we did this year was DW got Saturday and I got Sunday. We each got a sleep in. We each got breakfast in bed. We each got a day to choose how we wanted to spend it with our family. The result was a magical weekend which left our hearts full and our little family brimming with happy vibes and love.

Last year we tried arranging it with me celebrating mother’s day and DW celebrating father’s day, but it left DW feeling a little left out and unrecognised with all the other happy moms. DW is a mom after all, a butch mom yes, but still a mom. Trying to celebrate on the same day doesn’t work because someone is always going to be left on baby duty (for a good couple years to come) and being the organiser.

Breakfast in bed and good morning cuddles are without a doubt the best Mothers’ day gift. My coffee got spilled into my plate of scrambled egg. The boys ate most of DW’s crumpets with strawberries and cream… but that it the best part of family life isn’t it? Those beautiful moments of togetherness which are imperfectly perfect.

 

Also DW redeemed her mixed up dates by gifting me a beautiful Wushoff 16″ cooks knife and a candy thermometer for jam making. Lucky me.

#YesAllWomen

Last night I watched Twitter explode with the #YesAllWomen hashtag. It took me a moment to figure out what was going on and a little googling brought me to this story:

Elliot Rodger’s California shooting spree: further proof that misogyny kills

Basically a guy, Elliot Rodgers, went on a shooting spree because he felt rejected by women who didn’t want to have sex with him and wanted to punish them. This left 6 people dead and others wounded and in hospital.

WHAT THE FUCK!?

The horror of the story has me sick to my stomach and as I unpack my feelings there are so many layers of revulsion, anger and disbelief.

This reoccurring theme in the USA of people feeling rejected and then taking a gun and going on a shooting spree is unbelievable. How does society degenerate to this point? How do children, young adults, feel such a hopeless anger that it would drive them to take another person’s life? You can blame it on poor gun control, the pervasive sense of entitlement of the Gen-Yers, break down of family structure, violent videos games, and a host of other influences. What if people are just shitty, and will do shitty things to other people because there is very little to deter them?

As a feminist I get into a raging frenzy. It is very difficult for me to be coherent and logical about the issues at play here.

I am sickened by the pervasive misogyny in our society which, through constant reinforcement by men and women in a multitude of acts of overt and micro-aggression, comes to a tragic head in one sad example. How many times in my life have I perpetuated patriarchal dominance and misogyny in my own behaviour? I remember so many incidence of stupid things like repeating a joke that condones violence against women, or not speaking out against someone who encourages misogyny as a throw away comment during conversation. We all have an inborn acceptance of patriarchy and misogyny from existing in a society in which it is so easily accepted, but where do we draw the line and say no more? How far does our silence go in making us complicit in perpetuating this universal acceptance of violence towards women?

I live in a violent country. South Africa is a melting pot of colonialism, privilege, poverty, racism, tribalism, and desperation. Everyday there are stories of acts of violence against women that would put this internationally trending story of Elliot Rodgers to shame. I can’t shake the idea that misogyny is becoming more accepted, condoned and even encouraged.

Following the discussion on Twitter, #YesAllWomen is an education on the universal experience of women. What saddens me though is the sheer number of men wading in on the hashtag with reactions varying from “shut up bitch” to threats of rape and violence.

The amazing responses to men justifying rape culture have made me smile, and at times have even been quite funny but the fact that this hashtag even exists is an indictment on society. It puts a spotlight on my own misogyny, my apathy towards patriarchy and my comfortable privileged life.

By the end of the week the hashtag will be a distant memory and the world will move on to another hot topic like if Kim Kardashian is showing a baby bump (didn’t she just get married?) or replacing a word in a movie title with the word poop.

Congratulations people… we’re failing spectacularly at the simple act of showing an ounce of humanity.