Thursday, November 17, 2005

Books, books, and more books!

Just returned from a great book-reading at the University. The book is "Pink Blood: Homophobic Violence in Canada," by Douglas Victor Janoff. He looks at violent acts committed against GLBT people in Canada from (I think) 1990 to 2003. Very interesting conclusions.

There were more violent acts reported to the community centre in Toronto, for example, than were reported to police--some of that is because the incident may not have reached a point the police could legally call a crime, but a lot of the difference is because people did not report it, feeling that the police would not take them seriously and/or they would be harassed by the police as well. Some victims did not see the attack on them as homophobic. Many of the defendants (when the perpetrator[s] were found/arrested) pleaded "homosexual panic."Gay men were more likely to be attacked than women and almost all the attackers were men.

Often the attitudes towards the victim mirrored the attitudes towards female rape victims--"he asked for it, inviting someone he barely knew back to his house," or "if he weren't so swishy, no one would bother him." (which parallels "she shouldn't dress so sexily") and so on.

Also, in the cases of homicide, there was a high degree of "overkill;" the use of more than one method (knife and strangulation, for example) or many stab wounds, many more than would simply kill someone. And most of these cases the police tried to pass off as "robbery gone wrong!"

It reinforces a theory I came across early in my studies of gay theory, and that is that the root of homophobia is really misogyny. After all, what is it that many straight men think of gay men? That they are acting like women (either behaviorally or sexually), as if that were the worst thing to be in the world. Homophobia comes into play against lesbians because they don't need men in their lives, not even for sex (which is not to say that lesbians don't like men--I have a son I love very much, as does DP and many of our friends; and we have male friends who are GBT and straight; but we can get along without them). Therefore, they have to be "punished" because every "real" woman wants a man, and every "real" man has a woman at his beck and call.


Anyway, I'm now figuring ways I can save my ducats and buy the book. Like most university press books (it's published by the University of Toronto Press), it's pricey, at $32.50. However, I can probably scrape it together one way or another--I do have a wedding next week!

And on a slightly different note, with the reading I've been doing in women's issues and women's spirituality, I was reminded of another book (now there's a surprise!), "The Bone People," by Keri Hulme. It's very difficult to describe, but it's set in New Zealand, on one of the smaller islands, and concerns a woman, a couple of men, and a young boy whom the woman is trying to help. As I recall it, all the adults are alcoholic, and there are some very deep issues going on. I remember it as emotionally difficult to read but ultimately rewarding. So I picked it up from the library this morning--we'll see how it matches my memory!

I also picked up one of the books from my list: Alice Miller's "For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Childrearing and the Roots of Violence." It's something I'm interested in, since spanking was a bone of contention between me and my ex-husband. I grew up with very little spanking, and raised our son with the idea that you spanked very rarely--only in cases of danger to himself or others. My ex-husband felt otherwise, even though he had hated the physical punishment he had received as a kid. He thought it was a way to get the kid's attention. My feeling was that it just taught him that you can enforce your will with violence and greater strength--an especially dangerous concept for women who are around men who believe that. So I want to see what Miller is saying about the whole thing.

Well, I guess I'll be staying out of trouble for a few days--lots of reading to do!

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