Across the globe, lesbians face verbal harassment and physical assault every day, Julie Bindel reported for Truthdig in September 2019. In July 2019, two lesbians riding a London bus were attacked after refusing to kiss for the entertainment of four young men. The teens witnessed a gesture of affection between the couple, to which they reacted by yelling sexual innuendo and repeatedly punching the women. This assault occurred just months after a 20-year-old woman from New York City was left with a broken spine after being shoved to the ground from behind by a man who also directed homophobic slurs at her. She was called a “dyke” after being spotted kissing another woman, and was attempting to leave the subway platform at the time of the attack. This act of violence followed the assassination of high-profile Brazilian activist, Marielle Fanco, who was murdered in March 2018 in a drive-by shooting. Fanco was one of the few women in Brazil to speak out against “lesbocide.” As Bindel reported, the dangers lesbians face for being out in public are connected to the misogynistic standards that are prevalent in the US and other nations around the world.
Across numerous cultures, women are expected to be motherly figures who should marry male partners, support their husbands, and raise children. When women display autonomy from men, they are subject to violence and dehumanization, typically through demeaning insults that often attack their physical appearance, brains, and morals. Lesbianism, Bindel wrote, is an affront to some men, for the simple reason that lesbians “have refused compulsory heterosexuality and have openly and unashamedly rejected men sexually.”
Bindel’s report documents the backlash against lesbians in Uganda, Brazil, the UK, Iran, India, South Africa, and the US. For example, Azadeh, an Iranian woman in her twenties, was abducted and forced into a “reorientation course.” She distinctly remembers being called a “pussy licker,” one of the tactics intended to shame her for her sexuality.
Although the corporate media do cover assaults on lesbians, and other forms of homophobia, these articles often fail to inform the public of how widespread violence against LGBTQ is.
CBS News reported on the shock and outrage that followed the London bus attack, however its coverage offered no insight on the extreme rates of violence lesbians are subjected to worldwide. The attack was treated by the CBS report as an isolated incident. In its coverage of the attack on the New York City woman, NBC News acknowledged that hate crimes against LGBTQ people in the US increased by three percent from 2016 to 2017, but the report did not consider the global prevalence of homophobia, such as the Brazilian poll which found that 80% of lesbians in that nation have experienced some form of anti-lesbian violence, as considered in Bindel’s Truthdig report.
“Until we eradicate sexism,” Bindel concluded, “anti-lesbian violence will be all too common.”
Source: Julie Bindel, “Lesbians Are a Target of Male Violence the World Over,” Truthdig, September 6, 2019, https://www.truthdig.com/articles/lesbians-are-a-target-of-male-violence-the-world-over/.
Student Researcher: Haley Hatch (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Don Romesburg (Sonoma State University)