The Spectacle of Violence: Homophobia, Gender, and Knowledge

The Spectacle of Violence: Homophobia, Gender, and Knowledge

The Spectacle of Violence: Homophobia, Gender, and Knowledge

The Spectacle of Violence: Homophobia, Gender, and Knowledge

Synopsis

Drawing on in-depth interviews with women reflecting a range of experiences of verbal hostility, physical violence and sexual violence, Spectacle of Violence explores the issues surrounding violence and hostility towards lesbians and gay men.Challenging current thinking, Gail Mason highlights the ways in which different identities, bodes and systems of through interact, and asks fundamental questions:* Where does violence come from?* What effects does it have?* How do lesbians and gay men manage the risk of violence?* What is the relationship between violence and power?She argues for the importance of thinking about homophobic violence in the context of other core issues such as gender and race.Focusing on 'real life' experiences of violence, The Spectacle of Violence is an important contribution to current thought about violence. Moving beyond issues of causation and prevention, it offers new ways of theorizing the relationship between identity, knowledge and power.

Excerpt

It was amidst the heat and humidity of a women's shelter in the far north of Australia that I first began to think about violence. Working at the shelter was my initiation into the complexities and contradictions of assisting women and children whose lives had been disrupted, sometimes forever altered, by acts of violence. Physically, the shelter was located in an old wooden house. Like many houses in the tropics, it was built atop high stilts, designed to catch the slightest breeze. Anyone who has spent a summer in the tropics will understand the almost religious fervour with which locals approach the task of cooling their houses. In the shelter, this obsession had long since given way to the problem of over-crowding. The ground floor of the house had been converted into small, airless, box-like rooms, each housing multiple beds. This was the only means of accommodating the ever-escalating numbers of women and children in need of refuge. Added to this stifling atmosphere were the metal bars that encased every window and the security locks that were affixed to every door; devices that are rare in this part of the world. We could see out, but no one could see in. More importantly, no one could get in.

Although I was initially ambivalent about the necessity of this for tress approach to security, I soon learnt that it was indispensable. The address of the shelter was meant to be a secret. But you can't keep a secret in a small town. A couple of times, when I was working the over-night shift, I was woken at about three or four in the morning by an irate man banging on the door, shouting abuse and threats, shaking the bars, and demanding that his wife come home. Every time this happened, I would think that the recompense for feeling hot and confined in our boxed-in refuge was feeling safe and secure. This brought some relief.

During the time I worked at the shelter, I met a couple of women who have remained in my memory. They arrived at the shelter together, bringing their respective children with them. They came from a small outback town, and we were just one stop on a carefully laid route of escape. For some time, the two women had been having an affair. This had become general knowledge in

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