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Lesbian: Fight Back

Lesbian: Fight Back

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In 1977 the group laid down demos for a second album, songs with a heavier edge such as the punk-influenced live favourite Just Raped, and soon after they were headlining a weekly gay night at legendary London punk venue the Roxy. “The clientele at the Roxy were similar to any other night,” says Handbag’s Paul Southwell. “Teenagers trying to find themselves. Although the club was a shithole I do remember Handbag having some great nights in there, with the kids really liking us.’ By pitting two glamorous stars against one another and having them get all rough-and-tumble, there’s an inherent queer appeal to the movie trope. Plus, it’s worth noting that one of the earliest and most celebrated filmic catfights can be found in the 1939 Western, Destry Rides Again: A long, unbroken brawl scene between Una Merkel and none other than Marlene Dietrich, one of the original gay icons of the silver screen. Miss Lynn Sexpot played by Britney Spears vs. Miss Kenedy Tightass played by Cori Nadine Story by ??????? Friend groups can become divided and the survivor may fear losing her only LGBTQ support network," Kauffman says. "This can be especially challenging for survivors who live in areas where the community is small or there is a more hostile climate towards LGBTQ people."

Over 10 years later, same-sex rape on college campuses is just starting to be quantified on a national level. Haven, an online sexual assault and awareness program that logs sexual assaults directly from students, works with self-reported data from over 800 colleges and universities. Haven had never compiled a report on undergraduate women who have been assaulted by women, but teamed up with MarieClaire.com to reveal new information: While the number of reported sexual assaults by women was low compared to assaults overall (only about 2.5 percent), the most striking difference came down to the likelihood of survivors to report the incident: 30 percent of women assaulted by another woman told no one, compared to 25 of women who didn't report an assault by a man.From the outset, they wore their political beliefs on their sleeves. “The political perspective helped make sense of our personal experiences,” Rosemary explains. “We naturally started writing about what was happening in our lives. The gay, lesbian and feminist movements were taking off, and our politics and music became inextricably linked. We realised that there was a real hunger for political songs written and performed by lesbians. We all shared the burning desire to play, create and develop our music in a safe environment. Women were still not allowed the freedom of forming and leading bands. It was a fight to be allowed to be anything other than the eye-candy singer fronting a load of men.” The boundaries of what a woman is allowed to be and express are strictly controlled in the service of submission. The perfect woman is demure, patient, sweet, resilient in the face of adversity but not resilient enough to stand up and fight. Expectations double up for lesbians, by definition missing a key piece of the puzzle that is socially acceptable womanhood: availability for pleasuring men. We all have our ways of dealing with our social station, and just about none of them are flawless conformity. That would require women to not feel anger. And we do, of course we do, volcanic solar flares of rage in their simplest form. Expressing such raw fury, though, leads women to social and professional ruin much more often than men. So we also metamorphose anger into a unique, icy seething, a rapier underneath the cloak. It is an involuntarily acquired skill, resulting from the repeated motions of hiding irritation from catcallers, internet strangers, professional superiors, misgenderers, friends-of-friends, even family members. But it is a skill. You wield it and you make it yours and you never cave, even when you pretend you do.

There was no other living woman in the world who had done anything as intimate to Barhu as chopping off two of her fingers. The fight club is run by Bear (Fortune’s role) and Anna could actually make some money if she hops in the ring. Anna at first finds it a little ridiculous, but eventually gives in. While training to fight Bella Thorne with Alec Baldwin (what a sentence!) Anna eventually learns that fight club isn’t just about a physical and mental release. The fight club is about sisterhood, in every sense of the world. Fighting bonds these women for life, and teaches them that life is short, and supporting other women is so important. By 1978 they were recording, first as the Lupin Sisters (in a nod to Monty Python), and later as Ova, issuing their debut album in 1979. The Yoko Ono-influenced Lesbian Fighting Song, with its rallying cry of “you men better watch out … We’re going to fight the power, you hold us down” became a live favourite, and over the following decade Ova toured Europe and America and released three further albums via women’s collective Stroppy Cow records. It's been four years since Alaina was raped and she still has no plans to pursue formal charges against her rapist. She says, unflinchingly, that she has moved on in other ways: She's chosen to change her name, and has moved to a new city where she has pursued a successful freelance writing career, often writing about sexual assault within the LGBTQ community. Fantasy stories involving fictional characters in catfights and sexual fantasies. Superheroines, TV characters, Cheerleaders and many more battle it out for your satisfaction.Stephanie Trilling, manager of community awareness and prevention services at the Boston Area Rape Crisis (BARCC), observes that for her queer female clients who have been assaulted by women, the first hurdle is simply understanding the assault as rape. Since this scenario is rarely portrayed in the media or in educational programming, "it can be especially challenging to identify their experience as violence," she says. "Many people have a difficult time believing that a woman could be capable of inflicting violence on another person."

In the meantime, Langenderfer-Magruder asserts that language can be a powerful place to start correcting this oversight. Omitting the standard "he" as perpetrator and "she" for victim in laws, educational materials, and even just general discussion encourages awareness. "Research has clearly demonstrated that intimate partner violence does not happen in a solely heterosexual context—and the way we discuss it should reflect that," she says. This group is now two years old. Over the past couple of years many stories and pictures have been submitted. The focus of the group is still upon the written word. We have relaxed the original rule and allow pictures without narrative. We hope that some writers will work with artists to add narrative to pictures. This has proven true in a few cases. The assistant district attorney on the case, Susan J. Loehn, says the Northampton police performed a "thorough investigation" and treated the victim "in a sensitive manner." According to reports, the victim alleged that what started as a consensual sexual encounter at an off-campus apartment turned violent when she was placed in handcuffs, slapped across the face after withdrawing her consent, slashed across the abdomen with a knife, and sexually assaulted as one of the perpetrators held down her legs. "There was an incredible amount of media attention about this case," Loehn, now executive director of Northwestern Children's Advocacy Center, remembers. Too much, in fact, for the case to make a real impact with a verdict. "This victim was overwhelmed by the media attention. Smith College is a small college. People knew all of the parties involved. There were camera crews on her doorstep." The survivor ultimately decided to drop the charges. Like many sexual assault charges that die in a courtroom, the case now looms as a cautionary tale.

Weeks passed before Ella, 25, began to confide in her friends that she had been raped. While she didn't find them to be exactly unsupportive, there was still a consistent and major hurdle: "They are oftentimes surprised when they realize it was a woman who assaulted me." More information is needed at all levels—government, collegiate, and otherwise. All the experts we spoke to point to an overall dearth of research on intimate partner violence in queer female communities as the biggest obstacle in developing more accessible resources for survivors. At first, the sex was good," says Sarah. "But she always wanted more than what I could give. One day she came home with a strap-on; if I loved her, she said, I would allow her to use it." Sarah wasn't interested. "It was just something that I didn't like and didn't want," she says. She declined for months, her partner repeatedly pressuring her, until one night, Sarah's partner assaulted her with the strap-on. "Even though I was crying the whole time, she never stopped," Sarah recalls. Sarah left their home that night and sat crying in her car. As a child, she had been repeatedly sexually abused by an uncle —this assault felt just as violating. But she still wasn't sure if she would call it rape. "Because we were together, I thought that she had the right to have sex with me the way she wanted," Sarah explains.

Survivors are trapped in a cycle that delegitimizes their experience: first by downplaying the likelihood that it could happen at all, then by not validating it once it happens, and finally by not analyzing the data—and therefore creating awareness—after it does. Sarah is not an outlier. "Many of our clients in same-sex relationships are very hesitant to report at all," says Caitlin Kauffman, campus and community outreach coordinator for Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR)—where Sarah eventually sought counseling. The consequences of coming forward with sexual assault allegations are fraught for any sexual violence survivor. But for queer women, who already typically live, date, and make friends within a smaller network of other queer-identified women, the risks can be even more complex.Ferocious feuds between women—colloquially known as “catfights”—have a long and complicated history in cinema. Are they exploitative, degrading moments that cater to the straight male gaze? Often times, yes. Are they show-stopping, gasp-inducing scenes that you find yourself wanting to watch over and over again? Also yes! And then, for women who might not be "out," shame about their sexual orientation or a fear of being outted significantly hinders their ability to report. If you're closeted—or even semi-closeted—formally coming forward with sexual assault allegations could mean compromising your professional or familial relationships by revealing your orientation. (The guarantee of keeping your job as an LGBTQ American currently varies per state.) The downward economic spiral of losing one's job to report a same-sex rape that won't even be deemed legitimate is simply not worth it—literally. These gender norms can directly contribute to distrust of a victim's claims, says Lisa Langenderfer-Magruder, co-author of a recent study of LGBTQ intimate partner violencein Colorado. "When someone is confronted with a situation that doesn't quite fit that major narrative, they may question its validity," she says. All of this amounts to a culture in which most research on partner violence focuses on heterosexual relationships. "So, in some ways, we're playing catch up." When female victims of female assaults do pursue legal action, gender bias can severely hinder their ability to accurately report sexual violence. "Oftentimes, women in abusive same-sex relationships tell us that even when they do call the police, they are treated dismissively," recounts Kauffman. "'Women aren't violent.' 'This is just a girl fight, this is a waste of our time,' is a common attitude." According to the 2015 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, of LGBTQ individuals in Ohio who did report intimate partner violence, 21 percent experienced "indifferent" reactions from police. Another 28 percent experienced hostility. Thanks for stopping by. FemfightChronicles is dedicated to those of us who enjoy writing about women fighting women. Stories involving all forms of female combat will be posted here. Wrestling, boxing, cat fighting and fist fighting. Fantasy fights involving mythical creatures such as fairies, mermaids even TV characters will be accepted.

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