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Kate said good sex has to be egalitarian. She
suggested that men should "learn how to do it better-
not only to become better lovers but also more lovable."
And, in a post-lecture visit to a local lesbian watering
hole, Kate offered hope to a 29 year-old lesbian who asked
whether there was sex after 30. Kate, who is 42, smiled. "It
Del Martin on Battered Wives
Del Martin, long a lesbian activist, recently authored Battered wives,
and came to Houston as a national authority on the subject. The problem itself
has only recently "come out of the closet." For literally centuries women have
been accepting their beatings silently, thinking they were to blame. Like the
lesbian, the battered wife has often thought she was "the only one in the whole world."
Now that it's coming into the open, battered women everywhere are seeking help.
Del calls domestic violence "probably the most underreported crime there is."
In fact, one rape hotline has been getting 25 wife-battering calls to every rape call.
In Houston, the YWCA gets 100 - 200 calls a month about problems relating to the need
for shelter. Thirty to forty percent of all calls to the Houston Police Department
are for domestic intervention. And, according to the FBI, 1 of 5 police deaths in the
line of duty are in response to domestic violence calls.
"Evidence of wife-beating exists wherever one cares to look for it," says Del.
And wife-beating transcends all lines, including class. No matter how much her husband makes, if a woman takes her children
and leaves, she may face poverty.
Why do husbands beat their wives?
As one battered wife put it, "I may be
his excuse, but I have never been the
reason." Del suggests we look to the
Every two minutes in the U.S.,
ONE WOMAN IS RAPED AND FOUR
WOMEN ARE BEATEN BY THEIR
- FBI Statistics
Del's immediate prescription is for women to have shelters where they can stay
at least 3 to 4 weeks, to give them a chance to explore their options. Battered
wives also give each other invaluable emotional support and affirmation at these
shelters, and that's often what they need most. And, she tells men they need to work
with each other. "The fastest way to solve this would be through peer pressure--
if men would let other men know battering is not acceptable."
Locally, the YWCA Women in Crisis Committee, which sponsored Del's visit, just
got a $6,000 planning grant. This will enable them to work out a funding proposal
for a shelter, hopefully to open in one year's time. Estimated cost: $100,000-200,000.
We asked Del about violence between lesbian lovers. "My theory is that it happens
more often in couples where they are playing roles--the butch/femme thing—because
these are power relationships." What about women that get violent over another woman?
"Jealousy is an indication of insecurity of a person. Also, I think it could indicate
their sense of ownership of another person. And you can't own another person."
She switched back to the issue of men's hostility toward women. "You really
ought to read Andrea Dworkin's book, woman Hating.1' I took her suggestion, and it's
a brilliant book. I'll report on it next issue, ok?
- Pokey Anderson