Originally posted at My Elegant Gathering of White Snows
The women’s services that aren’t closing due to lack of funding, like Eaves, are being replaced by ‘neutral’ services. Local authorities are increasingly giving funding for refuges to homeless services and others that do not recognised the gendered reality of domestic violence. In at least one recent case, a woman fleeing an abusive male partner found herself housed in the same facility as the man because the local council did not recognise women’s specific vulnerabilities. There have been numerous reported cases of men claiming to be victims of domestic violence solely to be housed in the same facility as their former partner. There are a number of cases in Canada and the US where men claiming to be transwomen to gain access to women’s spaces where these self-defining transwomen have committed sexual assault and rape. None of these aren’t aberrations. They are a direct consequence of the failure to recognise and differentiate between the hierarchical power relations of the social construction of gender and the material reality of sexed (and racialised) bodies.
Women cannot identify out of the biological reality of their body. Pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause exist. Women’s bodies exist. The preponderance of violence against women and girls is because women are constructed as less than men. Women due to the majority of caring because our culture links having a uterus to doing all the caring work. Men who engage in coercively controlling behaviours believe they have the right to do so – male entitlement is the basis of violence against women and girls. Our entire culture assumes men’s inalienable rights of sexual access to women’s bodies and their control over (re)productive labour. The judicial system, family, civil and criminal, still view women and children as the possessions of men. ‘Neutral’ policies on domestic and sexual violence and abuse are created to erase the identity of perpetrators: men. Ignoring the hierarchical social construction of gender makes it easier for local authorities to defund specialist women’s services. After all, if anyone can self-identify as male or female, the sex of the perpetrator and of the victims becomes irrelevant.