This paper is an attempt to examine domestic violence in lesbian relationships, and the modern response to it, in a social and historical context. I chose to examine domestic violence within lesbian relationships in an attempt to look at violence in relationships outside the context of male and female. I did this because the popular beliefs that men are abusers and women are abused made it difficult to discuss or consider what was actually occurring in these troubled relationships, and what each partner contributed to the dynamic.
(Now, in 2011, those attitudes and beliefs have become imbedded into law and practice, particularly since the O.J. Simpson trial, and it is even more difficult to attempt a discussion on these issues. In an increasing number of occasions, the laws passed to control domestic violence have become a form of violence in themselves. However, the idea that at least occasionally these laws, and their enforcement, may be a source of social problems, rather than the solution, is ignored or shouted down.
I can only hope that in the next few years, as more and more middle- class families experience what happens when, in their opinion, an ordinary intense disagreement between two people in a relationship turns into an emotional and financial disaster because of intervention by the legal system, these laws will be amended to reflect real social needs.)
THE SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE OF VIOLENCE AS A MEANS OF CONTROL OR AS A SIMPLE, EVEN PREFERRED, SOLUTION TO PROBLEMS
In 1985 one fifth of the worlds population was living under military controlled governments (Harper's Index Book), and it may around half now since China so brutally squashed its citizens' move toward democracy (Harper's Index Book). The reunification of Germany and the changes taking place in the Soviet Union have happened too recently to predict whether the forces that move nations toward democracy will prevail. One third of the world's nations practiced torture between 1980 and 1986. It is estimated that world military expenditures in 1986 were $850 billion (Harper's Index Book). The top three countries in the world in per capita percentage of their population in prison in 1985, and in order, are the Soviet Union, South Africa and the U.S. In 1985, sixty-nine percent of the $2.1 billion federal antidrug budget went to law enforcement compared to 1% to drug education to reduce use (Harper's Index Book). The number of people in prison in the United States has more than doubled in the last 12 years. Do you feel safer on the street?
Violence, and the portrayal of violence, is one of our chief forms of entertainment in the U.S. Sports, (where people suffer many injuries), violent television and the physical punishment of children are widely accepted and supported. The average American child has seen 16,000 murders portrayed on television by age 16.
Eighty-three percent of American parents reported that they spank their children in 1985, though only forty...