Love as Violence, Violence as Love

A Loving Violence

Caribbean media have framed two recent stories about “domestic violence” as “love stories”.

Nation News Barbados begins its its story about a man who shot a woman in her head, leaving her blind in one eye with “MICHAEL GODDARD knows how it feels to love so strongly that you are pushed to the limits to commit the ultimate crime.”

The story goes on to say that he attributes his premeditated violence against his former girlfriend to “lack of communication from both of us”.

That a man could seek to have his partner share in the responsibility of waylaying and attempting to execute her demonstrates what  researchers in the Caribbean and elsewhere have documented: that in talking about their violence against women, men who commit acts of violence often distance themselves from the violence, refuse to take responsibility and hold their partners responsible for the violence (and are particularly silent on the sexual violence they commit). For example, researcher Raquel Sukhu of Trinidad & Tobago concludes

In all cases, the men presented negative assessments of their female partners, and women in general, and where isolated incidents of physical abuse were acknowledged, the women were blamed, the extent of injury minimized, and men’s responsibility denied or the violence was justified by her prior actions. I concluded that each one was violent, despite their protests and denials, as a result of triangulation of sources of data and methods of data collection. The men demonstrated, despite their claims to ‘‘not thinking’’ and ‘‘not remembering,’’ the intention to cause harm to their partners and engaged in goal-oriented violence. Typically, incidents of violence are characterized by the men as accidents, happening in the heat of the moment, and not intended to cause harm. Simultaneously,
however, these incidents are seen as justified in light of the actions of the woman. While it was difficult to obtain admissions of specific incidents of violence from the men, their overall accounts reflected this feeling of justification of their actions as we will clearly see in the excerpts.

In another recent story from Guyana, a 19 year-old man was killed by his 38-year-old step uncle who also attacked and injured the young man’s girlfriend.  This story was also framed by the media as a love story. While the article itself suggests that the young man was in fact stalked by his step uncle, previously attacked by him and possibly sexually abused  the report still referred to the relationship as “a love affair” and the victim as the “lover” of the man who killed him.

Both reports use love and jealousy as a rationale for murder as does Goddard in his interview. The media’s recourse to a love story framing suggests that this is a logic that is shared by or at least intelligible to the public.  Love and violence go hand in hand. “Love” allows men who commit violence to distance themselves from that violence and hold their partners responsible for it.

Often when domestic violence is talked about you hear very little about love beyond the oft-repeated “some women believe that if he don’t beat me he don’t love me.” Perhaps we need to examine love more closely and figure out just why our understanding of love encompasses ownership, violence and coercion. What role does “love” play in child sexual abuse and early sexual initiation in the Caribbean? What  do we mean by love and do women and men, boys and girls have different understandings of love? What is the relationship between love and relations of power based on gender, age etc? Is love itself  a relation of power?



Moore Talk About the Politics of HeteroSEX


i think i’ve grown bored with sex. not the act itself, but the idea of the thing and what we do with the idea of it.

as a woman i must expect to be beaten like a slave, mash up til i can’t walk and somehow smile about that in the morning. roughness has its place but honestly, must my pum pum be utterly destroyed at the end of every sex act? can we be nice to the vagina?

as a woman i must expect to represent everytime i jump on the dick, i have to prove myself by doing various things in a crowd and to the point of gagging just so the man knows i appreciate his penis. yes, its  a flag raised in triumph at the base of my now conquered vagina.

i suppose its a bit simpler in lesbian relationships, there’s slightly less historical garbage to…

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Sexual Violence is a Men’s Issue


Caribbean journalist Ricky Singh indicts regional and national women’s groups, women lawyers and women politicians for being silent in the face of sexual violence against women.

Roberta Clarke, on her Roots and Rights blog, pointed out that for the last 20 years women’s organisations have in fact been speaking out, advocating for legislation, running shelters and crisis centres  etc. Caribbean women have been anything but silent in the face of relentless and ongoing violence. In the 1980s schoolgirls in St. Vincent and the Grenadines marched to protest sexual violence and in 2013 women’s groups across the region continue to do unrecognised, invisibilised work.

When it comes to sexual violence the overwhelming majority of persons who are raped or sexually assaulted are women and girls and the overwhelming majority of rapists are men.  Men and boys too are victims of rape (though not at the same rates as women and girls) and in these cases too, men are the overwhelming majority of rapists.  It should therefore be self-evident that sexual violence is a men’s issue.  And the more appropriate question to ask is why men as the majority of elected leaders in the region, as individuals and members of various men’s organisations are not doing everything in their power to end sexual violence. Rape is a men’s issue.  Ending rape, speaking out against violence against women and girls is the collective responsibility of men.

Yet, men collectively, as major power brokers in the region, are silent.

Why are Caribbean men silent on rape? Why did it not occur to Rickey Singh to ask this question? Why is men’s silence not shocking?

Everybody should be outraged when schoolgirls are sexually harassed in the street and on public transportation, when women are killed by their intimate partners, when police officers turn away rape survivors for being naked, when payments are accepted in lieu of prosecution in cases of child sexual abuse, when our legal system supports this form of injustice, when deputy commissioners of police suggest that teen girls are the ones responsible for the sexual crimes against them. Everybody should be outraged.  Not just women.  Not just the handful of women parliamentarians.  Not just overworked and underfunded women’s organisations. EVERYBODY.  And that includes men who for too long have been shamefully silent.  (Big up attorney Lennox Sankersingh and the other lawyers who have offered to support rape survivors throughout the legal process in Trinidad and Tobago).

Why are men silent on sexual violence against women and girls?

What does their silence communicate?

Does it communicate an acceptance of rape culture, of gender inequality? An understanding that violence against women and girls and the threat of it is part of what helps to maintain male privilege? A desire to see that privilege maintained at all costs?

It’s time we heard from Caribbean men what they intend to do to end gender-based violence.

I’m all ears…