Women's History Month is a good time to pat ourselves on the back -- but it's also a critical time to remind ourselves that we have a long way to go yet. Case in point: some recent ugly incidents around a women's soccer league that plays in the Glendale Sports Complex in Southern California. As reported today in the WeHo News, three different lesbian players have been assaulted during actual play on several occasions by other players, including some of their own teammates. The lesbians have also been subjected to verbal insults and abuse on the field.
Women who are violent against other women
In spite of escalating complaints by the three women, the referees do nothing about it -- though the rules of the game require them to issue yellow or red cards (penalties) for deliberate injurious contact or unsportsmanlike remarks. The women's team captain and the soccer league have done nothing to stop the problem either. The Glendale Sports Complex appears to be taking a "hands off" stance. Since it's a private sports league, not school based, the decision-makers evidently take the attitude -- so far, anyway -- that human-rights accountability is not required of the perpetrators.
So here's the irony: the female perps of these unpunished (so far) assaults are supposedly celebrating their liberation as women by taking on a sport traditionally dominated by men. Yet they are willing to trash women who have a different sexual orientation and drive them out of the game with a level of violence that you seldom see on the field even among male players.
The Glendale incidents bring up a festering national problem that is seldom talked about: ideology-motivated violence by women against other women. This violence happens when women feel empowered by their families, ministers, schools, organizations, etc. to appoint themselves as social police. They go racing out to hammer on other women who they believe are transgressing against the rules of society. As our country grows ever more reactionary and divided on issues, these rhetoric-driven crimes seem to be growing in number.
There is a conventional view that many liberals and old-school feminists cherish, namely that "men are naturally violent and aggressive" and "women are naturally pacifist and non-aggressive." Anybody who takes a close, hard look at the rising tide of violence by women in our society knows that this view is so much horse pucky. In part, the growing female population in our prisons is there because of "victimless crimes," like drug use, or because they are women who dared to defend themselves in domestic abuse situations and got harshly prosecuted.
But women (and that includes lesbian and bi women) can and do commit violent acts. They can batter or murder their own children, their families. They can commit serial killings. They can join gangs in rampages against their neighborhoods and rival gangs. They can ignite into road rage. They can be the battering and abusive partner in domestic relationships. In schools, there is growing verbal and physical bullying by girls. Last but not least, women can and do unleash themselves into the bashing of lesbians, gay men and trans people.
At its worst, female-on-female violence explodes when our ever-more-conservative society is willing to harness that potential in women for its own purposes. It deliberately stirs women up against the fancied transgressors -- as when screaming female demonstrators turn out at abortion clinics to harass women patients and physically attempt to prevent them from going into clinics. Organizations like Concerned Women of America go as far as they legally dare in print, with verbal rabble-rousing against women whose morals they don't approve of -- lesbians, feminists, celebrities who are sex symbols, unmarried movie stars who have babies, advocates of birth control, etc. The organization insists that it isn't responsible for any actual violence that their rhetoric might stir up. (I made them furious some years ago when I called them the "Unconcerned Women of America" in a Des Moines Register commentary of mine.)
I don't believe for a minute that women or men are naturally violent against others. Like all mammals, we would normally prefer to avoid a fight if possible. It's just the safer, survival-friendly thing to do! If we're attacked, it is natural for us to explode with adrenaline and fight for our lives in a very violent manner if we have to. We will also fight like tigers to protect our mates, our families and our friends when these are threatened. In this, we're no different than most of the wild animals out there.
But cold, calculated, premeditated, targeted "violence for violence's sake" against others is a trait that animals don't share with us. Authoritarian types of human society, alone of all Earth's living creatures, are willing to teach, and even to tolerate and excuse, this kind of violence in the name of maintaining the type of "order" that it desires. It's my thinking that this kind of violence is not inborn. It is taught.
Hence the pathetic spectacle of these women soccer players in Glendale who have been deluded into believing that they are sports-world police. They feel entrusted with the "sacred duty" of running the local lesbians out of their game.
Violence against women is a huge problem that America shares with most other countries in the world right now -- and it's an ongoing challenge that the women's movement still faces. And it must target this growing violence by other women. Both males and females must be educated and inspired to junk all the deadly old attitudes. It is no more acceptable for women to harass or batter other women into cowed compliance than it is for men to do it.
We may be hearing more about this case. When one of the lesbian players was asked by the WeHo News writer what her plan was, she said: "Do what you think is right. Stand up for yourself and for the people around you. Never, let it get you down, it's their problem. And...never let them see you sweat!"