Have you ever read a book that pleasantly surprised you, one that turned out to be something totally different that what you expected? Queering sexual violence is not that kind of book. Its uniqueness and beauty can be found precisely in the fact that it is exactly what it promises to be: a collection of raw, brutally honest essays on violence, abuse and how their cycles overlap or meet or “define” the spectrum of gender identity and sexuality.
Throughout the course of the book abuse is widely explored; its aspects, its forms, its consequences and variations. None of the authors shy away from it, each of them exploring a different side of it, or a different perspective. If you expect to find a book that feeds into the male/female, gay/straight dichotomy and binary, back away now! The “co-authors” of the book explore and challenge stereotypes and views that may not sit well with many people at first, spilling truths that are hard to shallow.
I would not like to dwell on a specific essay or author, since I found all of them to be equally important and vital in terms of understanding violence within and in relation to the queer community. Family, forgiveness, recovery and understanding are recurring topics of conversation throughout the length of the book. Race, ethnicity, religion, disability, class and work status are also mentioned as factors that affect the reality of abuse many queer people are facing. Queerness and abuse are not studied separately, but in relation to each other, which brings up a very controversial topic of conversation: violence and abuse in relationships between lgbt+ people and how often it occurs. And when it does, should it be reported?
I know some of you may find the above question bizarre; of course it should be reported! And I couldn’t agree more. Violence in any way, shape or form and within any kind of relationship is unacceptable and should not go unnoticed. However, lgbt+ people hiding or not reporting incidents of abuse, in fear of painting the community in a negative light or feeding into negative stereotypes is not unheard of. The marginalization and oppression of lgbt+ people is a key factor on these essays, essays that make sure to put trans women, bisexuals and gender non-conforming people(among others) front and center, giving a voice to groups that are often neglected or oppressed even within their own communities and safe spaces.
While I found this book to be a very educational and important one, I would advise you to not got into it lightly. The sheer nature of the topic the author chose to explore, makes it a tough one and the brutal, unyielding honesty of each and every one of its essays make it even tougher. I found myself in the verge of tears, disgusted or frightened more than once, so, please, approach it with caution.
*An ARCopy was provided via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
**Trigger warnings for: ab*se and r*pe**
*** I used the term queer as an umbrella term, because it’s a term I, myself , feel comfortable using and because it was also the word the author used in the book***