Landmark Case Puts Domestic Violence on the Map in China: An American makes it Happen

Posted by GWEN
Posted on February 12, 2013

As many news outlets have reported, there has been a first in China — an
American named Kim Lee made legal history when she was granted a divorce on
grounds of domestic violence.

Lee, an American teacher, met her husband, a millionaire Chinese entrepreneur
and founder of English learning program known as Crazy English, while she
was on a research trip to China to study foreign-language teaching practices in
1999. They fell in love, married soon after, and had three children. The couple
was a household name in China and often the center of frenzied crowds and
paparazzi. But in 2011 that image changed into what the Chinese press called “a
folk hero for China’s battered wives,” when Lee uploaded photos of her injuries to
the Web and went public with her abuse. The images showed her face bruised
and puffy, with a bloody ear and a raised bump on her forehead. She was a
victim of domestic abuse, her message explained. In going public about a secret
most families in China have long preferred to keep hidden, Lee bravely started a
conversation and may have set an important precedent.

As reported in The New York Times, the judgment was a victory not only for Lee
and her three daughters, but also for advocates of the rule of law on behalf of
China’s often-silenced victims of domestic violence. “All of society was paying
attention,” Guo Jianmei, a prominent lawyer told the New York Times reporter,
Didi Kirsten Tatlow, after the ruling. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

Widely overlooked, the extent of domestic violence in China is difficult to
measure. Bloomberg News reported that although most officially cited studies
are thought to underestimate its prevalence, in 2011, the All China Women’s
Federation, a state-steered non-governmental organization, released its findings
that 25 percent of women in China have been victims of some form of domestic
violence. A survey by the China Law Society put that number at 35 percent. An
academic study published in 1999 in the International Journal of Gynecology
and Obstetrics found that 16 percent of pregnant woman admitted to the clinic of
Hong Kong’s Tsan Yuk Hospital had suffered domestic abuse in the preceding

Lee took her husband to court and ignited a national conversation about
domestic abuse. The Atlantic reported that on the street she encountered men
who cursed her. In perhaps the clearest sign of what she was confronting, her
husband’s lawyer, Shi Ziyue, disputed that the abuse constituted “domestic
violence” because, he said, “Domestic violence is when a man hits and injures
his wife frequently over a long time but has no reason, but my client did that
because he had conflicts with his wife.”

And yet, Lee found that China’s new social-media networks equipped women
across the country to reach out to her. By last Friday, just before the ruling, Lee
had received more than 1,400 messages of support from strangers. Lee stated
to the New York Times, “It quickly became a matter of the other women and their
stories. No one else was speaking out. I just felt I had to.”

After the verdict, Lee posted a message to the Web: “Believe that there’s light at
the end of the tunnel.”


The Atlantic, February 7, 2013

The New Yorker, February 5, 2013

New Your Times, February 4, 2013

Anonymous Gay Teen Empowerment Letter

Posted by GWEN
Posted on February 05, 2013

I’m tired of guys regarding feminism as a “women issue”. This general apathetic attitude towards feminism amongst males is very perplexing to me. As a society, we regards issues like feminism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression as a thing of the past. White people don’t think racism is present in society anymore, straight people think that the only concern in the LGBT community is marriage equality, men think that women only faced societal oppression when they couldn’t vote, and cis individuals don’t even care to educate themselves on trans* issues. This is a problem.

As a male, I need feminism because people need to stop saying pussy or girl or bitch or slut as an insult. I’m tired of anything associated with females/feminism as something less than. Yet anything associated with males/masculinity is considered superior and powerful. Why is it that if a man wears a dress to work it is obscene or “drag”? Why is it that if a man wears make-up to school it is indecent or inappropriate? Why is a man carrying a purse a reason to cause outrage? It is because it is obscene, indecent, inappropriate, and provoking to be associated with the feminine and therefore with women? Unfortunately that is what society is telling us.

This lack of logic unfortunately transfers over to the LGBT community. Guys that don’t act overtly masculine are called queens, fairies, or women. It is common to hear the phrase “If I wanted to date a girl I would just be straight” when referring to guys who are even mildly feminine. While we are all entitled to our own opinions/attractions, but this blatant hatred towards the feminine is astonishing and appalling.

Personally I have had struggles as an LGBT youth. I thought that as a man I had a responsibility to get a job, find a wife, have kids, and come home to her and my kids. Upon finding out that life had a different plan for me, I was heartbroken. I hated myself. There was a solid year where I couldn’t bring myself to even look at my reflection in the mirror. I made several unwise choices regarding drug and alcohol use just to numb myself and I harmed my body and my soul because I felt like I deserved to be punished. I was so desperate to find some love in my life I sacrificed my morals and my ethics just so for a few minutes I could feel like someone actually cared about me, even if this someone had a girlfriend and carelessly threw fag and other homophobic phrases around in daily conversation. Coming from a conservative household, coming out was hell. It resulted and sometimes still results in volatile arguments.

But one day when I was feeling particularly poor about myself and about to make an unwise decision, but I watched some “It Gets Better” videos, just to see if there was any hope left. I saw an impactful video with the employees at Pixar, and after watching it I looked at my reflection. I really stared at it. I began to see myself for who I really was, and that was someone who deserved love. I had these people telling me that there wasn’t something wrong with me. That even though my religion class, some of my peers, and every media outlet available, was telling me that I was disgusting and equal to a pervert or a pedophile, they were wrong. This was such a powerful moment for me. While it wasn’t something that made me never think poorly about myself again, it was a little seed planted within me.

Over time this seed has grown. I can proudly say that I can see myself and I love who I am. It hasn’t been easy though. I have had several vicious arguments with individuals who insist there is something wrong with me. I have had people refuse to hangout with me simply because they feel as though I am dead-set on taking them to bed.(Get over yourself bud). I hear words like fag or faggot, or queer directed at me every day as I walk through the hallways at my school. One time I left my book in a history class and someone took the liberty to write fag all over the inside cover after seeing my name on it. I have had relationships with boys who get scared at the thought of even saying they might not be straight and leave me before anything gets serious. Do these things hurt me? Of course! But the important thing is that I have cultivated a self love that no preacher or teacher or government official can tell me is wrong. There are still days when I don’t know if I have the courage to even get out of bed. But what keeps me going is that somewhere out there, a scared 15 year old like I was may see me and believe they have the courage to be true to themselves too. I will take every curse and hateful action that comes to me on a daily basis if that means they will feel better about who they are.

While I painted a somewhat grim picture there is hope. As a result of me being out and honest with who I am, attitudes are changing. I have friends who are both guys and girls and they love me for who I am as a person. My sexual orientation is just a sidenote, just like my favorite color (green) and my weakness for sour cream and onion potato-chips. People who were homophobic prior to me coming out have confessed their attitudes towards the LGBT community have wildly changed as a result of knowing me. These same people now will call out people for using derogatory terms or language. My homelife has become a lot better because of my honesty and my willingness to fight for what is right. I am trying to start a GSA for the first time ever at my school. All past efforts have been shot down, I have hope that with a different tactic and some honest conversation, this time will be different.

While I do have to be anonymous in this letter because of specific person reasons, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for starting GWEN. While we come from a vast array of cultures, sexual orientations, economic status, and genders, we all deserve respect. I feel as though GWEN can bring upon that respect and I applaud you in your efforts. I will do whatever I can to further your movement. Because it does not matter if you think that something is a woman’s issue or an LGBT issue or a racial issue, they are ALL human issues.

“GWEN Talks” with Betsy Chasse

Posted by GWEN
Posted on January 20, 2013

On Saturday, January 12, GWEN’s COO and Co-Founder, Tess Cacciatore,
spoke with internationally known filmmaker, author, radio host, blogger and
speaker, Betsy Chasse, on a GWEN Talks teleseminar.

Betsy, Tess and conference participants spoke about how to face life with
honesty and integrity, and how one can rise out of the ashes after a tragedy to
find inner purpose and passion.

Betsy shared with candor her successes and failures that led to her personal
transformation — the serendipitous journey of co-writing and directing the
internationally acclaimed film “What the Bleep do We Know?” to her painful
divorce, which left Betsy a single mother of two. Betsy’s journey to the dark side
led her to question her life, her actions, and eventually she realized she was
perpetuating a story that wasn’t authentic.

Betsy came to understand her issues around her worth, or lack thereof, was self-
created and how she pre-defined how to act to put on a show for the world. After
soul searching, she realized she was not being true to herself and had to start
accepting herself for who she was and not by a predefined script.

“You can get caught up in that story and you don’t like yourself. You know you
are not being authentic in the world and it starts eating away at you. I needed to
love myself. It is easier to love yourself, when you are being yourself,” said

Betsy was able to find her true and authentic voice, learn to embrace that voice,
and accept that life is full of trials and tribulations. However, you have the ability
to create your own story, where difficult or painful incidents do not define the
story but are elements you meet and overcome along the way.

Ask yourself “Is this crises in my life going to rule me, or is it just a part of
my life that I have to deal with?”

Betsy’s most recent projects include an upcoming book, “Tipping Sacred Cows”
and a feature film “Killing Buddha.”

Listen to the Teleseminar