Earlier in April, when eyes were transfixed on Don Imus and his controversial remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, another media storm quietly rolled into the local front. This one thundered over young lesbians of color, a vital segment of the city who deserve attention, though certainly not the disgraceful downpour that The Village Voice and the New York Post showered on them in two separate instances.
On Apr 11 in The Village Voice, a sensationalistic cover story entitled “Girls to Men” presented young women known as “aggressives,” or “AGs,” who attend a Friday night party at the Lab nightclub in Brooklyn. Aided by opinionated photographs, the story depicted AGs as territorial butches who emulate negative, misogynistic elements of male hip-hop culture as they prowl the nightclub, and life generally, in search of femmes to dominate and control like property.
The portrayal outraged the young women and supporters, who connect through the girlzparty.com online hub. Some 75 people, led by the promoter, Madison, gathered at Club Remix on Apr 18 to protest an article that they said did not resemble their anticipated result. They expressed hurt and anger, and talked honestly about the issues facing young lesbians of color. They also challenged The Village Voice to publish a more responsible follow-up article. The writer, Chloe Hilliard, and her editor did not accept an invitation to the meeting.
That same day, convictions were obtained in the separate incident of four young lesbians of color accused of attacking a man who made advances toward them in the West Village last August. The seven women involved were all found guilty of second-degree gang assault and face up to 15 years in prison. Patreese Johnson, accused of stabbing the victim, Dwayne Buckle, was convicted of first-degree assault, and could receive a maximum of 25 years. The women argued they defended themselves against a homophobic figure who provoked them.
During the trial, the New York Post published the article, “Attack of the Killer Lesbians,” on Apr 12, and expressed obvious sympathy toward Buckle. Writer Laura Italiano described the women as “seven bloodthirsty young lesbians” who comprised a “seething sapphic septet from Newark, N.J.” Such vicious categorization should concern all women who care about the way media portray females who allege mistreatment, sexual or otherwise.