MSNBC has an article up called 2 Women Shot; Reportedly in Love Triangle. Janet Martinez, 22, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in East New York. Her ex-boyfriend also shot her current girlfriend after chasing her through five lanes of traffic and she is now in critical condition. Martinez also had an order of protection against her ex-boyfriend who supposedly was “deeply jealous over the affair between the two women.”
The article calls this incidence of violence “a bisexual love triangle gone wrong.” Doing so is problematic in so many ways. It sensationalizes the violence into a soap-opera type of drama and makes it seem as a private matter that isn’t worth intervening in, because you know it’s just a love triangle that got too complicated. It’s none of our business what happened, it just concerns the people involved. Referring to it as a love triangle gone wrong privatizes the violence and gives the general perception that it was an issue between three people romantically involved with each other in some way or another.
Another problem with the rhetoric is that the mere presence of the word “love” occludes the true nature of the crime. No, it wasn’t done in the name of love or because love was lost. It was done as an act to reassert power and control. Power and control over queer persons to further legitimize heterosexuality and heteronormativity; and power and control over women who dare to leave their partners and get orders of protection against them. Love is not in the picture at all. Overall, calling it a love triangle shifts the attention away from the bigger picture of homophobia, misogyny and relationship violence. It further shifts accountability away from the greater population including social institutions that are supposed to provide support and services for victims and to help them pursue justice.
This bourgeoisie narrative also tames the violence so that it is more acceptably marketable to the public. It eclipses critical aspects that define the crime: 1. that it was a hate-crime against the queer community and 2. that it qualifies as relationship violence as well. Martinez got an order of protection against her ex-boyfriend, and he ended up killing her and critically injuring her partner. Why tame the violence? Gender-based violence and various forms of hate crimes against the LGBTQ community occur more frequently than people know or think but it never gets reported with the truth and thoroughness that it deserves.
Failing to dig deeper and truly acknowledge and address the crime for what it really is: a hate-crime against the LGBTQ community and relationship violence and instead trivializing it as a “bisexual love triangle gone wrong” makes it seem like gender/sexuality based violence and relationship violence is absolutely fine. Well, it’s not.