Domestic Violence and Traditional Feminist Philosophy and Beliefs
Throughout the country a majority of domestic violence programs are based off the traditional feminist philosophy and beliefs. The feminist approach is defined as an approach that aims to understand gender inequality(source). The approach examines women’s and men’s social roles, experiences, interests, chores, and politics with a goal to empower the oppressed (source). Although this belief is meant to be a positive movement for all women and fight against domestic violence it is not completely ethical to just use that approach at an agency. A client’s culture may be a potent factor preventing a victim from leaving an abusive relationship. Thus, cultural competency is an important component of social work. A culturally competent social worker is non-judgmental, respectful, and helps meet their client to the client’s desired goals. Social workers who are biased or push a feminist approach on clients of different cultures who are unfamiliar of these beliefs may stop seeking help. Social Workers working at Domestic Violence agencies need to adapt more than one philosophy when working with other cultures to prevent the client from seeking help and because can be unethical.
The feminist belief does not fit all cultures and it not ethical to put other beliefs upon other cultures. For an example Hispanics embrace cultural values that often differ from those of White Americans. Within the traditional Hispanic culture, sex roles are clearly written. Men are expected to be cold, intellectual, strong, and authoritarian, while women are expected to be sentimental, gentle, intuitive, impulsive, docile, submissive, dependent, and timid. These attributes are encouraged early in the socialization process(source).
In the hispanic culture matisco is a concept adapted by the community. Machismo literally means maleness and stipulates men are superior and are to be treated as authority figures. Culturally, it means that the man is the provider and the one responsible for the welfare of the home and the family. Professionals working with a feminist approach may see women of a different culture as oppressed while the women of another cultural may see the feminist approach as way of disrespecting or dishonoring their culture and or family (source).
Culturally competent social work practice is grounded in the ethics and values of the social work profession. In order for social workers to be ethical they must recognize and appreciate the importance of being aware of one’s own cultural identity. Social workers also need to seek to understand the values, beliefs, and traditions of clients and incorporate this knowledge to their practice.
In domestic violence cases it is especially important to remember the role of culture in women’s perceptions of men’s and women’s roles in a marriage. The overall goal of the american cultural script for battered women is to leave and to stay away from their abuser. The script for the legal system is the same. In many cultures, however, “a woman could not reasonably be expected to divorce because of religious, cultural or legal constraints, or because evidence indicates that her husband would not recognize a divorce or separation as ending the relationship, and so she stays.
Here is an example of a scenario that occurs often. An Immigrant women is taken to the hospital. The woman has a black eye and a contusion on her back from her husband. The hospital calls the domestic violence crisis worker to explain services to the victim and her rights. If the domestic violence crisis worker continues in a feminist approach she may not be able to effectively help the immigrant women. The immigrant victim may not want to report their abuser because of a need to preserve their family’s image and reputation. Many immigrant women would rather endure violence than risk shaming their families. An Immigrant women may also fear speaking to the police about the incident due to fear that they are same organizations as the Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). She may share limited information with the domestic violence crisis worker and not request any services from the domestic violence agency. A social work professional who does not honor the NASW ethics may get frustrated at the victim for not taking the help the social worker was trying to provide.
Feminism is a personal belief and value. I would consider myself a feminist but I am aware that it is my personal value and I would not manipulate this belief on to another person. Imposing my values on clients would exert direct influence over their beliefs, feelings, judgments, attitudes and behaviors. I am aware of my own beliefs which allows me to check my own personal views at door and become objective. Fortunately my personal views align heavy with the The National Association of Social Workers values. Having a feminist approach in domestic violence definitely aligns with the social work value social justice and the feminist approach allows social workers to challenge social injustice by creating social change in gender inequality. The part can be difficult is assuming that the social worker and the client both have the same definition of social justice, which is why it is important for the client to take the lead regardless of any agency philosophy. Dignity and worth of the person is another value of social work, this value reminds us that it is our responsibility to enhance clients opportunity to change within their own needs, even if that means not leaving the abuser or pressing charges. The value Importance of human relationships states that we understand the clients relationships with others are important and we should strengthen relationships among people to promote the wellbeing of individuals, families, and social groups. When domestic violence professionals work with women who have been abused by their intimate partner the feminist philosophy could impose their views for clients to leave their partner or press charges. Professionals who are not culturally competent may not understand the importance that family places in their culture and may not support the client’s decision.