Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Feminist"

Posted on the PreventConnect Listserv:
Q. You have stated that programs and campaigns involving men should be based on feminist principles. In a society that increasingly sees feminism as an 'F-word', how do you make these principles palatable for general consumption?

On this issue, I wrote the following in my report on violence prevention education in schools, now available here:
http://www.xyonline.net/content/respectful-relationships-education-violence-prevention-and-respectful-relationships-educatio

"Articulating an explicitly feminist understanding may be problematic among some audiences and stakeholders, as there is considerable ignorance of, and sometimes hostility to, feminism in the community. While the inclusion of feminist content on gender inequality and sexism is widely seen as necessary for effective programs, there is evidence of resistance among teachers and schools (and students themselves) to feminist approaches. As a result, some programs adopt gender-neutral content and offer individualistic frameworks that neglect social and structural factors sanctioning boys' and men's violence. However, a feminist conceptual framework is essential both to reflect scholarship on violence in relationships and families and to anchor the political commitments of the program."

Best wishes,

michael flood.

I totally agree - embracing the feminist framework is the way that prevention works. Feminism is best practice. But the question asked how. How do we explicitly operate in best practice feminist contexts without losing the participation of those we're trying to reach. How do we challenge the perceptions of feminism, integrate the import of feminist theory and contextualization into prevention education, and not shut down the people who most need to hear the messages (particularly when those are most likely the ones opposed to feminism and clinging to patriarchal privilege)? It's scary to leave the only structure you've know and been socialized to and step into a new world view. How do we move people along as gently and with as much love as possible, without hesitation?

Update: awesome thoughts from another commenter on the list
How do we develop sexual abuse prevention programs that do not
perpetuate the backlash against feminism, women? And why not question, why
is it that feminist principles have to do the work of making it palatable
while being attacked for being feminist? - Danica Anderson

2 comments:

Criss L. Cox said...

Do we have to call it "feminism"? Can we teach the principles without labeling them? Kind of trick them into listening...

DancingGrapes said...

This is definitely the question - and I would probably make much more headway and endear myself more easily to the powers that be if I could go along with just slipping in the lessons. For some reason that really doesn't sit well for me. I feel like it's disrespectful to build upon works without attributing the movement that made that possible.

It bugs the hell out of me when people are all "something absolutely based on and thanks to the feminist movement" but anti-feminist. I'm still really stuck on being a representative of what feminism looks like and using the term to correspond with the theory.

Personal struggle in progress :)