What is Feminism?
Feminism is a political movement, takes as its objective the challenging of what it sees as the oppression of women by men, and the widespread sexual and gender inequalities. (Inglis and Thorpe, 2012) It was developed out of the philosophy of the women’s movement or feminism (an awareness of women’s oppression and exploitation in society, at work and within the family, and conscious action by women and men to change this situation) (Mendoza, 2008).
Feminism believes that Gender is understood as socially constructed patterning of masculinity and femininity and of the relationships between men and women. (Lengermann and Niebruggs, 2007). It
concerns the political, social, cultural, and other forms of domination of women and their social relations by patriarchy, a system of thought and social relations that privileges and empowers men and creates relationships between the genders that disfranchise, disempower and devalue women’s experience. (Payne, 2005).
Main goal of feminism is to Change the world, not just to observe it. (Inglis and Thorpe, 2012)
History of Feminism
There three (3) waves of Feminism:
- First Wave Feminism
o Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797)
§ Women’s rights in the 1790s and protecting against conditions of unequal and unfair treatment of women by men. They fought for women suffrage.
- Second Wave Feminism (1960 – 1970)
o Resurgence of feminist forms of consciousness and action.
§ The personal is the political.
§ Importance of consciousness raising. Aim to show women how they were dominated by social processes and institutions which worked in the service of men.
o A more diverse and fragmented phenomenon. The society feel the influence of feminism socially and politically.
Feminist Social Work (Dominelli)
- Arose out of feminist social action being carried out by women working with women in their communities.
- Aim: Improve women’s well – being by linking their personal predicaments and often untold private sorrows with their social position and status in society.
- A form of social work practice that takes women’s experience of the world as the starting point of its analysis and by focusing on the links between a woman’s position in society and her individual predicament, responds to her specific needs, creates egalitarian relations in ‘client’ – worker interactions and addresses structural inequalities.
- Meeting women’s particular needs in a holistic manner and dealing with the complexities of their lives – including the numerous tensions and diverse forms of oppression impacting upon them.
- Reconceptualisation of feminist social work
o Division between public and private – Social workers intervene on behalf of the public arena in the private and need to examine how the private is made public. Violence that causes women to be isolate but through sharing of their experiences with other women can be affirming.
o Concepts of discourse ( looking at how language is used), deconstructing women’s positions and social relations to identify power relations can help women to gain confidence and understanding of their position.
o Valuing women’s capacities and skills empowers women.
o Focusing on connectedness with others, reciprocity, mutual help and experience, power and citizenship can build links and support.
o Creating an egalitarian process by which empowerment may be achieved.
o Loyalties to clients rather than agencies or systems can be supported by maintaining clients’ participation in practice.
1. Rojek, C., Peacock, G. & Collins, S. (1988) Social Work and Received Ideas. New York: Routledge
2. Saulnier, C. (1996). Feminist Theories and Social Work. New York : Haworth Press
3. Payne, M. (2005). Modern Social Work Theory. Hampshire : Macmillan
4. Inglis, D. & Thorpe, C. (2012). An Invitation to Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity Press
5. Mendoza, T. (2008) Social Welfare and Social Work. Quezon City: Central Book Supply
6. Dominelli, L. (2002) Feminist Social Work Theory and Practice. New York: Palgrave
7. Jeinainati, C. & Groves, Judy (2003) Intoducing Feminism. Cambridge: Totem Books
8. Mangubat, M. (2011) Human Behavior and Social Envionment: Social Change Theories, Social Work Board Review Notes. College of Social Work and Community Development, UP Diliman