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On the last track, we discussed the influence of the New Age, New Thought, Self-Help culture on encouraging the unveiling of repressed memories via intuition, imagination, and hearsay, or unfounded information.
On this track, we will examine the influence of the neo-feminist movement on the view of rape and sexual abuse.
As you know, the feminist movement has had a significant influence on today's culture. Much of this, especially in the early years of the movement, involved increased percentage of women in the work force. However, in recent years, the movement has become much more argumentative. Instead of demanding equality for both sexes, the neo-feminist movement proclaims the superiority of the female sex.
Ethics - 4 Influences of Neo-Feminist Movement
Influence #1 - The Movement's Transformation
In her book, Going Out of Our Minds, author and feminist Sonia Johnson writes, "We have not been warned that Daddy is our enemy, or Grandpa, or Uncle Steve, or brother Harvey. Like rape, despite rhetoric to the contrary, incest in some cultures is not only encouraged, it is insisted upon; not just condoned, but blessed. Like rape, incest is not accidental. It is an institution of patriarchy-like the church, like the law: absolutely necessary to maintaining male privilege and power."
Due to such literature, there has become an ingrained belief in some clients that all men are "out to get" women and that males and females are in fact enemies, not allies with the same goals in mind.
Influence #2 - Rape: A Tool of Male Dominance?
Clearly, because Steinem was such a prominent figure in the feminist movement, her very words and actions are taken seriously. In general, by the feminist or neo-feminist movements, instilling the idea of a male dominance conspiracy, many female clients may assume that they were raped or abused, but have repressed it. Although Gloria Steinem is not ethically responsible for her beliefs, the therapists that follow her teachings should be cautious of the hard-line they take and be aware of ethical dilemmas arising from such.
Influence #3 - The Effect of Authority Figures on the Public
Short Self Awareness Test
Obviously this is totally subjective but merely meant to raise your awareness of how you may subconsciously pass your beliefs onto a receptive client. In short, in your next session how can you remain conscious of your ability to possibly unintentionally instill male dominance beliefs in your sexually abused clients? Because of their already vulnerable state of mind, many clients will take an authority figure like those proponents of the feminist movement or their therapist's words as infallible.
As you are aware from a previous track, the NASW code of ethics, states "Social workers should base practice on recognized knowledge, including empirically based knowledge, relevant to social work and social work ethics." Obviously, the therapist's personal belief is not empirical knowledge and therefore should remain separate from the needs of his or her client.
Influence #4 - Sexism
Also, this preconceived idea that all men are of the mind to find a way to repress women through the use of rape or sexual abuse, puts the therapist into a position of looking for a cause that might not be there. As a result, he or she makes the possibility of confabulating memories even higher. This unduly influences the client's mind and again harms the client even more.
Ethics - 4-Point Male Dominance Self-Quiz
Point # 1. Regarding your marital status Are you divorced? On a scale of 0 to 10, what are your feelings towards the resolution of that relationship? If you are in a relationship, on a scale of 0 to 10, at what level do you feel dominated by your male partner? On a scale of 0 to 10, at what level do you have some personal baggage that you may be subconsciously carrying into your session with your female client who claims she has memories of being sexually abused by her father when she was two?
Point # 2. Regarding your status at work On a scale of 0 to 10, at what level are you resentful if the head of your agency is a male? Have you ever been passed over for a promotion or not hired because a man got the job? From 0 to 10, at what level do you basically feel that men are better, more professional, more knowledgeable, better qualified, and have more experience than a woman?
Point # 3. Regarding your personal value system If seeking medical attention do you get uncomfortable if the doctor is a woman? Rate from 0 to 10, at what level do you prefer that your doctor were a man?
Point # 4. For regarding female financial and professional success on a scale of 0 to 10 at what level are you surprised when you discover the doctor is a woman; or the head of a large corporation is a woman; or the clerk receptionist is a man?
I encourage you to share this exercise with your colleges perhaps during your next staff meeting. Clearly there are no right or wrong answers here. The goal of the exercise is to increase the therapist's self awareness regarding their attitudes toward male dominance; and to consider ethically how they may be subconsciously manipulating the memories of their clients who have experienced, or think they have experienced sexual abuse.
On this track, we discussed the influence that neo-feminism and the feminist movement may have on your clients recall of sexual abuse. In addition your personal sexist views were rated.
On the next track, we will examine the effect of false memory generation on innocent so-called perpetrators.
Ethics CEU QUESTION
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