explination of feminist perspective

Tue, 25 Mar 1997 17:21:27 -0500

Robert Parks asked me to explain what I meant by a feminist psychological
perspective. As you can imagine it is pretty difficult to explain such a
complex idea in the space of a sound byte; so I will attempt to briefly
explain it. I hope I can cover most of the bases without going on all day
long. The info I am presenting comes from Worell, J. & Remer, P. (1992).
and Sons: New York.
The principles of the empowerment feminist therapy model are as follows:
I. The Personal Is Political:
Sex role stereotyping, institutionalized sexism, and oppression limit the
potential of women and other oppressed groups. The individual cannot be
separated from her/his environment. The primary source of a client's
problems are social and political not intra psychic and personal. Pathology
is often reframed as a logical result of living in an oppressive society in
which insidious traumas and major traumas are experienced. For example,
depression in women is often seen as a normal result of living in our
oppressive, patriarchal society in which women's characteristics are
devalued and pathologized. The realization that a woman is not crazy is seen
as empowering and a step toward the healing process. Social change is a
major goal of feminist therapy, as the individual cannot be separated from
her environment. Social change can take place on a macro or micro level.

II. Egalitarian Relationships:
Interpersonal relationships should be as equal as possible. This tenant
holds true in the therapeutic relationship (between client and counselor).
Self-disclosure and Self-involving responses are valued because they allow
the woman to know that she is not alone or abnormal in her experiences.
Identification of strengths are as important as exploration as problems.
Most feminist therapists believe that in order for women to attain equal
power in their relationships with men, women must be economically
autonomous. Assertiveness is also valued and so is the anger expressed by
women who have realized how their problems are related to being a part of a
patriarchal society.

III. Valuing the Female Perspective:
Re-evaluation of stereotyping female traits, taught to women and girls
through sex-role socialization, are affirmed as important and valuable human
traits in both women and men. Often women are caught in a double bind. For
example, society encourages women to be nurturing and supportive of their
family members, often to the detriment of a woman's goals. But when women
make sacrifices they are often criticized for being "emeshed" with their
families, "dependent" on others (both financially and emotionally). Women
are often labled "co-dependent" for exhibiting the traits taught to them
during their sex-role socialization. Women are encouraged to define
themselves based on their own experiences. Women are encouraged to trust
their feelings. In examining sex-role socialization women are able to
identify the sources of some of their reactions in relationships and while
they learn to value sterotypically female traits, they are empowered to
acquire the desirable roles they have been taught to suppress (e.g.,
sterotypically male traits). In others words, women are invited to construe
the possiblities of acting in stereotyping male roles (being assertive)
while learning to value those attributes which have been devalued by larger
society (nurturing and interdependent relationships with other).

Sorry this message is so long, I know you all have a life; I hope reading
this didn't take up too much of it. Also, I am pretty new to this model
(this is my way of asking you not to ask all kinds of impossible questions).
Thanks for your time.

Kaia Calbeck