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Working With Women Times New Romans, 12pt, 1 page, separate with reference/s, American literature in the are of Social Work Explain the following questions

Working With Women Times New Romans, 12pt, 1 page, separate with reference/s, American literature in the are of Social Work
Explain the following questions

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Working With Women Times New Romans, 12pt, 1 page, separate with reference/s, American literature in the are of Social Work
Explain the following questions based on the reading below and other sources

How do you define the oppression of women? 
Apply the empowerment framework in working with Jean or other female clients?
What are the key issues to consider when working with women? Working With Women

Explain the following questions based on the reading below and other sources

· How do you define the oppression of women?

· How might you apply the empowerment framework in working with Jean or other female clients?

· What are the key issues to consider when working with women?

Case Study: Jean

Jean is a twenty-seven year old half Korean and half American Caucasian woman. She is married to Tom, an American Caucasian, and the mother of three children: Brent, age six; Sarah, age four; and Tommy, age two. She recently sought counseling from a crisis service for battered women. Jean is depressed and withdrawn. She has a very small frame and reports that she has lost ten pounds in the past month. This weight loss, coupled with her flat affect, makes her appear quite ill. She denies any suicidal ideation, although she says that she doesn’t know how she will continue to take care of her children and Tom’s sick mother.

Jean’s husband, Tom, is given to bouts of heavy drinking and questionable drug use. He has violent episodes in which he alternately verbally and physically abuses her. He likes to bring his friends home after a drinking binge and make her serve them breakfast. He verbally abuses her in their presence, adding to her humiliation. During these episodes he calls her sexual names and tells her he wants to send her back to Korea and keep the children here.

Jean and Tom met and married seven years ago when he was in the army and stationed in Korea. They moved to the United States and settled near his family. Jean wanted to come to the United States to escape a suffocating family in Korea and to find a better life. When they were first married, Tom was kind and loving. Although he liked to go drinking with his friends, he always came home at night, worked hard as a computer technician, and brought home his paycheck. The marriage was good after they had Brent. By the time Sarah was born, Tom was staying out later and later and coming home and passing out. At this time, his company had its first downsizing. Although Tom’s job was saved, several of his friends lost their jobs. Rumors circulate that another big layoff is coming. Jean knows Tom is scared that he will lose his job.

After Tommy was born, the marriage was marked by increasing arguments over money and Tom’s drinking and suspected drug involvement. Tom began some minor drug dealing to make extra money. He swears he doesn’t use anything himself.

Jean reports to the counselor that the verbal and physical abuse is escalating and she often can’t sleep because she lies awake with fear. Jean sleeps with Sarah on the nights when Tom is angry and drunk. Jean asks the counselor what she is doing wrong to make Tom behave this way toward her.

Jean has a high-school diploma but little work experience. Tom went to computer school using the funds from his Army G.I. Bill. Jean always wanted to go to college, but worked during the first year of their marriage so Tom could get his degree. The children came quickly and there was no time for her to go to school. Now, when she and Tom discuss it, he tells her she isn’t smart enough and it’s not his place to watch the children. Her place is at home. Tom’s mother is very sick and Jean makes daily visits to her mother-in-law’s home. She feels it is her duty to care for her husband’s mother. Tom’s family often criticizes her mothering and lets her know that they wanted Tom to marry a Caucasian American.

Jean feels very bad about herself, her mothering, and her place in the family. She blames herself for Tom’s drinking and possible drug involvement. She thinks she is causing him to abuse her. She has no family in this part of the country and feels that she doesn’t fit with the Korean community and isn’t really an American. She had one Korean friend whom she met at church, and with whom she discussed spiritual concerns. That friend recently moved away and Jean doesn’t feel comfortable discussing her beliefs with others. Therefore she has no one with whom to discuss her problems and feels culturally isolated. She feels completely dependent on Tom, who is getting more and more angry and drunk. In addition, he is missing so much time at work that his job is now in danger.

What Do We Mean by the Oppression of Women?

To be conscious of external oppressive forces is the beginning of a sense of empowerment. Bartky (1990) states, “feminist consciousness is a consciousness of victimization” (p. 15). This consciousness is a divided consciousness in two ways. First, it is an awareness of unjust treatment of women by the surrounding environment that enforces an often stifling and oppressive system of sex-role differentiation. Victimization is impartial, and occurs on a macro, societal level. The damage is done to each one of us personally and is felt at a familial and individual level. Understanding this sense of victimhood raises one’s level of consciousness, and, through this increased awareness, one can begin to release energy and begin a journey of personal growth. Second, women of different colors and classes are privileged in ways that are uneven.

Lacking a culture of our own, we adopt the culture of our men and therefore subscribe to a truncated definition of the self, which either conforms to cultural stereotyping or sets parts of us struggling against each other. This is true for Jean, who leads her life through rigid cultural and gender role stereotypes. Her (1) lack of education, (2) economic dependence, (3) cultural proscriptions, and (4) lack of cultural and social supports inhibit her from articulating and meeting her own needs.

Linnea GlenMaye (1998) describes three general conditions that all women share as a result of being subject to psychological and structural gender oppression: (1) profound alienation from the self, (2) the double-bind of either meeting one’s own needs or serving the needs of others, and (3) institutional and structural sexism (p. 31).

Feminization of Poverty

Closely tied to gender roles and economic status is a term that emerged in the national consciousness in the 1970s and remains true in the 2000s. The feminization of poverty posits that women are poor because of the effect of their traditional gender roles on their ability to accumulate economic resources. The traditional coverture (femme coverte or covered woman) common-law marriage contract reinforces patriarchal structure and is reinforced by many social and economic institutions. This preferred family form fosters the woman’s economic dependency in the family. If she is divorced, a teen mother, or over age sixty-five, she is likely to be living in poverty. Women earn less than men for the same work, their share of national income is less, and income is stratified by both ethnicity and gender with African American and Hispanic/Latina women at the bottom—women’s job status is lower than men’s. If married, they earn less than their husbands. If single and the head of a family, their family income is lower than that of comparable families headed by men (McBride Stetson, 1997, p. 333).

The 1980s and 1990s marked the end of the post-war expansion of the U.S. welfare state, which was based on the 1935 establishment of Social Security. All entitlement programs were retrenched or eliminated, and the role of the federal government in social welfare programs has decreased and continues to decline. This strategy, launched in the early 1980s, was designed to redistribute income upwards, shrink social welfare programs, cheapen the cost of labor, and weaken the political influence of popular movements (Abramowitz, 1996; pp. 349–350).

While business leaders and economists pushed to lower the cost of production, the market began to downsize corporations, export production to low-wage countries, and depress fair market wages of the working U.S. population. This trend, which penalizes working women of all races and income levels, continues and appears to be heating up. More and more companies are laying off minimum wage and middle-management personnel. The global economy allows products and services to be cheaply made in third world countries. Income is being distributed upward, with the middle and lower classes at, or near, poverty level. Job security is a luxury of the past.

Another social trend that greatly affects the lives of women in all economic strata is the myriad changes in the family structure. First, the marriage rate is declining, and the number of single mothers is on the rise. In addition, the divorce rate is rising, leaving an increasing number of divorced women to manage their homes and families—while reeling from the effects of a family breakup. They are then forced into a gender-segregated labor market where women are often in marginalized contingency jobs with little financial security.

Government policies are also to blame for the feminization of poverty. Insufficient alimony, child support, and nonenforcement of support orders along with small retraining allowances (those funds given to women when they divorce to allow for education and training) keep women from earning a living wage.

Many politicians and citizens refuse to recognize any policy issues in the plight of women and poverty and discrimination. They cite personal failures, cultural factors, ethnic characteristics, and failure to perform the traditional feminine roles as reasons women and their families are poor. The conservative approach argues that welfare encourages dependency. They believe that when the government provides support, it is rewarding laziness, family breakup, and illegitimate pregnancy. The underlying assumption is that the poor are morally deficient and choose welfare and the “easy life of government dependency” over good jobs, with good pay and childcare. Current welfare reform is attempting to restore the patriarchal family structure. This attempt, begun in the 1970s and 1980s and symbolized by the Republicans’ “Contract with America,” attempts to modify the marital, childbearing, childrearing, and work choices of AFCD mothers (Abramovitz, 1996, p. 355). It continued with the agenda of the FSA (Family Support Act) to shrink the federal government’s involvement with the welfare state.

We saw in 1994 both Clinton’s “Work and Responsibility Act,” which made welfare both transitional and temporary, and the Republicans’ “Contract with America,” which dropped all education and training programs while tightening time and monetary limits on workfare programs. By November 1995, the Department of Health and Human Services was granting states permission to experiment with time limits and workfare programs. There was no parallel incentive for businesses to hire, train, or provide childcare benefits to women who were trying to work their way off the welfare roles.

Researchers found that OBRA (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981) forced women to use soup kitchens, live in inadequate housing, and stay in unsafe, often violent relationships. Many women and their children were impoverished or forced to the brink of impoverishment (Congressional Budget Office, 1987). In addition, these changes in welfare and workfare were flooding the labor market with low-wage workers and depressing their wages by more than 10 percent. At times their wages were below the federal minimum wage (Congressional Budget Office, 1987; Mishel & Schmitt, 1995).

In addition, the Republicans, determined to hold onto rigid, patriarchal family structures, took aim at illegitimacy as a social problem, claiming that welfare and single mothers were our nation’s biggest social problem. Historically, single mothers were widowed (a socially acceptable category), but more recently single mothers have never been married. This poses a great threat to patriarchal structures. The subsequent welfare reforms effectively punished single mothers in at least three different ways: (1) The FAMILY CAP, or child exclusion act, denied AFDC to children born while their mothers are receiving aid and to unmarried teen mothers and their children; (2) If mothers refused to (or couldn’t) identify the child’s father, their benefits could be withheld; (3) States received extra federal funds for reducing their non-marital birth rates without increasing the number of abortions (McBride Stetson, 1997, pp. 363–364).

These government efforts are attempts to control poor women’s reproductive choices, and, when enforced as a condition of aid, they take advantage of women’s weak financial situation. They magnify the effects of sexism on an already disempowered population. Further, these punitive and coercive efforts fly in the face of statistics, which show that welfare mothers do not have more children than nonwelfare mothers and do not have more children in order to receive more money. In addition, most women on welfare receive benefits for an average of two years and do not remain as long-term cases (U.S. Dept. of Health, 1995).

To meet the needs of this population and combat the effects of racism and sexism on a micro level, positive outreach, parenting classes, job training, and adequate childcare arrangements must be provided. Businesses and workplaces need incentives to hire, train, and provide benefits for this population as they attempt to work their way off welfare and into a productive societal role.

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