Social Work Is a Field Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

While he supported me in my endeavors, he raised many questions, >Why do you want to enter social work? How do you think you are going to provide for your family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to?" Deferring to socialization pressures that still impel them to fulfill the "breadwinner" role and avoid feminine characteristics, they may segregate themselves from women in the profession, selecting specialties or positions that society deems as more appropriate for men (Williams, 1995). They too may emphasize the masculine aspects of their jobs to "reduce the dissonance between their professional and gender identities" and to justify their career choices (Christie, 1998, p. 506). Thereby, male social workers adhere more closely to the social definition of masculinity" (Britton, J. & Stoller M., 1998).

The young people who are trying to enter into a social work profession "hope to advance research and social work services for men to circumvent the social and internal barriers to their full involvement with families and equal partnerships with their spouses. Our views seek to foster a shift in the social construction of gender roles and expectations, a shift toward gender equity" (Britton, J. & Stoller M., 1998).

Pease thinks that "the main theoretical framework that informs work with men in the human services is sex role theory. The sex role approach to masculinity utilizes the theoretical ideas underlying liberal feminism, wherein women's disadvantages are said to result from stereotyped customary expectations, internalized by both men and women.[...]

One of the major limitations of sex role theory is that it under-emphasizes the economic and political power that men exercise over women. Male and female roles are seen to be equal, thus enabling men and women to engage in a common cause against sex role oppression." (Pease, B., 2001).

But this theory is skipping the most important thing that continues to make the difference between men and women - social power fight. This is what the men engaged in social work do not have and do not want comparing to the other men, a fact that the many people reprove. "What is consistently missing in sex role theory is recognition of the extent to which men's gender identities are based upon a struggle for social power. Men clearly suffer from adhering to dominant forms of masculinity. Many men are now concluding that the social and political gains of having power over women do not outweigh the physical, social and psychological health costs incurred (Newman 1997, p. 137). Most men, however, approve and support the overall system, in spite of the burdens and they simply want more benefits and lesser burdens (Ball 1996, p. 71). There is no evidence that liberating men from the traditional male sex role will lead to men relinquishing their privilege and social power. And yet this is where traditional approaches to understanding and working with men in social work are often heading" (Pease, B., 2001).

Working with men in social services is not always so simple, but there is always a way to approach to this problem. "To develop a critical framework for practice with men, we have to adequately conceptualized the issues facing men. These are confusing and unsettling times for many men. To make sense of this confusion it is important to understand mens' experiences within the context of the patriarchal structures in society and their relationship to class, race and gender regimes. Men and women who work with men in social work should have an analysis of the social construction of masculinities and they need to understand how the forces that construct dominant masculinities embed men and women in relations of dominance and subordination that limit the potential for them to be in partnership with each other" (Pease, B., 2001).

The hard time many men have is due, partly, to their own fault. They know they need a change in the gender equality and they want it, but they refuse to reconsider some important aspects. "Men often want things to change but they do not want to relinquish their power. A profeminist approach to working with men challenges the distribution of power in families and encourages men to rethink their power. This means, as Connell has suggested, disrupting men's settled ways of thinking (1987, p. xii). Many of the beliefs men hold are the cause of the troubles in their lives. Thus, the starting point for work with men is to assess their beliefs. What beliefs does the man hold about masculinity? What are the sources of these beliefs? How are these beliefs associated with the difficulties the man is experiencing? What are the potential harmful effects of these beliefs? (Allen & Gordon 1990, p. 138)" (Pease, B., 2001).

But there are men who succeeded in social work profession. How did they do it? This is a proof that men can learn to deal with social issues, too and they can do it very well. "In light of the following, is it possible for men to engage in practices that serve womens' interests? It is generally agreed that men cannot be feminists because we do not have women's experience (Reinharz 1992, pp. 14-15). However, can men engage in profeminist practice if they can fulfil certain conditions? Or are we locked into an ontological position within patriarchy because of our location in social structure?

I believe that men can change in the direction of feminism. Men have choices as to whether they accept patriarchy or work collectively against it. Before men can organise collectively, though, they must transform their subjectivities and practices. I believe that there are spaces in patriarchy for men to appreciate the possibilities of being different and being against sexism and against patriarchy' (Hearn 1992, p. 19). Although we cannot individually or as a group escape our material position in patriarchy, I believe that we can change our ideological and discursive position" (Pease, B., 2001).

Men, with their different views and experience in social work, can also bring improvements into this field. A positive improvement to social work from men is reestablishing the trust in women and children they work with through their own actions, taking "an active opposition on their part to all forms of men's violence" (Christie, A., 2001). The author, from his own experiences, is trying to excuse women who do not agree with men as a part of this profession: "Many of the women - mothers of the children - with whom I worked, told me that they were not used to men who did child care, or actively listened to them. Instead, most of the women were themselves survivors of men's sexual, physical or emotional violence. They had every reason to distrust me as a man, and to distrust me with their children, However, I believe that my statements of "outrage" at their violent treatment by other men, my declared opposition to such violence, and my re-framing of the abuse as being a consequence of men's violence, helped us to build a working and trusting social work relationship" (Christie, A., 2001).

The same author, Christie, A., is giving examples from his cases where men's contribution as social workers was a better choice for the people who needed a social worker or not. One example is that of a single abused mother, in rehabilitation for parenting her three children from Child Protection - "I asked how Jane felt about working with a male social worker and was able to build a good relationship with her, in which she felt able to talk about the abuse she had experienced. By re-framing her abuse as violence from a man, Jane began to reconsider her experiences. She began to recognize abuse in many of her past relationships and we began to look at ways in which she might develop relationships in the future. This work provided important information when considering whether the children had been neglected" (Christie, A., 2001).

Other example is that of a sexually abused boy, that, after being able to talk about what happened to him, renounced to take part in the social working sessions. Christie says, referring to this case, that "my gender was a key issue in my work," having to work first on getting the trust from the child as a person, not as a man, and after that helping him to express his feelings about his abuse. On the other part, the author believes that, in these cases, children do not have to be forced to believe in the social worker as a man, even if gender is the only thing that is associating them with the abusers.

For my interview, I prepared my questions after reading the literature for this subject, extracting the ideas I found more interesting and after that I formulated the questions, keeping in mind that I will have, most probably, to modify them during the interview or to complete them with some new ideas. That is why I formulated them in a general manner, being…

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