Transforming the Culture of Advocacy for Social and Economic Justice

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This paper promotes the importance of the battered women's movement's work in coalition with other movements and systems. It argues that a 'culture of advocacy' characterized by an "us vs. them" frame of mind, combined with hierarchical organizational structures, may preclude necessary collaboration to end violence against women. The paper describes deep ecology (a philosophy of interconnectedness) and its relevance to how advocates approach system and policy work. Advocates will find this paper helpful to spur dialogue and action on how working on one's self and working internally is interconnected to work with/on systems.

Sections include:

  • The Culture of Advocacy in the Contemporary Battered Women's Movement - Includes a brief history of the movement's evolution, the development of organizations and agencies, and challenges to working in coalition.
  • Critique of the Culture of Advocacy - Discusses barriers caused by fragmentation of social justice movements, "us" versus "them" issues, and considerations regarding interlocking systems of oppression.
  • Transforming the Culture of Battered Women's Movement Advocacy - Suggests a framework for collaborative advocacy, noting that self-transformation is critical for creating social change.

Excerpt: "The strengths of the movement have been its commitment to address multiple oppressions, feminist practices of grassroots organizing and egalitarianism. The barriers stem from a romance with identity politics and an attachment to false constructs such as 'advocates' versus 'the system' and 'us' versus 'them.' The ability to work in coalition with other movements and systems, such as anti-poverty groups and welfare systems, is an important indicaor of whether a movement is on the path to acheiving social and economic justice. To acheive these ends it is necessary for battered women's advocates and other practitioners working with victims of domestic violence to develop skills to address the 'multiple and interlocking systems of oppression' and stand in solidarity with a diversity of oppressed persons, advocates, perpetrators and systems."