Feminist Practice: Who I am or What I do?
This article delves into a relatively neglected aspect of feminist, or anti-oppressive practice, namely that of practitioners’ experiences of this work, and specifically, their personal and professional identifications with feminism. It explores the question: is feminism, in the context of feminist practice, something one does, a professional “persona” adopted at particular times and for particular purposes at work, or something one is, transcending—or linking—the personal and professional realms? Drawing upon a qualitative, exploratory study, this article investigates understandings of, and identifications with, feminism within the context of an area of practice, namely domestic violence intervention, which is explicitly feminist. It focuses on the relationship of the research participants, practitioners in this field, to feminism in terms of their identification with feminist principles. Paying attention to these issues has implications for feminist and other anti-oppressive ways of working, particularly where these are adopted by organisations as the required model of practice. The broader question, that of whether one needs to—or “should”—be (or identify as) feminist in order to engage in feminist practice, while beyond the scope of the current study, is critical, both for feminist theorising in general and in relation to specific concerns such as professional education, development, and supervision.
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