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Volume :38 Issue : 147 2012      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Feminist Identities Among Kuwait University Female Students

Auther : Dr. Hend B. Al-Ma'seb

     Downing and Roush in 1985 proposed a five-stage model of feminist identity development (FID). These stages are Passive Acceptance, Revelation, Embeddedness-Emanation, Synthesis, and Active Commitment. This study investigated whether there are differences between the five stages of the FID model based on marital status, tribal affiliation, and colleges attended among Kuwaiti female students. A sample of 500 female students from Kuwait University participated in the study. The main findings of the study showed that Kuwaiti female students conveyed different perspectives at each stage. Their different perceptions are based on the colleges they attended at Kuwait University. The results showed there is a significant relationship between the college they attended and two of the feminist identity stages (Passive Acceptance, Synthesis). Difference in perception is also based on the women's marital status. The results also showed a significant relationship between marital status and two of the feminist identity stages (Revelation, Embeddedness-Emanation). Difference in the women's perceptions is also based on their tribal affiliation. The results also showed a significant relationship between tribal affiliation and four of the feminist identity stages (Revelation, Embeddedness-Emanation, Synthesis, Active Commitment). The current study is the first empirical study that addresses the five stages of feminist identity among Kuwaiti female students.
     Feminism, by definition, is a theory which asserts that men and women should be equal politically, economically, and socially. Feminism is an important subject in the social sciences in general and the field of Social Work, in particular. Feminism was brought into the field of Social Work long time ago (Lehmann  Coady, 2001). It is important for social workers to understand the feminist identity so they can help their clients. However, a number of social workers have been reluctant to accept feminist theory (Dankoski et al., 1998; Lehmann  Coady, 2001).
     The Dictionary of Social Work defines feminist therapy as follows:
A psychosocial treatment orientation in which the professional (usually a woman) helps the client (usually a woman) in individual or group settings overcome the psychological and social problems largely encountered as a result of gender discrimination and gender role stereotyping. Feminist therapists help clients maximize potential, especially through raising their consciousness, eliminating gender stereotyping, and helping them become aware of the commonalities shared by all women. (Barker, 2003, p. 161).
According to (Tetreault and Al-Mughni,1995, p. 143), Kuwaiti women were ``entitled to participate as voters and as candidates in the administrations of local cooperative stores, although they still [could not] vote for parliament members.'' This continued to be true until May 2005, when women in Kuwait were given the political right to vote and to run for office in the parliament, which is regarded as a tremendous step forward in the women's movement in Kuwait. However, in Kuwait as in many Arab countries, women continue to suffer from gender discrimination (Alessa, 2009). For example, they do not have the freedom to control their own lives (AlMaseb  Julia, 2007).
     Numerous scholars have studied feminist identities in the West. Unfortunately, in Kuwait there are only a few studies that address this subject. Therefore, it is important to study the stages of feminist identity among Kuwiti females especially with all of the political and social challenges and changes that Arab countries are facing right now. Social workers in Kuwait need to understand the identities of their clients so they can work with them. This study will explore a new area in the field of social work in Kuwait, which is the stages of feminist identity.

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