Gender and Culture
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Gender and Culture
My family legacy and position regarding gender, according to the transitional gender positions continuum, is gender-aware. I had working class parents. My mother worked full time as an insurance broker and a minister, and my father was a police officer. I interacted with my father often and he would take me to school and pick me up. The jobs that my parents had contributed to them being aware of each other’s roles and helping each other. Unlike in a traditional family, I spent more time with my father because his job allowed him more time, than I did with my mother, who seemed to be busy most of the time. Gender aware seeks to strengthen the experiences of imbalances of gender. Feminism has led to increased awareness of gender differences and the need for equality of the genders (Knudson-Martin, 2002). Some seemingly trivial issues such as who opens and controls conversations and who makes decisions such as deciding on the next session of therapy, offer clues on a couple’s gender awareness.
People’s upbringing determines their gender awareness or lack thereof. The way that the parents behave towards each other will determine the type of views that the children will have concerning gender roles. Both genders benefit more from egalitarian relationships. However, adhering to traditional gender roles has negative consequences for the man and woman in a relationship. The people involved in such a relationship tend to form their relationship based on their power differentials (Hecker & Wetchler, 2003). A man who expects his wife to stay at home and raise the children will influence his children’s thoughts into believing that women are expected to maintain such traditional roles. On the other hand, egalitarian families will influence their children into having an open mind concerning the role of each person in the family. The male children will adopt a mentality that it is okay for them to participate in chores, and the female children will learn that it is okay to have dreams and ambitions regarding their professional lives.
My family background has made me examine some issues relating to a couple’s relationship problems more closely. I seek to understand a couple better when I realize that there is a clear gender imbalance in the relationship. Before engaging in family therapy, I had taken negotiations between couples for granted. I assumed that couples used to consult each other on matters relating to their families. However, learning more about gender awareness has changed my perspective on relationships. With this knowledge, I realize that equality among the genders is paramount to some partners, while others do not even consider it. Those who consider equality to be a minor thing are less likely to consult their partners on pertinent issues or to negotiate with them on anything (Hecker & Wetchler, 2003).
Understanding the fact that every person lives in a number of subcultures and making an effort to understand these subsystems is an essential step in dealing with multiculturalism. The difficulty of multiculturalism lies in the fact that there are many minority cultures and it is not possible to identify and fulfill all the needs of these cultures. People from different minority cultures face certain levels of discrimination. Family therapists can be prone to this when they apply the culture of the majority to people who do not belong to the majority cultures. Another personal difficulty is learning how to control my bias and assumptions towards other cultures since this often leads to the application of stereotypical values. It is easy for a person to believe that she understands what other people are like because she has an idea about people in that culture.
These problems can be overcome by applying critical counseling skills, which involve carefully listening, and understanding people, and treating each case individually. The counselor should at the same time apply professional knowledge and not just depend on the information received from the family members. I will be able to address the meta-framework of multiculturalism once I have synthesized all the information I need, and once I involve the family as active collaborators and not just participants (Yarhouse & Sells, 2008). Collaboration involves working with the clients and alongside them so that the therapist can understand them better. The therapists realize and understand the importance of the clients’ knowledge (Gehart, 2009).
Gehart, D. (2009). Mastering competencies in family therapy: A practical approach to theories and clinical case documentation. New York, NY: Cengage Learning
Hecker, L. L., & Wetchler, L. J. (2003). An introduction to marriage and family therapy. Philadelphia, PA: Haworth Clinical Practice Press
Knudson-Martin, C. (2002). Feminism in MFT: Where has it led us? Family Therapy Magazine
Yarhouse, A. M., & Sells, N. J. (2008). Family therapies: A comprehensive Christian appraisal. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press