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This essay explores the different ways in which oppression of sexism and discrimination is manifested within the case study of Mel. This case study response will discuss how the people involved might be disempowered, oppressed, the social constructions associated and the strengths that are embedded in the case study. Which will be followed by a self-reflection of this case study, the seminar presentation and my understanding of social work in this course.
According to Thompson (2016), discrimination can be defined as an unequal treatment or an undermining behaviour against an individual that belongs to a minority group within the social structure. Oppression is also seen as a less favourable treatment of individuals, which is caused by an unjust exercise of power over individuals, hence the rights of these individuals are often ignored. This illustrates that oppression is the consequence of discrimination. In this case study there are two major oppressions that are manifested, which are sexism and abuse. Thompson (2016) cites Bullock’s and Trombley’s (2000) definition of sexism that it is a “… system of beliefs, attitudes, behaviour and institutions in which distinctions between people’s intrinsic human worth are made on the grounds of their biological sex and gender roles”. This definition clearly gives an insight into the fact that sexism functions within the personal (P), cultural (C) and structural (S) levels. The three levels of the PCS analysis helps understand the different ways in which the oppression of sexism and abuse is produced in Mel’s situation, such as within her family and church community.
The personal level of the PCS analysis helps give an insight that Mel certainly feels oppressed, and marginalized due to the gender inequality and the abuse she encounters. Mel is continuously been verbally abused by her husband, Craig, as she tries to find work. Craig has also been violently lashing out towards the family cat during disputes. The case study conveys that Craig holds a very stereotypical perspective on the basis of Mel’s gender. For example, Craig raged at Mel by emphasising the fact that her “job is to be a mother and a wife! Women cannot be trusted with work!” This statement itself makes Mel feel certainly oppressed and disempowered because her own husband has stable perceptions on the limited roles women play in society views and her in a low manner. As a consequence, this not only hurts but also disempowers Mel because her own husband whom she married does not believe that she has the potential and the capability to work in a workplace. Furthermore, Mel also attends Craig’s church that is perceived to be extremely ‘conservative and has strong ideas about women’s right in relation to men’s rights’. Which has been enforced through bible verses in the church newsletter, such as “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. Ephesians 5: 22-23”. Therefore, Mel feels that her own religious values is being challenged because she struggles to cope with the way her husband treats her. Hence, she feels isolated and vulnerable because there is no one within that church community that she can confide in about her situation at home. Moreover, this is relevant because it emphasises that Mel feels oppressed due to the discrimination against her gender, hence why she may feel marginalized because she is not able to have the same rights, opportunities and privileges as men. Conversely, this significantly illustrates that the oppression of sexism and abuse is strongly manifested by the patriarchal ideology. However, Thompson (2016) gives an insight into the different ways men could be negatively impacted from sexism. Therefore, this is relevant because it helps understand that Craig may certainly feel oppressed and pressured to meet the social expectations. For example, he is a father and a husband, and is socialised into an environment where the men is provider of the family and meets the needs of the family. This alludes that he may also feel disempowered because not only does he need to financially assist his own family but also support and aid his mother financially. Therefore, Craig may feel overwhelmed and stressed and as a consequence this may might have led him to let out his frustrations and anger on his wife and family. This is relevant because there are different aspects of an individual which influences their attitude and behaviour. Furthermore, daughter’s is likely to be greatly affected by exposure to the abuse within the family and negative relationship. According to Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model gives an insight into the fact that an individual’s development is influenced by their interaction within the environment. Therefore, the family dysfunction and her relationship within this environment that she interacts may affect her performance in school, her development and other aspects of her life.
The cultural and structural level of the PCS analysis helps identify the social construction of sexism and patriarchy is associated within Mel’s situation. Looking from a cultural level perspective gives an insight into the different ways of how religion has socially constructed individuals and the church community. Murphy and Dillon (1998) gives a clear explanation of the importance of understanding the social context of an individual and the community, such as the social relationship, institutions and religious forces. For instance, referring back to the bible verse, Ephesians 5: 22-23 from the church newsletter strongly reinforces that religious values and practices has been socialised into determining the social norms of what is right and wrong. Mel describes Craig’s church as very ‘conservative’ to women’s and men’s rights, which suggests that the congregation holds very traditional values and attitudes towards the role of women and men, especially towards married couples and families. This shared perspective is reinforced through the church newsletter which selectively references that wives should submit and conform to their husbands. Therefore, this belief system, and the way that the religious institution functions reinforces that the idea of patriarchy and sexism. Furthermore, in this case study the social expectations of the traditional gender roles are strongly reinforced by the construction of patriarchy and familial ideology. For instance, the men is perceived to be the breadwinner and the provider of the family, whereas the women, specifically wives and mothers are considered to nurture and take care of their children. This shared way of thinking of how a normal nuclear family should operate is significantly relevant to the way Craig views Mel. Hence, this perception can be supported when Mel is told that her job is to be a wife and a mother. However, this emphasizes that the oppression of sexism is socially constructed through the societal expectations of gender roles. Therefore, when one does not conform to their sex roles they are viewed as deviant and are stereotyped by society but in Mel’s case she is verbally abused.
A major strength that is embedded within this case study is that Mel has gained the confidence and the courage to voluntary approach a social worker for help. In the case study it emphasises that Mel has an awareness and an understanding that the familial relationship is not healthy and is greatly concerned about her daughter’s wellbeing. This is an important strength to recognize because Mel is also a mother, and her motivation to seek help is strongly driven by her daughter. Therefore, seeking help will not only assist but also help create a better lifestyle not just for her but her child too. Another strength is that Mel is an independent, strong-willed women, who aspires to pursue a career in art. This demonstrates that Mel has great potential, skills and knowledge as an individual. Also considering the length of their eight years of marriage portrays the significance of an enduring relationship in one’s life. Furthermore, another important strength to consider is that when Craig was requested by his mother to return back to New Zealand to support her, he sacrificed his way of life in Fiji and attended his mother’s needs to ensure that she well cared. Therefore, this conveys that Craig is a hard working individual and who will certainly provide for his family.
I personally found this case study really interesting because it helped me understand the different ways in which sexism could be played out within families and society. Whilst responding to this case study it helped me recognize that very often during an issue of sexism, women are perceived to be the victim of male domination but never once growing up or through on media I ever heard or seen men being marginalised and oppressed due to sexism. This truly was an eye opener for me especially

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