Comparative Perspectives on Gender Violence: Lessons From Efforts Worldwide, edited by R. Goel and L. Goodmark, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0-19-934657-8, 2015, 225 pages, $49.95.
This collection of essays evidences an impressive body of feminist thought and discourse. Collectively, the editors and contributors serve to bring attention to the domination of “American” perspectives on gender violence, including its etiology and widely-accepted interventions and methods of prevention. The book exposes the pervasive ideologies of misogyny and patriarchy evident in legal discourse on gender violence, including the frequent unwillingness or inability of legal systems worldwide to adequately address the issues.
Beyond exposing flaws in legal mechanisms, the book serves to identify structural root causes of, and contributions to, gender-based violence. The editors also engage in discussion regarding tools and techniques to “work around” the omnipresent barrier of legal resistance and blindness, which is aided by deeply-ingrained cultural norms and traditional views of gender roles. The authors urge engagement with societal structures and formal and informal institutions through open discourse, advocacy, and education.
While it is likely excessively advanced for baccalaureate-level students, this volume should be a core component of graduate-level social work education. It opens a dialogue on subjects often neglected in the field and in the classroom. The editors offer a well-reasoned critique of the ethnocentrism of “American” intervention and how it is “exported” into global contexts, and question the efficacy of those models in the amelioration of the issue of gender-based violence. Additionally, they utilize a strengths-based view of cross-cultural work to eradicate this class of violence, focusing on effective models of intervention and how they may be “imported” into the United States.
From a practical standpoint, our increasingly diverse communities bring with them a need for social workers with more awareness of global perspectives and knowledge of varying cultural contexts within which social problems may exist. This text would be a valuable resource for practicing social workers, particularly those with a multicultural client base or those who work with the ever-increasing refugee populations. In the classroom, it would provoke crucial discussion on feminist theory and application to practice, international social work and cultural humility, and policy practice. This volume provides a rich array of perspectives on a global social problem and presents them in a way that is relatable to students and professionals in the field alike.
Reviewed by Jennifer L. Wood, Ph.D., LMSW, MSSW, Program Director, Assistant Professor of Social Work, West Texas A&M University.