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Knowing What We Know

Knowing What We Know

Gail Garfield
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Knowing What We Know
    Book Description:

    In recent years there has been an attempt by activists, service providers, and feminists to think about violence against women in more inclusive ways. InKnowing What We Know, activist and sociologist Gail Garfield argues that this effort has not gone far enough and that in order to understand violence, we must take the lived experiences of African American women seriously. Doing so, she cautions, goes far beyond simply adding voices of black women to existing academic and activist discourses, but rather, requires a radical shift in our knowledge of these women's lives and the rhetoric used to describe them.Bringing together a series of life-history interviews with nine women, this unique study urges a departure from established approaches that position women as victims of exclusively male violence. Instead, Garfield explores what happens when women's ability to make decisions and act upon those choices comes into conflict with cultural and social constraints. Chapters explore how women experience racialized or class-based violence, how these forms of violence are related to gendered violence, and what these violations mean to a woman's sense of identity. By showing how women maintain, sustain, and in some instances regain their sense of human worth as a result of their experiences of violation, Garfield complicates the existing dialogue on violence against women in new and important ways.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-3759-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xxii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-41)

    For more than twenty years, anti-violence advocates shaped the discourse on violence against women. Rooted in the contemporary women’s movement, their perspectives and activism influenced our understanding of both the cause and the nature of violence against women. Whether they either argued that violence against women stems from the workings of patriarchy or offered a more structural explanation for the role that violence plays in women’s subordination and oppression, the advocates’ seemingly different ideological and political stances ultimately ended up in the same place: Fingers were pointed at what men do as a way of imposing their will on women’s...

  6. Chapter 1 Becoming
    (pp. 42-82)

    As children, the women started their particular journey of becoming cultural and social beings during the 1940s. In this decade, their parents migrated from the South to various parts of the Northeast, Midwest, and Southwest relocating with other family members when they were either young single adults or married couples. Their parents were working men and women of various skills, talents, and education; all were seeking a better way of life.

    In seeking that life, the families attempted to lay a foundation that would provide their daughters with the necessary knowledge and skills that would enable them to engage the...

  7. Chapter 2 Lessons to Learn
    (pp. 83-114)

    Between 1957 and 1966, all the women received high school diplomas. To appreciate this achievement, it is important to look at their educational journey. They attended public schools during a period of political unrest and instability that challenged the very legitimacy of America’s cultural and social institutions. Desegregation of public education stood at the forefront of the call for change. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its landmark decision in the case ofOliver Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, which rendered racial segregation in public education unconstitutional. But this legal...

  8. Chapter 3 The Worlds of Men
    (pp. 115-149)

    By the mid-1960s, all the women had left childhood behind and were embarking upon a new life. By stepping into a new role—that of an adult—they searched for what this new life and identity would reveal. Their experiences immediately drew them into the political worlds of men. These worlds reflected the privilege and prominence of men’s thoughts, practices, and behaviors. In these worlds, the women found that the power between black and white men and the ways it was culturally and socially reproduced were not equivalent. Yet both worlds exerted dominance over their lives. It was not an...

  9. Chapter 4 The Worlds of Women
    (pp. 150-205)

    As the 1970s approached, the women were no longer in search of an adult identity. However, as they settled into particular patterns of life, they were still searching: some were seeking to fulfill dreams; others were pursuing hopes; but all were looking to develop their human potential. The decade of the 1970s held possibilities. Women with diverse and sometimes divergent political agendas were stepping up organized efforts in their campaigns for social and cultural equality. Through their actions, women decided that the 1970s would be the “decade of the woman.”

    The critical question moving to the forefront of mainstream political...

  10. Chapter 5 She Works
    (pp. 206-243)

    As workers, the women were among the first generation of African Americans to seek job opportunities under federal affirmative action strategies that were designed to redress past patterns and practices of race and gender discrimination. As a result of black political protest, legal advocacy, and electoral pressure, civil rights legislation was passed by congress to ensure federal protections for equal access to society’s resources. In the area of employment, the federal government implemented policies and programs that increased as well as provided equal job opportunities for African Americans, in both the public and private sectors of the American economy. Those...

  11. Conclusion Knowing Violence and Violation
    (pp. 244-252)

    In returning to their past, I followed along as the women traveled uncertain paths. From their early journey through childhood to their lives as mature adults, I listened and watched as they recreated their life histories. In the telling of their stories, I heard what happened to them and could not help but notice what they thought and felt. But I also saw what they did as they engaged their cultural and social worlds. In the process of living, they walk with a sense of self-assuredness and purpose. But sometimes they stumbled over barriers that were in their way. Some...

  12. References
    (pp. 253-260)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 261-262)