"The Socially Induced Silence : " Feminist Ideology and the Construction of Battered Women's Shelters in the 1970s
Adams, Madison M.
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The construction of Battered Women's shelters with specific resources modeled around feminist ideology in the 1970s was critical in establishing wife abuse as a real social issue in American society. As society silenced throughout the 1960s, feminists had to work against gender and marital norms that kept women subordinate in the home as well as isolated within their abuse. Women were not only given little to no relief from law enforcement officers but were often made to seem crazy or hysterical when they reached out for help. Viewed with suspicion, family court systems, counseling systems, and Alcohol Anonymous groups further enforced the idea that the woman was at fault for the violence committed against her family. The Anti-Rape Movement in the 1960s provided the necessary ideology for uncovering the issue of wife abuse in American society, as feminists articulated that "violence is a particular form of domination based on social relationships of unequal power .... and violence is one mechanism for female social control." Creating a conversation about the many ways society blamed women for violent crimes committed against them, feminists also began to discuss marital rape and how the unequal power relationship in marriages could often result in non-consensual intercourse. Providing ideological as well as legal justification for rape crisis centers, anti-rape conventions, and self-defense classes, feminists "changed women's consciousness and redefined the parameters of what women would individually and collectively tolerate."