Airing out the linens: Equipping practitioners for exploring discourse on gender-based violence in intimate relationships and the workplace

Háskóli Íslands

Airing out the linens: Equipping practitioners for exploring discourse on gender-based violence in intimate relationships and the workplace

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RannKyn – Immigrant women and gender-based violence

Brynja Elísabet Halldórsdóttir

Working on violent self: How perpetrators of intimate partner violence narrate about and position themselves during and after therapy? An example from Iceland

Jón Ingvar Kjaran, prófessor, MVS, HÍ, Guðrún Kristinsdóttir, prófessor emeritus, MVS, HÍ

We explore how men who have been violent and abusive in their intimate relationships reconstituted their violent behavior, by working on the self. How did they change or transform themselves through therapy? Which strategies did they use when caring for the self and which subject positions did they adopt? The paper also explores how interviewees draw on therapeutic discourse when talking about themselves and their violent practices. To seek answers, the narratives of seven research participants are interpreted by drawing on Foucault´s work on the ethics of the self and how subjects apply various techniques when taking care of and working on it. Our findings indicate that by confessing to violence and abuse in intimate relationships, these men become recognized as intelligible subjects who can change themselves by working on the self through therapy and self-introspection. Most of them came to be reflective and tried to find explanations for their violent acts. Some were partly repentant. However, as discussed, they also made excuses for the violence committed and failed to critically question their own privilege(s) and entitlements as men. Instead, they often blamed external factors or own mental illness(es) for their actions. These views can have implications for service providers, as despite considerable therapeutic insights these men still need guidance and increased awareness of gendering aspects of intimate partner violence (IPV) and insights into how they are constructed by the dominant discourses of masculinity.

Caught like Fish in a Net: How Icelandic Laws Keep Immigrant Women in Abusive Situations

Randi W. Stebbins, project leader, SE, UI and Brynja Halldórsdóttir, assistant professor, SE, UI

Often thought of as a gender paradise, Iceland has several legal structures that keep immigrant women in abusive partnerships or work situations. This became evident in 2018 in the 34 anonymous narratives from immigrant women in Kjarninn. The narratives included rape, sexual assault, denial of rights, illegal employment situations, coercion, racial slurs, etc. at work, at school, and in intimate partnerships. Many native Icelanders responded with shock, in part because they do not understand the legal framework that limits immigrants’ positions in society. While the Foreign Nationals Act of 2016 is most often associated with immigrants in Iceland, several other laws are at play in the narratives and in immigrants’ lives. These include laws on work and employment, child protection, education, registration of domicile, and domestic partnerships. These, along with the actors charged with carrying out laws, can form a nexus that traps immigrants in unhealthy or unsafe situations. Moreover, they often deny immigrants their agency. Educators must be aware of the possible violence happening to immigrant women in their institutions and whom they educate, this is meaningless without an understanding of the realities faced by victims of violence. By putting the narratives into the context of a complex legal framework, it becomes clearer how abuse against immigrant woman is perpetuated and why the positions open to immigrant women are more limited than those available to Icelandic women. With clarity comes more opportunities for educators to respond to violence against immigrant women and spread awareness on the issue.

Some say love it is a* …: How the #metoo discourse reflected immigrant women‘s lives in Iceland

Brynja Halldórsdóttir, assistant professor, SE, UI and Marie Carlson, professor emerita, University of Gothenburg

The #Metoo stories that immigrant women published in Kjarninn in 2018 were to many Icelanders striking reading. These stories offer two disparate yet intertwined aspects of violence against women. Firstly, intimate partner violence, exemplified in common forms of gender-based violence. Secondly, work-related violence such as wage garnishment, sexual abuse, rape and abuse of power. The women´s stories illustrate immigrant women´s vulnerability and lack of the cultural/social networks in Iceland. Their stories draw attention to the importance of taking the discussion further in Iceland with regards to women’s rights, but also to examine critically the performances of masculinity within Icelandic society as well as the discourse on popular conceptions of love and social justice. Using bell hook’s work on love as a social justice movement and Connell’s examination of masculinity we can begin to deconstruct how a country that prides itself on its gender equality, discounts the stories of marginalized peoples. By doing so, Icelandic society tries to maintain images of privilege around Icelandic cultural and social construction of the nation state. These discourses are important artifacts as populistic rhetoric around the “other” has become globally increasingly evident. The women’s stories are important sites for understanding how it is possible to work on developing culturally responsive educational tools for both men and women as well as service providers. In other words, through developing tools to educate both the service providers as well as the women themselves Iceland will move closer to its goal of an equitable society.