Monday, April 9, 2018

The contested nature of accountability 3/5

One of the premises of accountability in campaigns against oppression is that groups who have been oppressed are in the best position to understand injustice because they are more able to understand the realities of oppression (Temasese et al. 1998). This is why they must be leaders in campaigns to address that oppression to ensure ally actions match the needs and desires of a marginalised population (La Caze 2008; Cohen 2012). 
While the concept of accountability is much talked about in the movement against men’s violence against women, it is a much misunderstood concept. Mudge (cited in Goldrick-Jones 2002) says that accountability is a complicated and contested process. Lack of clarity about the meaning of accountability, and lack of agreement about the importance of it, generates tensions between men’s anti-violence organisations and women’s services (Goldrick-Jones 2002; Funk 2008; Macomber 2014).

In the context of men’s violence against women, the most important dimension of accountability is that men involved in violence prevention should be accountable to women and should be guided by the leadership of women. This entails seeking feedback from women, hearing what they have to say and being receptive to their comments (Margaret 2010; Macomber 2014). To assist men in this regard, Funk (2008) poses the following questions:
• How do we keep the voices of women survivors in the work we do? • What does respecting women’s leadership really look like? How do men do it? •  What are the models that men have of other men truly respecting women’s leadership?   (Funk 2008, p. 166).
One way to frame accountability is to ask the questions: Who benefits from my work and who is potentially harmed by my work?  Part of the reason for accountability is to address the interests of women who are impacted by men’s violence.

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