Thursday, January 19, 2006

Loyalty, part 1

Hi Everyone,
I'm back from a long hiatus which began as the fall semester came to a close with its usual chaos. Unfortunately the hiatus inadvertently continued through the holidays and I am just now getting back into the blog-swing.

And actually, to do so I'm going to refer back to last semester and a class I was taking on multicultural issues in counseling. At some point in the class we talked about how loyalty is a very important virtue in Latino families. I've had several lingering thoughts about loyalty since that discussion. Perhaps this would be a good place to flesh some of them out.

My first question: How does loyalty conflict with accountability?

In the field of partner abuse intervention, accountability is a concept that we come back to quite often as we challenge men who abuse to be accountable for their actions. I don't think it's a really new discussion to ask how such interventions may upset cultural norms like the "machismo" we see in Latino communities. I also doubt that many counselors think it's a bad thing to challenge something like "machismo" because it is widely seen as a gender role that is, in many ways, toxic for both genders.

But what about this broader concept of loyalty? Loyalty is a good thing, isn't it? Back to my first question: How does loyalty conflict with accountability? I'll try to answer my own question with a tangent looking at male friendships in general.

There's an article floating around out there called, "Men don't have real friends, they only have buddies." I don't know off hand who wrote it but it's used in some partner abuse programs. I like many things the article has to say, but it suggests that because men don't tend to be very emotionally open to one another that their friendships aren't real or meaningful. I agree that men often need to work on emotional expression, but it misses a part of male friendships that I think holds alot of meaning for men, which is loyalty.

I think it's important that we not minimize the importance of loyalty, as I think it holds alot of power for men in their friendships. That said, if our definition of loyalty boils down to a mutual code of not 'ratting' on one another, then perhaps it does nothing more than to perpetuate the male privilege that seems to underscore so many cases of domestic violence.

So...When loyalty becomes an unspoken expectation that you won't tell on me and I won't tell on you, it conflicts with accountability.

More Questions:

How do we redefine loyalty in such a way that it doesn't conflict with accountability?

Is loyalty a virtue to be respected, particularly in some cultures?

If so, how do we challenge male-privilege in those cultures without disrupting such widely held norms?

If, in the Latino community for example, loyalty means that family problems should not be taken outside of the home, what does this mean for the Latino man who is mandated to a counseling program?

Is he seen by others as committing a family betrayal simply by complying with the program?

I'll leave my thoughts there for now. Please feel free to respond with your own thoughts.


Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

So glad you are back. Been by to visit often, waiting for you to post again.

8:49 AM  
Blogger dulcimist said...

Hi Deb,

Not sure if it was busy-ness or lazy-ness, but glad to be back.


3:14 PM  

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