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Pre-Modern and Modern Power: Foucault and the Case of Domestic Violence Author(s): Andrea C.

Westlund Reviewed work(s): Source: Signs, Vol. 24, No. 4, Institutions, Regulation, and Social Control (Summer, 1999), pp. 1045-1066 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3175601 . Accessed: 19/01/2012 21:23
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Andrea

C.

Westlund

Pre-Modernand Modern Power: Foucault and the Case of Domestic Violence


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in and andraBartky, her essay"Foucault, Femininity, the Moderniza-

tion of PatriarchalPower,"argues that women have been subjected to a modernization of power that conforms closely to that described by Michel Foucault in Disciplineand Punish: the personal, visible, and violent power of the sovereign/patriarchhas yielded to the anonymous, invisible, and "lighter"- but more comprehensive - power of disciplinary institutions and practices. Bartky points out that although women now enjoy "what to previous generations would have been an unimaginable sexual liberty,"they are simultaneously subjected to an extensive set of nonviolent but extremely invasive disciplinary techniques that "aim at a regulation of the body's size and contours, its appetite, posture, gestures, and general comportment in space and the appearanceof each of its visible parts"(1990, 79, 80).1 Women discipline their bodies through an elaboratesystem of selfsurveillance; rituals of cosmetics, fashion, hair and skin care, diet, and exercise furnish innumerable examples of how women internalizepanoptic relations of power and regulate themselves before an anonymous male gaze. While Bartkyisolates an important development in women's experience of power, it seems to me that something of fundamental importance is lost in her analysis--namely, a recognition that some of the most overt and pervasive methods of maintaining power and control over women remain distinctly "pre-modern"in nature, to use Foucault's term. I am speaking, in particular,of the techniques of domestic and sexual violence, techniques that are intensely corporal and brutal and that are wielded in a personal and sporadic, ratherthan an impersonal and meticulous, manner.2Battered
I gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Mellon Foundation, and the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan. 1 Bartky attributes women's increased liberty in large part to the fact that "divorce, access to paid work outside the home, and the increasing secularizationof modern life have loosened the hold ... of the traditional family and ... of the church" (1990, 79). 21 do not, of course, claim that domestic violence is unique in its instantiation of premodern power. Pre-modern forms of power still dominate (to greater and lesser degrees) in in and 1999, vol. 24, no. 4] [Signs:JournalWomen Culture Society of ? 1999 by TheUniversity Chicago. rightsreserved. of All 0097-9740/99/2404-0006$02.00

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women, I argue, experience pre-modern and modern forms of power side by side: not only do they have to deal with the instigation of terror by an all-powerful "sovereign" but they are also often compelled to turn for help to modern institutions such as medicine and psychiatry,police, courts, and so on. These institutions often revictimize battered women by pathologizing their condition and treating them as mentally unhealthy individuals who are incapable of forming legitimate appraisalsof their situations and exercising rational agency over their lives. Where, within such configurations of power and control, do battered women find resources to resist and to regain their autonomy? Ultimately, I will argue that despite some real difficulties, modern institutions are not without enabling potential. Foucault's unmasking of the sinister side of disciplinarypractices should lead not to denial of the usefulness of the law and the "helping professions" for battered women generally but, rather,to recognition of the need to become both more proficient at diagnosing the ways these institutions do fail women and better able to imagine forms of local resistance and transformation. We might draw from this analysis, I argue, a less thoroughly pessimistic view of modern power than Foucault himself presented. While Foucault, Bartky,and others convincingly demonstrate that the normalizing effects of disciplinary practices and institutions ought to be regarded with a highly critical eye, it seems equally important to recognize and attempt to foster their potentially autonomyenhancing features- features that are absent, at least in the case of domestic violence, from the pre-modern power dynamic.

Domestic violence as pre-modern power

Current statistics on domestic violence are shocking: the FBI estimates that a woman is physically abused every nine seconds in the United States and that four women in America die every day as a result of domestic violence.3While some studies indicate that approximatelyone in four women experience violence in their relationships with men (Women's Aid Federation 1992; Paymar 1993), others find that violence occurs in as many as

variouspartsof the worldtodayandhavealso been presentin the United Statesin various traces riseof moderndisciplinary the instituformsthroughout periodin whichFoucault the of tions. James1996 gives an interesting analysis U.S. stateviolenceagainstnonwhitesover of the lastcentury, practices (domestic) contemporary focusingon post-CivilWarlynchings, in and policingandpenalexecution, the use of terror U.S. foreignpolicyin the ThirdWorld. 3 Unless otherwise in noted, statistics this sectionaretakenfrom the domesticviolence House 1996 (40-49). factsheetin DomesticViolenceProject/SAFE

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two-thirds of all heterosexual marriages (Roy 1982). In 1991, violence was stated as the reason for 22 percent of middle-class divorces (cited in Domestic Violence Project/SAFE House 1996,41), and three years earlier, domestic violence reportedly resulted in more injuries (of women) requiring medical attention than did auto accidents, muggings, and rape combined (Starkand Flitcraft 1988). Even ifBartky is right that the grip of the traditional patriarchalfamily has been loosened in some important ways, there is no question that violence against women remains frequent in intimate relationships. Much work has been done within the batteredwomen's movement (and within the feminist movement more broadly) to unmask the systematic and political nature of that violence, emphasizing repeatedly that men who batter do so not because they are stressed or sick or crazy but because they want to assert and maintain absolute power over their partners.4 Batterers maintain control through a pattern of coercive behavior, instilling in their partners a terror of violent punishment. Actual physical assaults give the victim reason to take intimidating tactics and threats seriously and thus to live in fear much of the time. The batterer may insult and humiliate the victim, telling her that she is crazy and perhaps even making her feel guilty for not maintaining the family peace. Battered women of color are often kept silent by being told that reporting the violence would betray the cause of the larger group by dividing loyalties or feeding into racist stereotypes. A lesbian batterer may threaten to "out" her partner,taking advantage of her partner'svulnerabilityto homophobic attitudes to intimidate her and keep her quiet. In many cases, forced isolation from friends and family, along with emotional and economic abuse, make it extremely difficult for a victim to assert her independence, and any attempt to do so is likely to be taken by the batterer as a personal insult warranting an excessive display of corporal vengeance. In between periods of high tension, however, life may take on a semblance of normality,giving the battered woman hope that future bouts of violence can be avoided and that the peace will hold. Women living in such conditions may even come to see their batterersas the bearers of mercy, the source of their happiness as well as their misery.5 The interaction of batterers with their partners and families constructs
4 For a synopsis of arguments about batterers' struggles for power and control, see Schechter 1982, 209-16. 5 The descriptions of the experiences of battered women in this paragraphand elsewhere are derived primarilyfrom my training and experience as a volunteer worker at the Ann Arbor Domestic Violence Project/SAFE House from September 1996 to September 1997. I also draw on Schechter 1982 and Walker 1989.

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and maintains a set of power relations that bolsters the status and influence of the head of the household within the family and at the same time defines and regulates the status and permissible activities of other household members. This structuraleffect sets such cases of abuse apartfrom various types of nondomestic physical violence and makes them amenable to an explicitly Foucauldian analysis.Unlike modern disciplinarytechniques of power, the power strategies employed by battererslargely parallelthose characterized by Foucault as pre-modern. In both the pre-modern state and the household, corporal punishment is deployed as a means of avenging perceived contempt for an authority figure. It is "a ceremonial by which a momentarily injured sovereignty is reconstituted ... by manifesting it at its most spectacular" (Foucault 1977, 48).6 Second, the punishment "is carried out in such a way as to give a spectacle not of measure, but of imbalance and excess; in this liturgy of punishment, there must be an emphatic affirmationof power and of its intrinsic superiority"(49). The superiority in question, moreover, is "that of the physical strength of the sovereign beating down upon the body of his adversaryand mastering it" (49). The battered and tortured body of the conquered subject evidences the power of the monarch and the batterer alike, and it is used by both in an "exercise of terror" that makes clear the asymmetrical relation of power between "sovereign"and "subject." The proximity of the batteredwoman to her assailantallows for a degree of close surveillance not possible in pre-modern relations between sovereign and subject, which lends to domestic violence a certain resemblance to the type of power exercised in modern disciplinary institutions such as prisons. Moreover, because women are often highly self-surveilling with respect to various norms of femininity, they may be particularlyvulnerable to continued abuse. Battered women often express shame at their abuse, fearing that in the eyes of others they will appearto have failed to perform their normatively required feminine domestic role successfully. It is not uncommon for a woman to attempt to end the violence by trying, for quite some time, to align her own behavior more cosely to the perceived demands of the batterer. Nonetheless, the primaryconfiguration of power in an abusive relationship is far removed from the diffuse, invisible, and anonymous arrangement epitomized in the Benthamite panopticon. In an abusive relationship both the exercise of brute force and the ability to issue coercive threats are clearly and overtly centered in the person of the batterer.Although often
61 am not, of course, suggesting that the battereris actually injured by the victim, merely that he often seems to perceive the victim (tacitly or explicitly) as posing an affront (or at least the possibility of an affront) to his own power.

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invisible to a wider public, these powers are paraded ostentatiously before the battered woman herself and perhaps also before her children. Women and children, like the subjects of the pre-modern state, are both objects and spectators of the violence, made aware of the "unrestrainedpresence" (Foucault 1977, 49) of the batterer both by active demonstrations of his might (the destruction of property, maiming or killing of pets, intentional hurting of other members of the household) and by their own painfully marked bodies. Despite the fact that domestic violence takes place almost entirely behind closed doors, it is characterized by relations of visibility that are more pre-modern than modern, according to Foucault's definitions: the batterer is painfully present to members of the household in much the same way that the sovereign is to members of the pre-modern state.

Battered women in modern institutions Despite the heavy-handednessof the punishment that they may face if unsuccessful, many women do attempt to escape the coercive behavior of their assailants. They may step forward by calling the police, fleeing to shelters, or, in the extreme, killing their batterers.Their immediate means of recourse include the police force, courts, domestic violence shelters, counseling services, and the psychiatric and medical professions. (Prisons, too, figure in the experiences of some survivors of domestic violence, if they are convicted of a criminal offense against their assailants.)All of these institutions place battered women within new and different sets of power relations, and they are all what Foucault would consider to be distinctly modern, disciplinary institutions, located somewhere along what he calls "the great carceralcontinuum" (1977, 303). When a woman decides, for whatever reason, to avail herself of their services, the exercise of the arbitrarywill of the sovereign is replaced with the impersonal, comprehensive, and highly regular rule of such institutions, and she is, in effect, subjected to "a compulsory principle of visibility" (187). Her mental and physical health, for example, are carefully assessed and monitored and can be used for or against her in court if she or her assailantis arrested and brought to trial. In short, the woman seeks help within a modern system that reverses pre-modern relations of visibility and replacescorporal violence with interconnected systems of "surveillanceand normalizing judgement" (192). Unfortunately, the institutions within this system often fail to provide either permanent safety or genuine empowerment to survivors of domestic violence. It is well known that, until recently, police intervention rarely provided battered women with the protection they sought. Even now, what happens within the privacyof the home is too often considered to be

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"outside the realm of public law and order" (Walker 1989, 53), a problem that tends to vary in intensity according to the race and class of the batterer and the victim. The extensive web of impersonal disciplinarypractices created by modem institutions leaves spaces for batterersto exercise personal and corporal forms of power over their partnersand children. In the case of heterosexual battering, one might speculate that loopholes have persisted within an otherwise highly comprehensive web of disciplinary practices and institutions because they reinforce (albeit in an extreme and officially prohibited manner) some of the gender norms that modern institutions themselves inculcate-a particular kind of nuclear family, for example, characterizedby a gendered division of labor, roles, authority, and sexual and political identities. Increasing the rigor and effectiveness of police intervention, although desirable, will not ensure the emancipation of those trapped in such spaces. Battered women are heavily stigmatized both in the popular imagination and within the courts, making it difficult for them to present their situations in terms that are not self-defeating. As Martha Mahoney notes, the very language for describing survivors of domestic violence is loaded: "Because the term 'battered woman' focuses on the woman in a violent relationship ratherthan the man or the battering process, it creates a tendency to see the woman as the problem" (1991, 25). There is indeed a long and pernicious tradition of "profiling" the battered woman, analyzing the characteristics of her psychological and emotional life rather than focusing on the batterer'squest for power and control.7 In fact, battered women often have been pathologized in a manner not unlike that described by Foucault in TheBirth of the Clinic (1973). For him, the transition from classical to modern medicine is marked by a shift from "health" to "normality" as medicine's central regulating principle. In the life sciences in general, Foucault claims, it came to be the case that "one did not think first of the internal structure of the organizedbeing

and but of themedical (1973, 35). of bipolarity thenormal thepathologica'l


Battered women's "abnormalities"have been described and redescribed within the psychiatric literature of the twentieth century, characterizedas everything from hysteria to masochistic or self-defeating personality disorders (SDPD) to codependency (Herman 1992, 116-18; Tavris 1992, 170-207). Moreover, such pathologies measure, classify, and define battered women's deviance not just from "normal"female behavior but also
7 Linda Alcoff and Laura Gray point to Freudian "seduction theory" as a paradigmatic example of this tendency: "Freud'sattribution of sexual abuse reports to neuroses and internal fantasies effectively rendered the real events invisible and hindered attempts to deal with incest and sexual abuse ... and effected a shift of focus away from the perpetrator of the crime and onto the victim" (1993, 273).

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from universalized male norms of independence and self-interest. Tavris points out that both SDPD and codependency involve behaviors such as "sacrificingone's own interests and putting other people first"that are "virtually a role requirement for women in our [culture]" (1992, 181). Some psychologists have noticed, and been disturbed by, such overlap between alleged pathologies and expected and deliberately socialized gender traits: Sprock, Blashfield, and Smith note that "it is particularlydisturbing that personality disorder behaviors seen as characteristicof women appear to be ... close enough to society's stereotype of women that normalwomen disorder whoadopttraditionalroles diagnoses" (cited maybereceiving personality in Tavris 1992, 186). Insofar as this is the case, the disciplinary practices in which almost all women are, to varying degrees, expected to participate reinforce the pathologization of battered women by deflecting attention from the social and political aspects of domestic violence to the private neuroses to which women as a group are thought to be prone. As violence against women becomes associated with cultural images of stereotypically female psychopathologies, it becomes difficult to motivate critical discussion of underlying gender relations. The perception that something is pathologically wrong with women who "get battered"- in particular,the notion that they may be responsible for or complicit in their own abuse - can compromise their ability to act effectively in their own defense in some fairly basic ways. A woman's call to the police may be viewed by responding officers as an inflammatory, hysterical, or even vindictive reaction to a "normal" level of marital discord. The batterer may find it none too difficult to convince the officers that it was in fact the woman who had provoked the dispute or got out of control, that she was behaving irrationally or had some psychological problem/alcohol problem/drug problem that warranted whatever measures he had taken, that she attacked him and he was merely restraining her, or simply that the dispute had been blown out of proportion and was properly a private matter. Similarly, a woman who obliquely reveals disturbing aspects of her relationship with her partnerto a mental health professional may be diagnosed with and medicated for some personality disorder before - or even instead of- being asked and educated about domestic violence. Even when a victim of domestic violence genuinely does suffer from a serious psychological condition such as major depression, prescribed treatments may fail completely to recognize and respond to its (likely abuse-related) causes. Tavrisgives a particularlystriking example of this phenomenon: "One male psychiatrist told a depressed friend of mine that she should 'become more active--cleaning the closets would be a good idea"' (1992, 188).

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Even more apt and well-intended classifications of battered women's "disorders" such as "battered women's syndrome" and "learned helplessness,"can place survivors of domestic violence in a double bind. These concepts are often used in expert witness testimony in court to make women's strategies for coping with domestic violence intelligible to a jury burdened by stigmatizing stereotypes of batteredwomen. However, Mahoney points out that "even when expertise is developed by feminists who explain that women act rationally under circumstances of oppression, courts and the press often interpret feminist expert testimony through the lens of cultural stereotypes, retelling a simpler vision of women as victims too helpless or dysfunctional to pursue a reasonable course of action" (1991, 4). Because the witness's audience is predisposed to hear only certain things about battered women, experts' utterances in the courtroom may have unintended and even counterproductive implications: the disclosure of battered women's experience may be incorporated into a narrative structure that both minimizes batterers'responsibility for long-term abuse and blocks the jury's understanding of the motivations of women who strike back against their assailantswith violent acts of their own. There are a couple of ways that preconceptions about the mental instability of battered women can undermine attempts to make victims' actions intelligible to juries and judges. On the one hand, certain kinds of costbenefit analysis (e.g., a decision not to leave due to a threat of serious retaliation or because of a severe lack of financial and personal resources) may be entirely overlooked and the victim's resulting "failure"to leave a batterer treated as a straightforward sign of passivity or as selfdestructiveness. Overt attempts at physical self-defense, on the other hand, may be understood and treated as examples of strictly irrationaland offensive behavior. Second, acts (or failures to act) that are underpinned by detrimental psychological changes typically associated with the trauma of long-term abuse (learned helplessness, battered women's syndrome, posttraumatic stress disorder) are prone to subtle but insidious misconstrual. For expert witness testimony to have its intended effect in court, these to conditions must be understood as normal but disabling responses a pattern of abusive treatment and not as problems stemming from preexisting (or latent) personality disorders independent of the battering situation. Jurorswho accept the latter interpretation are more likely to find it plausible that the woman herself is deeply implicated in the violent nature of the relationship and that her failure to leave is a significant part of the overall problem. In actuality, a woman's reluctance to leave her batterer may be based on a complicated combination of factors, often including her realistic assessment of her options and the risks they involve as well as the effects of possible psychological responses to prolonged trauma. Considerations

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of both sorts, however, should turn attention back to the batterer and his responsibility for his own harmful actions. Unfortunately, the widespread misidentification or misconstrual (and sometimes outright fabrication) of batteredwomen's pathologies tends to prevent this refocusing of attention. In the minds of jurors and judges the question asked about the battered woman all too often is "Why did she stay?"rather than "Why did he batter?"and the presumed answer is that she stayed because there was something wrong with her.When such responses are endemic to the courtroom, certain important conditions for the social uptake and understanding of survivors' attempts at resistance, protest, and moral and legal judgment of their batterers'behavior are clearly not secured. The focus on pathology and normalcy in the dominant institutional definitions of battered women fits remarkablyneatly into the disciplinary scheme that Foucault describes in Disciplineand Punish, in which the tacit goal is the production of homogeneous, docile, and efficiently deployed bodies. By diagnosing and treating women for agency-denying mental disorders such as SDPD (and, significantly, by continuing to include such disorders in the appendix of the Diagnosticand StatisticalManualofMental Disorder[DSM] despite a lack of convincing evidence), the "helping professions" participatein precisely this kind of disciplining.8The effects of such diagnoses are reinforced and amplified in the courtroom, where women who kill their batterersin self-defense are often pushed into pleading insanity instead. As SarahHoagland points out, "lawyersadvise clients to plead insanity, and juries convict those who instead plead self-defense. As a result, the judicial system promotes the idea that the woman who effectively resists aggressive acts of male domination is insane" (1988, 45). Moreover, the penalties imposed on women who murder or otherwise strike out at their battererstend to be significantly harsher than those imposed on men who batter and/or kill their partners (Browne 1987, 11), which suggests that it is the women'sbehavior that is considered to deviate most radically from an enforceable norm. The ways modern disciplinary institutions can interact to press women back into the mold they seek to break by ending an abusive relationship begin to seem all too clear.

The problem of empowerment How, then, can we work effectively toward the empowerment of survivors of domestic violence? The story told in Disciplineand Punish suggests that there is not much personal empowerment to hope for within modern institutions - that the exercise of power therein, while certainlyless violent and
8

See Caplan 1991 for criticism of the DSM process.

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terrifying, is generally much more invasive and controlling than the exercise of power by a pre-modern sovereign. If the liberal, humanitarianstories we tell about our modern disciplinary institutions merely mask the reconfiguration of power into new, and newly insidious, forms, it becomes difficult to imagine that such institutions can play a positive role in battered women's lives at all. In the remainder of this article, however, I argue that they can and that their capacityto do so revealsan ambivalencein disciplinary practice that has been obscured by Foucault's insightful but ultimately one-sided analysis. In what follows, I focus on features of well-designed shelter programs that foster the development of autonomy-enhancing skills and attitudes, on discursive strategies for effective internal critique of modern institutions and disciplines that fail to exhibit those features, and on the potential political impact of accurateredescription and/or renaming of widely misunderstood problems and practices. All three of these areas contain potentially powerful tools for loosening the grip of pathologizing and otherwise disempowering norms and for introducing enabling alternatives to a broader audience.9 It is patently clear that, for battered women, many of the material preconditions for autonomy--bodily integrity, freedom of movement, freedom to form interpersonal connections with people other than the batterer-are more likely to be established outside the battering relationship than within it. In spite of the problems with modern legal and medical institutions, the importance of establishing physical safety and security, as a first measure, cannot be overemphasized. And despite the facts that personal protection orders do not always work, that women cannot stay permanently in shelters, and that batterers often are imprisoned for only a short time (if at all), all three of these measures do at least increase the likelihood that a woman will be safe long enough to begin considering longer-term options for a life in which she is not coercively subjected to the will of her assailant. This observation, modest though it is, ought to give pause. An outright rejection of the modern institutions to which a battered woman can turn would be absurdly self-defeating, since the very possibility of resistance to domestic violence depends, for a significant
By a "pathologizing" norm, I mean a norm according to which certain nonpathological behaviors of battered women are illegitimately treated as symptoms of some pathology. Closely related to pathologization (and, for the purposes of this article, included under the same name) is the tendency to misinterpret real pathologies in ways that distort their causes and characteristicsin politically pernicious ways. By "empowering" norms, I mean those that guide us to treat battered women in ways that more accuratelyand constructively track their social and psychological conditions, especially those that facilitate survivors' own participation in the discourse about their needs. 9

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number of women, on the existence of the relatively safe spaces that these institutions offer. The deeper question we might pose here is: What theoretical sense can we make of this apparent fact? Part of what I have hoped to demonstrate above is that, even if Foucault's historiography of power is broadly accurate (at least insofar as it traces out predominant patterns of change), there is compelling evidence that the "regimes" of power in question are less than hegemonic in their scope. Strands of so-called pre-modern power coexist with modern, disciplinary techniques and interact with them in complex and varied ways in the lives of many people. The case of domestic violence is not, of course, unique in providing us with reason to doubt the cleanliness of the historical break between modem and pre-modern patterns of power; indeed, the notion that discontinuities between epochal regimes are ever sharp and complete has already been criticized on conceptual as well as empirical grounds.10But it raises, in a particularlypressing way, the need to investigate the ways in which our modern institutions are capable of facilitating resistance-resistance understood not just in the abstract but in specific relation to allegedly antiquated, but still thriving, "pre-modern"bastions of terror and violence. Juxtaposing the techniques employed in the modern helping professions with those of batterershighlights not just the invasive, pathologizing potential of disciplinary institutions but also their crucial positive and empowering potential in the face of brutality and terror. Consider, for example, the fact that the typical domestic violence shelter is itself an environment of high surveillanceand discipline: when a woman moves into a shelter, any disallowed habits (drugs, alcohol) are curtailed, and she is expected to follow timetables and respect curfews, to leave her medications under staff supervision, to carry out a regimen of assigned chores, and to abide by a list of fairly strict rules of conduct. Striking or threatening one's children, other residents, or shelter workers is strictly forbidden, and one may not leave one's children unattended at any time. Each resident is typically expected to attend daily house meetings and to meet regularly with an advocate who will trackher progress and subject her plans to surveillance."
10 See, e.g., Charles Taylor's critique of Foucault's "monolithic relativism" (1985, 182). Also, James 1996 provides a particularlyinteresting analysisof the resurfacingof spectacularly cruel (and allegedly antiquated) violent practices in the modem state's treatment of subordinated racialminorities (24-43). 1The description of shelter policies in this paragraph is based on my experience as a volunteer at the Domestic Violence Project/SAFE House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. SAFE House is a well-established and politically active shelter with connections to numerous other similarly designed domestic violence projects across the country.

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This highly structured environment is not flawless, but at its best it both provides a high level of security and also can be profoundly enabling. To understand the effectiveness and legitimacy of such an arrangement, it is necessary to draw a distinction between two different conceptions of freedom: freedom negatively conceived as the absence of censure or interference, and freedom conceived more positively, as requiring some (autonomy enhancing) structure or set of norms that provides individuals with viable options and the capacity to choose among them. Rules, in a shelter situation, are not imposed for the express purpose of restricting the freedom of residents; rather,license to engage in certain types of behavior is curtailedto ensure safety and to foster the acquisition of empowering skills and attitudes. For example, many women blame themselves for the violence to which they have been subjected and may feel a crippling sense of shame over their situations. Some have become accustomed to "selfmedicating" with drugs or alcohol. Many have never dealt with the legal system and must learn how to optimize their chances of success. Seeking a job or further training or education can also be a daunting prospect (especially since such signs of independence may have provoked violent outbursts from an assailantin the past), but these also offer very real benefits in terms of increased economic independence, mobility, and self-respect. There are many smaller scale needs to be met as well: some battered women have not used public transit in years and, depending on the degree of psychological terror and forced dependency to which they have been subject, may find the prospect frightening or bewildering. Others have never had to search for housing on their own. Providing a structured"disciplinary"environment in which such skills can be learned is not inherently perverse or oppressive, and its successes are evidenced by the many women who move on from their assailantsto find a new, safer,and more independent life for themselves and their children. My point here is that disciplinary practice, in itself, is not the problem. But what are the conditions that differentiate shelters from institutions in which battered women seem to fare less well? Well-designed shelters, it seems to me, are relativelysuccessful due to their oppositional positioning with respect to certain genuinely oppressive (and pathologizing) norms. Certainly,they want to advancesome norms of their own; however, it does not make sense to paint all attempts at normalization with the same brush. We have to be willing to ask substantive questions about what projects are being advanced and whether they exacerbateor ameliorate the conditions of those they are intended to help. Because they use a marginalizedgroup's experiences and testimony to destabilize oppressive norms, battered women's shelters and grass-roots anti-domestic violence programs are subver-

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sive in their activities. The central disciplinarypracticesof well-run shelters play a key role in authorizing survivors to speak (and be heard) in otherwise inaccessible arenasand are thus integral to the formulation and implementation of intelligible and effective strategies of resistance. Although there is a sense in which shelter programs reproduce the status quo by trying to fit women into society--and by attempting to impart the skills and knowledge required to accomplish that aim--their larger goal is to remake society and social norms to accommodate these women as autonomous individuals who refuse to submit to patriarchalnorms of violence against women. Indeed, I argue that such anti-domestic violence programs constitute local sites of resistance, in something very like the Foucauldian sense. The normative challenges that emanate from these local points of resistance reinforce, and are reinforced by, various other institutional attempts to counteract the autonomy-denying pathologization of battered women. For example, psychologist Paula J. Caplan critiques practices of diagnostic categorization within mainstream mental health institutions, exposing the weakness of the empirical basis for the inclusion of disorders such as SDPD and Late Luteal Phase Dysphoric Disorder (LLPDD) in the DSM and tracing in detail the problematic way in which the decisions to include them have been made. Caplan, who was an invited advisor and consultant for the DSM-IV, recounts a remarkableseries of frustrating interactions with article "How Do They Dethe DSM committee in her Canadian Psychology cide Who Is Normal? The Bizarre, but True, Tale of the DSM Process" (1991). Her requests for manuscripts went unfulfilled despite promises to the contrary,her criticisms and suggestions were discussed but then failed to appear in the minutes of crucial meetings, letters requesting her input were sent to her after the deadline for contributions, and so forth. The struggle over the composition of the DSM that Caplan so strikingly recounts bears out Foucauldian insights into the ways that power dynamics both shape and constrain emerging discourses. At the same time, however, it illuminates another Foucauldian point about the tendency of such dynamics to create local sites of resistance.Although Caplan found her voice effectively excluded from the process of compiling the DSM-IgJ the subsequent publication and circulation of her story raises questions about the decision-making process that might otherwise have been swept under the carpet. Moreover, by invoking accepted professional and ethical norms of psychology, Caplan widens the audience for her claims about sexist bias in the DSM to include all psychologists concerned with the ethics of their profession. In doing so, she finds a foothold for destabilizing otherwise unquestioned norms that pathologize women and begins to create

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conditions for mental health professionals' increased acceptance of certain kinds of protest and resistanceon the part of survivorsof domestic violence and their shelter-basedadvocates. In another article published in the same issue of Canadian Psychology, "Delusional Dominating Personality Disorder: A Modest Proposal for Identifying Some Consequences of Rigid Masculine Socialization,"KayeLee Pantony and Caplan take a slightly different approach to destabilizing sexist norms. They focus on the fact that the DSM not only pathologizes some conditions that it probably should not (SDPD, they point out, is "a chillingly accurate description of the non-pathological responses of many people, mostly women, to being victims of violence") but also fails to question the normalcy of typically male behaviors, even problematic and dangerous ones, to anything like the same degree to which it pathologizes typically female ones: "The sexist lack of balance in the DSM because of SDPD and LLPDD, among other categories, is clear. SDPD has been described as a mislabelling and pathologizing of the traditional, good-wifeand-mother pattern (Caplan 1987); there is no parallel DSM category for traditional 'masculine' behaviour such as Macho Personality Disorder or John Wayne Syndrome (Caplan 1988).... Similarly, although it is well-established that both males and females experience mood and behaviour changes as a result of hormonal fluctuations, there is no DSM maleequivalent of LLPDD such as Testosterone-based Aggression (Caplan 1988)" (Pantony and Caplan 1991, 120). In their clever (and sometimes downright witty) response to this blatant gender imbalance, Pantony and Caplan enumerate a range of personality traits and behavioral tendencies often found in batterersand other controlling men, and they group them together as constitutive of the "mental illness" named in the title of the article (but not, of course, listed in the DSM)- Delusional Dominating PersonalityDisorder, or DDPD. The authors argue that the diagnostic category they propose would not only help identify a real psychological problem for many men and a few women but also help focus attention on the victims of those with DDPD, often women and children who suffer, quite literally,at their hands. They even suggest that before diagnosing a woman with SDPD, a mental health professional should try to determine whether she lives with a man suffering from DDPD. They point out that "a woman is often mislabeled as pathological when in fact her so-called pathology is a consequence of her male partner'spathological behaviour toward her" (129). As numerous respondents to Pantony and Caplan'sarticle point out, it is hard to tell how seriously the authors intend their proposed diagnostic category to be taken. There is no question, however, that the article is

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meant to make a serious impact on its readersand on the American Psychological Association; it is clearly a strategic move in the debate surrounding SDPD and LLPDD. On first reading, it seems to be merely a satiricalpiece, and it has a great deal of rhetoricalpower as such.12 However, Caplan actually did submit DDPD for consideration for the DSM-Ig, and the tale of its unceremonious dismissal by the DSM committee forms the second part of the article discussed above, "How Do They Decide Who Is Normal?" Juxtaposed with the story of her trials and tribulations with SDPD, the evidence of the committee's flippancy toward a category that has at least as much empirical basis as SDPD (if not more) reinforces Caplan'sappeal to norms of scientific practice and underscores the lack of professionalism surrounding the treatment of SDPD and LLPDD. Psychiatrists and psychologists who, in response to Pantony and Caplan'swork, find themselves coming up with good reasons to resist the pathologization of traditional male behaviors are then faced with the problem of how to argue for the continued pathologization of certain traditional female behaviors in ways that are not simply ad hoc and fundamentally sexist. Consider, finally,the strategy of renaming and/or redescribing currently misunderstood practices in politically salient ways. In their own efforts to combat DSM-based pathologization and to advance nonpathologizing, autonomy-enhancing redescriptionsof batteredwomen, many shelters and shelter-based advocacy programs have abandoned the term battered woman in favor of the more agent-focused descriptor survivorof domestic violence. Similarly,giving descriptive names to batterers'actions and attackson their partnerscan both increase awarenessof the struggle for control that occurs in a battering relationship and emphasize the fact that a battered woman's decisions and strategies must take into account the serious risks she faces when she attempts to escape that dynamic. Mahoney suggests the term assaultfor the violence that is often directed against women who separation attempt to leave their assailants: To expose the struggle for control, we should recognize the assault on the woman's separation as a specific type of attack that occurs at or after the moment she decides on a separation or begins to prepare for one.... Separation assaultis the attack on the woman's body and
12 Understood as satire, Caplan'spiece would bear much resemblance to the strategic parodies discussed by David Halperin in Saint Foucault, particularlythe strategy he refers to as "appropriationand theatricalization"(1995, 49-50). Caplan problematizes the presumed normalcy of typical male behaviors in much the way that the San Francisco Bay Times, according to Halperin, parodically problematizes the presumed normalcy of typical heterosexual behavior (50-51).

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volition in which her partnerseeks to prevent her from leaving, retaliate for the separation, or force her to return. It aims at overbearing her will as to where and with whom she will live, and coercing her in order to enforce connection in a relationship. It is an attempt to gain, retain, or regain power in a relationship, or to punish the woman for ending the relationship. It often takes place over time. (Mahoney 1991, 65-66) The escalation of threats and violence at the time of attempted or actual separation is well documented by domestic violence shelter programs across the continent, and naming the phenomenon "has the potential to change consciousness in a manner comparableto the concept of'date rape.' 'Date rape' and 'separation assault' name phenomena women know from our own experience, but which remain invisible without names" (Mahoney 1991, 68-69). The naming of such phenomena challenges the norms that make them invisible and thereby, like Pantony and Caplan'sredescriptive efforts, constitutes not an attack on the modernity of the institutional structuresin question but an internal critique of the institutions' failure to meet the standardsset by their own (albeit modem) norms. Courtroom advocacy for survivors of domestic violence, while sometimes toeing the fine line between pathologizing and nonpathologizing descriptions of abused women and their actions, can serve a similar consciousness-raising purpose. Although such testimony, as I have argued, is vulnerable to suboptimal or perverse interpretation, that some courts refuse to admit it at all reveals that it does, at least in some sense, challenge received norms. Lenore Walkerrecounts an instance in which she was prevented from testifying for Joyce Hawthorne, a woman who shot her batterer in his bed and was pleading self-defense. The prosecutor objected that Walker'stestimony would "take away the role of the jury to decide if Joyce Hawthorne's perceptions of danger were reasonable. You'll open the door to allow any woman to kill a man she doesn't like, and get away with it!" (quoted in Walker 1989, 33). Juries' predisposition to such views is precisely the reason expert testimony is still needed, in spite of its imperfections. Increased circulation of alternative descriptions of the agents and behaviors in question graduallybegins to create the conditions for genuine uptake of survivors' discourse, uptake that often translates into very real gains for suffering women. In Canada, for example, the federal government recently granted conditional pardons to two women, and early release to two others, who had been convicted of murder or manslaughter after killing their batterers.In their trials, these women's histories of abuse had been disallowed as evidence that they were acting in self-defense, but

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a later Supreme Court decision (1990) to recognize battered-woman syndrome as a legitimate defense opened the door for subsequent reconsideration of their cases (Mcllroy 1997).13

The ongoing

struggle

There is, of course, a delicate balancing act involved in achieving public acknowledgment and understanding of the profound psychological effects of domestic violence while at the same time resisting self-stultifying forms of pathologization and medicalization. The difficulty of finding a balance is felt not just in legal advocacy programs and professional psychological discourse but also in domestic violence shelters themselves. In the late 1980s, feminist activists and theorists worried that hard-won access to government funding, though clearly of immense importance to the expansion of availableservices, would foster counterproductive transformations in the organizational structures of these few refuges for battered women. In her 1989 article "The Struggle over Needs," Nancy Fraser contrasts early, grassroots shelters with their later, publicly funded counterparts and observes that "municipalfunding brought with it a variety of new, administrative constraints ranging from accounting procedures to regulation, accreditation, and professionalization requirements.... Increasingly, [shelters] came to be staffed by professional social workers, many of whom had not themselves experienced battery.Thus, a division between professional and client supplanted the more fluid continuum of relations that had characterized the earlier shelters" (Fraser 1989, 176). The practices of publicly funded shelters, Fraserclaims, have become "more individualizing and less politicized" as well as "increasinglypsychiatrized"(176). When the oppositional strategies of shelters are thus co-opted by problematic mainstream institutions, it certainly seems that a valuable opportunity for political empowerment has been sacrificed in exchange for financial viability. Operating on a model that requires the maintenance of a professionally certified staff, unless explicitly moderated with significant countermeasures, does run the risk of positioning battered women as mere clients requiring
to certain on AnneMcIlhowever, recognize important, qualifications this success. and Association Elizaof roy,writingfor the Globe Mail andcitingKimPateof the Canadian bethFrySocieties,observes "thebattered-woman that defenseappears be rarely to syndrome used in Canadian woman courts,andwhen it is, expertssayit is mostlywhite, middle-class [sic]who benefitfrom it.... 'A womanwho doesn'tfit the ultrafeminine, passivewoman isn't [stereotype] seen to availherselfof the defense,whichis why we rejectthe notion of a syndrome,becauseit pathologizeswomen ratherthan looking at what she is living in"' in (McIlroy1997, A9; bracketed interpolations source).
13It is

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physical and psychological care/management. What is lost when this happens is a recognition of survivors as political agents with real contributions to make to what is, after all, a political struggle. The prospects for achieving the kind of balance required to make a shelter an empowering environment are, I think, contingent on altering expert-patient relationships and creating discursive conditions in which survivors' own voices will be heard and their views and concerns taken as legitimate.14Although it is beyond the scope of this article to investigate at length what this approachwould involve, there does seem to have been, in recent years, something of a groundswell toward the reestablishment of egalitarian and politically motivated practices in shelters in the United States.'5 Although various sorts of professionals offer important services within contemporary domestic violence shelters and programs, their support groups and counseling programs tend to be quite nonhierarchical, with survivors of domestic violence (who may or may not have professional training) figuring prominently among those involved in answering crisis lines and helping battered women to articulate their experiences to one another. The expert-client relationship has, in some cases, been reconceptualized as the somewhat less hierarchicalrelationship between "service provider" and "serviceparticipant'. In the state of Michigan, legal advocates working out of shelters not only help survivors through their court cases but also work with professionals in many other fields (e.g., police, prosecutors, judges, physicians, nurses, mental health personnel, social workers) to increasetheir awareness and understanding of domestic violence. Other shelter workers and volunteers raise community awarenessby giving public talks about domestic violence and by involving themselves in organizing and publicizing related events such as the annual "TakeBack the Night" march against sexual violence. Moreover, workers at domestic violence projects in Michigan have been instrumental in advocating for (and achieving) progressive legal reform, including a recent renovation of required police procedure in domestic violence cases.'6A shelter operating on this sort of model is a nexus
This suggestion is further developed in Alcoff and Gray 1993. Again, I draw these observations from my training and experience as a shelter volunteer in Washtenaw County, Michigan, and from conversations with shelter coordinators, counselors, staff, and other volunteers during that time. 16 As of January1995, each police department in Michigan must develop and implement a written policy for officers responding to domestic violence calls, and these policies must be formulated in consultation with a local shelter. In domestic violence cases, an arrest should be made if the responding officer has "probable cause" to believe an assault occurred, although he or she need not witness the assault, see evidence of physical injury, or have a warrant. Moreover, officers are instructed to arrest even when the victim has not committed herself to subsequent prosecution of the assailant.Police are authorized to sign the complaint
14

15

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of intersecting oppositional strategies: it not only attempts to provide much needed services on a participatorybasis but also engages in community outreach, public education, political activism, and legal reform. If it negotiates these different tasks with skill and sensitivity and maintains connections among them, a shelter can be something much more empowering than the hierarchized, psychiatrized "clinic" it might, at its worst, have become. Finally, it is important to recognize that the successful formulation and implementation of nonexclusionary oppositional tactics depends crucially on shelter coordinators' and workers' sensitivity to survivors'very individualized situations and needs. If such differences are ignored, the shelter's institutional structure can fail battered women by interacting perversely with oppressive norms instead of successfully opposing them. Workingclass women, for example, will need flexibility in their shelter schedules if they are to hold down much needed jobs, and they may also need assistance with transportation and child care. Even if initially admitted to a shelter, such women may "voluntarily" leave if these needs are not being met. Strictly enforced limits on the length of a stay in a shelter can also systematically disadvantagesome women, namely those who face greater challenges in finding employment and housing of their own. As Kimberle Crenshaw points out, "Many women of color, for example, are burdened by poverty, child care responsibilities, and the lack of job skills. These burdens, largely the consequence of gender and class oppression, are then compounded by the raciallydiscriminatory employment and housing practices often faced by women of color, as well as by the disproportionately high unemployment among people of color that makes battered women of color less able to depend on the support of friends and relatives for temporary shelter" (Crenshaw 1995, 358). She concludes, and I concur, that "intervention strategies based solely on the experiences of women who do not share the same class or race backgrounds will be of limited help to women who face different obstacles because of race and class" (Crenshaw 1995, 358). To account for the impact of such obstacles, shelters must be flexible in their treatment of clients and provide diverse resources and adequate training for staff and volunteers. Crenshaw also points out that language barriersseriously disadvantage non-English-speaking women, both because information about shelters is less accessibleto them and because some shelters, lacking bilingual workers
themselves (i.e., instead of requiring that the victim sign it), and in such cases it is the county rather than the victim herself who presses charges (McGee 1995, 23-25). This practice is highly valuable in cases in which an assailantwould otherwise pressure the victim into dropping charges. Finally, officers are also required to give the victim information about local services and resources.

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and resources, end up turning them away as a matter of course (Crenshaw 1995, 359). Furthermore, written resources (such as handbooks) produced and distributed by shelter programs are of little help even to English-speaking women who have had little education and/or are functionally illiterate, and materials written at a fairly high level of sophistication Alternative tacitly assume an educated, probably middle-class, readership.'7 means of reaching those not proficient in understanding written or spoken English need to be devised if the vulnerabilities of such women are not to be reinforced by shelters' policies and practices. Similarly, outreach efforts and resources directed at middle-class, ablebodied white women will be less effective in reaching women with physical or mental disabilities, and shelter programs that ignore the needs of battered lesbians, or are reluctant to deal with them, will interact with a pervasive set of homophobic norms to deprive nonheterosexual women of a much needed recourse. Moreover, the particular needs of recent immigrants facing cultural barriers,as well as those of wives of undocumented workers who fear the consequences of stepping forward to American authorities, are often overlooked (Crenshaw 1995, 359). Because the usefulness of shelter programs can be severely hampered by inattention to intersections among gender, class, race, sexuality, and other aspects of women's identities, it is particularlyimportant that the programs promote the participation and input (and foster genuine uptake of that input) of survivors of differing social positions. A shelter'swillingness and ability to customize its resources and regulations to fit the differing needs of various individuals is clearly crucial to its success as an empowering institution but is by no means incompatible with a central constellation of (negotiable) rules and norms. In other words, appropriatesensitivity does not preclude an institution's being modem and disciplinary in its internal dynamics. As I argue above, some structure of rules and behavioral norms is central both to a shelter's ability to provide a safe refuge from the batterer'sexercise of pre-modern power and to its enactment of oppositional strategies of resistance and change. The pathologizing norms that circulate in other modern institutions to which the shelter is connected can be criticized and resisted through feminist legal advocacy and counseling, psychological discourse, and various forms of community outreach and education, which are all moves made within modern institutions. It is worth reemphasizing that domestic violence is
'7Thanks to Richard Matthews (Department of Philosophy, Queen's University) for Handbook BatteredWomenproduced by the for pointing this out after reading the Survivor's Domestic Violence Project/SAFE House (McGee 1995).

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indeed an exercise of power of a different and more destructive order than that encountered by women who leave their batterersand turn to modern institutions for help. Although there is nothing automatic or guaranteed about it, there is some significant empowerment to hope for within those institutions. The real question is, How can these hopes be realized?Ensuring that modern institutions will not simply revictimize battered women requires difficult political and consciousness-raising work--work of the sort that is already taking place in the shelter movement. Taking domestic violence as a case study makes clear Foucault's point that the shift from pre-modern to modern power does not involve automatic or straightforwardprogress toward greater freedom. Invasive tactics of modern power can be, and often are, highly stultifying and oppressive, as battered women's experiences with the law and the medical establishment often attest. Yet at the same time, battered women's struggles within modem institutions demonstrate that it would be vastly oversimplified and inaccurateto suppose that disciplinary practices, by their very nature, lead inevitably to such results. There are ways of creating toeholds within modern institutions, starting points from which batteredwomen from a variety of backgrounds, with a variety of needs, can enter into a process of empowerment and begin to achieve degrees of freedom unimaginable from within the pre-modern configurations of power prevailing in their abusive relationships. Shelters and advocacy programs that are responsive to the many different voices and needs of batteredwomen are well equipped to support and advance an arrayof oppositional strategies that resist and destabilize the norms that pathologize and revictimize survivors of domestic violence. DepartmentofPhilosophy University Michigan of

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