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"Take what you want and leave the rest" : Alcoholics Anonymous and female empowerment
Bond, Lindsay M.
Mattingly, Doreen JLara, IreneWheeler, Mark
ix, 87 pages
The literature that affirms the value of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for women is scarce. Feminist critics have largely argued AA is oppressive, male-dominated, and places women in yet another patriarchal institution. Yet one-third of AA's membership is comprised of women. Despite the feminist criticisms, women find healing, recovery, and empowerment within AA. Previous scholarship has almost entirely failed to account for the heuristic knowledge of women in AA and to value and honor their lived experience. Through in-depth interviews with ten diverse women, this qualitative study seeks to bring academic discourse around AA into conversation with the voices and experiences of women in AA. The goal of this study is not to refute prior feminist criticisms, but to question how women in AA navigate and negotiate the contradictions found within a male-dominated and male-centered program. I do not argue women in AA attempt to claim the title of feminist, but I do claim their recovery experiences are empowering and a generative site of feminist theory. Employing the use of grounded theory, the study found three themes. The first theme is AA as a program of paradox, whereby women navigate the paradoxical language of AA to generate healing. They dis-empower the self in order to empower it. The second theme is AA as a program of malleability in which women adapt and reappropriate the androcentric language to aid in their recovery. The final theme is community among women in AA. They employ various strategies, such as the creation of women-only spaces, to form female relations and bonds in order to foster healing and empowerment.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 79-82).
Arts and Letters
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2013
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