VAW Social Change Resource Center

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Cultural Supports for Violence Against Women

      Society is designed to organize people’s lives.  Violence against women is tolerated as normal in societies built to benefit some people and not others.  Over our lifetime we adapt to our society’s expectations of us.  We find our place in society through

    stories, traditions, and rituals that teach us what behaviors

        are valued

  ●  arts, language, and fads that create, reflect, and challenge

        those values. 

  ●  cultural tools such as institutions and agencies of the state

        that define and then enforce what is ‘normal’.     

  belief systems that give us excuses for violence, abuse,

        power, and  privilege.


      We are interested in thinking critically about how societies are organized.  We encourage activists to examine what causes violence and understand how those causes are connected through systems of oppression and privilege.

  We support activist strategies for resisting cultures of dominance!

Education models, training materials and readings are welcome.

Excuses & Justifications for Violence

Access Rights

Fear & need for dominance


Hierarchy (right to violence)


             The Culture of Power

Paul Kivel explains how cultural neutrality masks cultures of power and how to assess a

culture of power.  2000




             Tactics of Oppression and Challenging Privilege

                          Social Change Resource Center




             The Spiral of Violence

Archbishop Helder Camara's treatise on the violence of poverty, revolt, and repression.

Urges justice to balance privilege and oppression. 1971


Tools for Social Control


             Power and Control Tools

                          Social Change Resource Center

Valuing  Violence










             Choosing Our Words: The Dilemma of Gender-Neutral Language

Language is power!  Red Crowley talks about the every day pressure to alter and shape

language when speaking to those in power.  From Men Stopping Violence, 2001




             Building Human Rights through Popular Culture

                          Intro to Breakthrough, Inc. using human rights to connect to social justice.  Media project,

DV Video.








             Pornography and Sexual Violence

Robert Jensen asks “Is pornography implicated in sexual violence in this culture?”  VAWnet

article with Brief.  2004



Violence as a Tool

Tools for Violence



             Colonization and Violence Against Women

Val Kalei Kanuha discusses colonization and patriarchy in the context of Asian and Pacific

cultures.  Pp.  7-11, n.d.




             Beauty … And the Beast of Advertising

Jean Kilbourne connects how treatment of women in advertising as artificial/sex objects

influences sexual attitudes. 1990


             Welfare and Domestic Violence Against Women: Lessons from Research

Eleanor Lyon summarizes research on the connections between poverty, public assistance,

employment, and violence against women.  Includes aspects of advocacy.  VAWnet article, 2002




Gender Roles




             Center for Media Literacy

                          Pages of tools, resources, best practices!


             Sexpot Virgins: The Media's Sexualization of Young Girls

Gigi Durham discusses corporate media’s sexual objectification of girls.  Recommendations for

how girls can fight back. Tana Ganeva 2008



Strategies for Change

Critical Thinking


             Fairy Tales and Gender Roles

7th grade lesson plan for analyzing the role of fairy tales in defining gender roles.  Marcella



                The Control Game

A Reference Guide for Recognizing Political/Social Control Tactics by Power Brokers, Large Corporations, Public Relations Firms, and Government Entities.  By EIN, 1997.






             Organizing for Social Change

                          Social Change Resource Center


Challenging Personal Privilege


             Screams from Somewhere Else

                                TIME essay urging public response to screams. Roger Rosenblatt, 1987


                Challenging Privilege

                                Social Change Resource Center





Undermining Oppression


             Community Accountability

Principles, concerns, strategies, and models for accountability when working on violence

against women of color.  Working Document by INCITE!  activists, 2003


             Inside/Out: Democratic Participation and Economic Justice in Our Own Organizations

Suzanne Pharr challenges how we are working toward social change and lists suggestions for

democratic participation within our organizations.  2008

Social Change Resource Center © 2007,  Afterwords, Inc.



Introduction to Social Change

Reflections on Social Change

  Cultural Supports

  Oppression & Privilege

  Questions of Research


Strategies for Action

  Activist Writings



Domestic Violence


  Power & Control Tools



                          Extensive list of academic definitions.


             Culture: What It Is, Who Owns It, Claims It, Changes It

Sujata Warrier argues that western understandings of culture serve as a strategy of

colonization.  Definitions of culture and cultural positions.  For the Asian and Pacific

Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, n.d.


             What is Culture?

                          Popular definitions as shared meaning and behavioral rules.