Gender-based violence in discourse . A comparative study on anti-violence communication initiatives across Europe, in Austria and Spain

Birgit Wolf


Considering the efforts to resolve the widespread societal phenomenon of violence against women, awareness-raising and the role of the media comprise one of the key targets by the most important international agreements to combat it. The women’s anti-violence movement since the 1970s has made essential contributions to the recognition of violence against women as a human rights violation and is a crucial player in the field of violence prevention. Its anti-violence initiatives are of major importance. Looking at the media in general, we can observe how different programmes and formats depict similar (visual) narratives of clichéd imagination on intimate partner violence, whereas the systemic nature of the problem mostly remains hidden (Bonilla Campos, 2008; Boyle, 2005; Geiger, 2008; López Díez, 2005; Taylor, 2009; Wolf, 2013a, b). This lack of clarity is hindering the comprehension of gender-based violence as a societal phenomenon.

The imagery disseminated by the women’s anti-violence movement and institutionalised entities constitutes the core subject of this article, in order to obtain insights into the supposed alternative representations appropriate to contrast the ‘malestream’ media on the subject. Their contributions to visual discourse through European-wide, Spanish and Austrian anti-violence initiatives are analysed from 2007 to 2011 - before the Istanbul Convention came into force. As the social roots and the transposition of the complexity of gender-based violence constitute a rather ambiguous undertaking, the analysis aims to disclose how anti-violence initiatives shape the social accounts of male-to-female partner violence, identifying good practice examples and underlying ideological concepts. 


audio-visual media; visual discourse; violence against women; gender-based violence; prevention; campaigns

Full Text:



ABRAMSKY, T.; WATTS, C.H.; GARCIA-MORENO, C.; DEVRIES, K.; KISS, L.; ELLSBERG, M.; JANSEN, H.A.F.M. and HEISE, L. (2011). “What factors are associated with recent intimate partner violence? Findings from the WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence”. BMC Public Health, 11 (109).

ADELMAN, M. (2008). “The ‘Culture’ of the Global Anti–Gender Violence Social Movement”. America Anthropologist, 110 (4), 511-522.

ALMANSA, A. and POSTIGO, I. (2003). Medios de comunicación y violencia de género: Análisis del tratamiento informativo en el caso español. Violence and Media: Resources and Discourses. II International Conference, Communication and Reality. Barcelona: Facultat de Ciències de la Comunicació Blanquerna, Universitat Ramon LLull.

BARNETT, O.W.; MILLER-PERRIN, C.L. and PERRIN, R.D. (2011). Family Violence across the Lifespan. An Introduction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

BERLANGA FERNÁNDEZ, I. (2011). “Comunicación audiovisual y mujer: evolución y nuevos formatos en las campañas publicitarias de violencia de género”. Icono14, 9 (1), 145-160.

BERNÁRDEZ, A.; GARCÍA, I. and GONZÁLEZ, S. (2008). Violencia de género en el cine español. Análisis de los años 1998 a 2002 y guía didáctica. Madrid: Complutense.

BONILLA CAMPOS, A. (2008). “Género, identidades y violencia”. In: MINISTERIO DE IGUALDAD. Imaginario cultural, construcción de identidades de género y violencia: formación para la igualdad en la adolescencia. Madrid: Instituto de la Mujer, 15-34. [Online] [Date consulted: 06/03/18].

BOURDIEU, P. (2001). Masculine Domination. California: Stanford University Press.

BOYLE, K. (2005). Media and Violence. Gendering the Debates. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

BYERLY, C.M. and ROSS, K. (2006). Women and Media: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

CONSELL DE L’AUDIOVISUAL DE CATALUNYA (2011). El tractament de les informacions sobre violència en l’àmbit familiar i sobre violència masclista en els teleinformatius. Octubre - desembre de 2010. Informe IST2 / 2011. [Online] Servei d’Anàlisi de Continguts. [Date consulted: 13/03/18]

CAMARERO CALANDRIA, E. and MARCOS RAMOS, M. (2012). “A preliminary study on the receipt of the television campaigns about violence of gender realized by the Ministry of Health, Social Politics and Equality (2008-2011)”. Investigaciones feministas: papeles de estudios de mujeres, feministas y de género, 3, 181-202.

CARTER, C. and WEAVER, C.K. (2003). Violence and the Media. Buckingham, Philadelphia: Open University Press.

CASTILLO MARTÍN, M. (2008). “La representación de las mujeres en la publicidad gráfica de las grandes marcas”. In: MINISTERIO DE IGUALDAD. Imaginario cultural, construcción de identidades de género y violencia: formación para la igualdad en la adolescencia. Madrid: Instituto de la mujer, 117-134. [Online] [Date consulted: 06/03/18].

COUNCIL of EUROPE (2011). Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. [Online] [Date consulted: 13/03/18]

DEKESEREDY, W.S. (2011). Violence Against Women. Myths, Facts, Controversies. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

DEKESEREDY, W.S.; ELLIS, D. and ALVI, S. (2005). Deviance and crime: Theory, research and policy. Cincinnati: LexisNexis.

DEKESEREDY, W.S. and SCHWARTZ, M.D. (2011). “Theoretical and definitional Issues of Violence against Women.” In: RENZETTI, C.M., EDLESON, J.L. and KENNEDY BERGEN, R. (eds.). Sourcebook on Violence Against Women. London: Sage, 3-30.

DELEUZE, G. (1989). “What is a dispositif?” In: ARMSTRONG, T.J. (ed.). Michel Foucault Philosopher. New York: Routledge, 159-168.

EITER, G. (2006). “Gewalt an Frauen im Film”. In: AEP-Informationen - Feministische Zeitschrift für Politik und Gesellschaft, 4 (33), 28-31.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION (1999). Europeans and their views on domestic violence against women. Eurobarometer, 51. Brussels: Directorate X “Information, Communication, Culture and Audiovisual Media” (Women’s Sector).

— (2010). Domestic Violence Against Women Report. Special Eurobarometer, 344. Brussels: TNS Opinion & Social, DG Justice, co-ordinated by Directorate-General Communication.

FOUCAULT, M. (1980). “The Confession of the Flesh. Interview”. In: GORDON, C. (ed.). Power/Knowledge. Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon Books, 194-228.

FRA - European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2014). Violence against women: an EU-wide survey. Main results report [online]. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. [Date consulted: 06/03/18].

FRUS, P. (2001). “Documenting domestic violence in American Films.” In: SLOCUM, J.D. (ed.). Violence and the American Cinema. London: Routledge, 245-270.

GALTUNG, J. (1990.) “Cultural Violence”. Journal of Peace Research, 27 (3), 291-305.

GÁMEZ FUENTES, M.J. and MASEDA GARCÍA, R. (eds.) (2018). Gender and Violence in Spanish Culture: From Vulnerability to Accountability. New York, Bern: Peter Lang.

GEIGER, B. (2008). „Die Herstellung von Öffentlichkeit für Gewalt an Frauen“. In: DORER, J., GEIGER, B. and KÖPL, R. (eds.). Medien-Politik-Geschlecht, Feministische Befunde zur politischen Kommunikationsforschung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 204-217.

GEIGER, B. and WOLF B. (2014). „Geschlechtsbasierte Gewalt und die Rolle von Medien“. In: AÖF (Hg.). Verantwortungsvolle Berichterstattung für ein gewaltfreies Leben. Anregungen zur medialen Prävention von Gewalt an Frauen und ihren Kindern. Wien, 8-26.

GUARINOS, V. (2003). “Violencia de género y cine”. In: INSTITUTO ANDALUZ DE LA MUJER / FUNDACIÓN AUDIOVISUAL DE ANDALUCÍA (eds.). Medios de comunicación y violencia de género contra las mujeres. Sevilla: J. de Haro Artes Gráficas, 77-81.

HAYES, R.M. and LUTHER, K. (2018). “#Notallmen: Media and Crime Victimization.” In: #Crime. Palgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

HESTER, M. and LILLEY, S-J. (2014). Preventing Violence Against Women: Article 12 of the Istanbul Convention: A collection of papers on the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

HUNNICUTT, G. (2009). “Varieties of Patriarchy and Violence Against Women: Resurrecting ‘Patriarchy’ as a Theoretical Tool”. Violence Against Women, 15 (5), 553-573.

JÄGER, S. and MAIER, F. (2009). “Theoretical and Methodological Aspects of Foucauldian Critical Discourse Analysis and Dispositive Analysis”. In: WODAK, R. and MEYER, M. (eds.). Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Sage Publications, 34-61.

JIMÉNEZ VÍLCHEZ, T. (2003). “Por unos medios de comunicación sensibilizados contra la violencia de género”. In: INSTITUTO ANDALUZ DE LA MUJER / FUNDACIÓN AUDIOVISUAL DE ANDALUCÍA (ed.). Medios de comunicación y violencia de género contra las mujeres. Sevilla: J. de Haro Artes Gráficas, 53-60.

LÓPEZ DÍEZ, P. (2005). 2º Informe de la investigación: Representación de género en los informativos de radio y televisión. Madrid: Instituto oficial de Radio y Televisión, Instituto de la Mujer. Ministerio de Igualdad, 15-34.

MACHARIA, S. (2015). Who makes the news? Global Media Monitoring Project 2015. London: World Association for Christian Communication (WACC). [Online] [Date consulted: 10/09/18]

MAASEN, S.; MAYERHAUSER, T. and RENGGLI, C. (2006). Bilder als Diskurse – Bilddiskurse. Weilerswist: Velbrück Wissenschaft.

MARIN, F.; ARMENTIA, J.I. and CAMINOS, J. (2011). “El tratamiento informativo de las víctimas de violencia de género en Euskadi: Deia, El Correo, El País y Gara (2002-2009)”. Comunicación y Sociedad, XXIV (2), 435-466.

MERSCH, D. (2004). „Medialität und Undarstellbarkeit. Einleitung in eine „negative“ Medientheorie“. In: KRÄMER, Sybille (ed.). Performitivität und Medialität. Wilhelm Fink Verlag: München, 75-96.

MEYERS, M. (1997). News coverage of violence against women: Engendering the blame. London: Sage Publications.

MILLER, M.; RAUCH, J. and KAPLAN, T. (2016). “Gender Differences in Movie Superheroes: Roles, Appearances, and Violence”. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, 10.

MULVEY, L. (1975). “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”. Screen 16 (3), 6-18.

RENNER, M. (2009). Öffentlichkeitsarbeit gegen Gewalt an Frauen. Hindernisse, Notwendigkeiten und Umsetzungsstrategien für Frauenhäuser. Diplomarbeit. Universität Wien.

ROSE, G. (2001). Visual Methodologies. An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage Publications.

SAUER, B. (2011). “Migration, Geschlecht, Gewalt. Überlegungen zu einem intersektionellen Gewaltbegriff“. Gender, Zeitschrift für Geschlecht, Kultur und Gesellschaft, 3 (2), 44-60.

SCHROEDER, J.E. and BORGERSON, J.L. (1998). “Marketing images of gender: A visual analysis”. Consumption Markets & Culture, 2 (2), 161-201.

SELVA, M. and SOLÀ, A. (2003). “Publicidad y Violencia de Género.” In: INSTITUTO ANDALUZ DE LA MUJER / FUNDACIÓN AUDIOVISUAL DE ANDALUCÍA (ed.). Medios de comunicación y violencia de género contra las mujeres. Sevilla: J. de Haro Artes Gráficas, 85-88.

TATE, S. (2011). Symbolic Violence: not just ‘a bit of fun’. Conference Paper at Gendered Violence Conference, Bristol, November 24. [Unpublished].

TAYLOR, R. (2009). “Slain and Slandered. A Content Analysis of the Portrayal of Femicide in Crime News”. Homicide Studies, 13 (1), 21-49.

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY (2006). In-depth study on all forms of violence against women. Report of the Secretary-General, 6 July 2006, A/61/122/Add.1. [Online] [Date consulted: 15/05/18]

UN WOMEN (Undated). Campaigns. The virtual knowledge centre to end violence against women. [Online] [Date consulted: 15/05/18]

UNIFEM - UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT FUND FOR WOMEN (2003). Making a Difference: Strategic Communications to End Violence Against Women. A toolkit from the UNIFEM Strategic Communications Workshop Series. [Online] [Date consulted: 02/04/18]

WEIß, A. (2005). Kampagnen gegen Gewalt an Frauen und die Frauenbewegung. Eine Analyse anhand der Kampagne von Amnesty International, den 16 Tagen gegen Gewalt, der Europäischen Kampagne gegen Gewalt in Ehe und Partnerschaft, der White Ribbon Österreich Kampagne und des Netzwerks WAVE/des Projekts DAPHNE. Diplomarbeit. Vienna: University of Vienna.

WHEELER, D. (2009). “The representation of domestic violence in popular English-language cinema”. New Cinemas (Journal of Contemporary Film), 7 (2), 155-175.

WOLF, B. (2013a). “Gender-based violence and the challenge for visual representation”. Comunicació: Revista de Recerca i d’Anàlisi, 30 (1), 193-216.

— (2013b). ‘Shaping the visual’ of gender-based violence. How visual discourse on intimate partner violence and European anti-violence initiatives construct accounts of the social world. [Doctoral Thesis]. Barcelona: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. [Date consulted: 30/06/2018]

ZOONEN, L. van (2002). Feminist Media Studies. London: Sage Publications.

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM
Copyright (c) 2018 Birgit Wolf