Our Watch

Skip to content

The media’s role in preventing violence against women

As former Australian of the year Rosie Batty said, “the media is uniquely placed to stop violence before it starts”. 

What drives violence against women?

While there is no single ‘cause’ of violence against women, evidence shows that there are four key drivers1: 

Condoning violence

Comments, questions and jokes that downplay or justify violence against women are still very common and are often not treated seriously. Attitudes, words and actions that trivialise, make light of or justify violence against women allow people to think violence is acceptable or excusable. 

Inequality between women and men

Women continue to earn less than men, are under-represented in political and workplace leadership roles and perform the majority of domestic labour. When men control decisions and resources, in the home or in public, they have an opportunity to abuse their power, while women have less power to stop it, call it out, or leave. 

Gender stereotypes

Common ideas of how men and women ‘should’ act influence the types of roles they are expected to fulfill. Gender norms can be particularly harmful for women, as traditional female roles are commonly less valued. When male power is the norm, violence, including harassment and verbal abuse, can be used to ‘punish’ women who step outside of their expected roles. 

Disrespect towards women

For some men, making jokes and comments that reinforce the idea that women should be less powerful than them is a way of bonding and gaining the approval and respect of their peers. When aggression and disrespect towards women are seen as part of being ‘one of the boys’, it is more likely that violence towards women will be excused. 

To learn more about the gendered drivers of violence, read Change the story and Change the picture or watch the Change the story video below.

What can the media do?

The media can address widespread condoning of violence against women by reporting accurately, safely and respectfully. Learn about reporting on violence against women. 

The media can also address gender inequality, gender stereotypes and disrespect towards women through their content and in their workplaces. Learn about about how the media can promote gender equality. 

Find out more about the Our Watch Award for excellence in reporting on violence against women and children

Past winners and how to apply
Two public figures Angela Pippos and Julie Zemiro stand close together in front of a projector screen with the Our Watch Awards logo displayed. They are both looking at the camera and smiling.