Fletcher, G. 2014. “Just HOW Do We Create Change?”

Fletcher, Gillian. 2014. “Just How Do We Create Change?: Sites of Contradiction and the ‘Black Box’ of Change in Primary Prevention.” In Preventing Sexual Violence: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Overcoming a Rape Culture, edited by Nicola Henry and Anastasia Powell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Pp. 127-149.

Violence as act, symptoms of larger social issues; the ways that we frame determinants of violence are not necessarily causes of violence itself. Gender thus becomes not a static trait, but a dynamic process.

“Processes of gender are, in one sense, non-discriminatory. Every body (whatever the sex of that body) is subject to the social and cultural processes of gendered meaning-making, judgment, and hierarchy. No one escapes from the norms, stereotypes, expectations, and judgments that individuals, societies, and society-wide systems apply to the ‘who, what, why, when, where and how’ of living in a sexed body. Nor can a body avoid the costs and benefits attached to transgressing – or conforming to- these norms, stereotypes, expectations and judgments, as any man perceived as being ‘effeminate’ or any woman perceived as being ‘masculine’ will attest. Yet much primary prevention work is built around the delivery of facts of violence against women and not around focusing on processes that might help people to identify, and begin to shift, the ways in which gender processes affect all of our lives” (134).

Many approaches to delivering facts presumes personal prior knowledge about unequal gender relations, and that the delivery of these facts will somehow change the judgments that people make (and hierarchies they serve) regarding gender processes.

Bystander intervention programs work to address specific instances of violence and abuse, however, do not call into question more pervasive issues of gender discrimination or sexism – focusing on specific outcomes of these larger social patterns.

The complex realities of gender cannot be purposefully engineered, but are results of the multiple intertwining factors that impact this structure and process – requires “purposeful, emergent action” (Ortiz and Giles 2010:88) – therefore, must be flexible, adaptable, specific to the contexts of each situation, rather than having fixed prescriptions that presume the address and catch-up of emotional and social codes.


Ortiz, A.A. and J.C.M. Giles. 2010. “A ‘Systemic Theories of Change’ Approach for Purposeful Capacity Development.” IDS Bulletin 43(3):87-99.


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