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Before prevention: The trajectory and tensions of feminist antiviolence

Gendered Perspectives on Conflict and Violence: Part B

ISBN: 978-1-78350-893-8

Publication date: 18 June 2014



This chapter introduces a conceptual schema with which the authors chart the historical trajectory of four realms of feminist antiviolence efforts in the United States, describing strains and tensions between and within each realm, with a particular focus on the efficacy of violence prevention.


We draw on feminist theory and empirical studies of antiviolence efforts as well as our own interview and ethnographic research into violence prevention.


This chapter charts a four-part schema for understanding the trajectory of feminist engagements with violence against women. It theorizes that the segmentation of feminist antiviolence has given rise to a variety of tensions within realms that could be resolved or mitigated by reconnecting the realms.

Practical implications

In the face of growing objections to their handling of sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence, the military, colleges, and other institutions have touted their violence prevention programs. While these programs serve as a testament to over forty years of feminist efforts to institutionalized antiviolence policies and practices, without a holistic feminist approach, violence prevention functions as little more than public relations.


The chapter is of use for scholars thinking about violence against women and gender-based violence, as well as institutions that set policy around issues of violence.




We would like to thank Tal Peretz for his work on the research project into men's engagement with antiviolence feminism that we draw on in this chapter. We are also grateful for the support of the New Directions fellowships provided by the Center for Feminist Research at the University of Southern California.


Greenberg, M.A. and Messner, M.A. (2014), "Before prevention: The trajectory and tensions of feminist antiviolence", Gendered Perspectives on Conflict and Violence: Part B (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 18B), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 225-249.



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