The Archers, The Radio, Violence against Women and Changing the World at Teatime
Feminists working on Violence Against Women (VAW) have often been disappointed by the failure of law to produce profound change. Ill-informed and stereotypical views about VAW held by judges, lawyers, law enforcement officers, those in the media and the general public have undermined laws intended to tackle violence including domestic violence. As a consequence, VAW activists have sought new methods to shift the public discourse and facilitate the operation of the law. This article examines how campaigners used a highly publicised storyline on coercive control in the long running BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers to circulate feminist knowledge on domestic violence. It discusses the reasons for the success of the activists on this occasion and reflects on the potential of popular culture combined with other forms of activism to embed feminist understandings of VAW and enhance the effectiveness of the law. It argues that popular culture can influence not only the legal professionals and others responsible for implementing and applying the law, but the broader public consciousness of domestic violence and VAW.
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