POST 7: Issue mapping

Collaborative mapping has the capacity to negotiate ambiguity, complexity and dynamics in the relationship between members of a team encourages new and insightful outcomes. I was able to experience this notion when mapping gender equality and female empowerment in class. My partner had a totally different approach to the issue of gender equality focusing primarily on the gender pay gap. While I am consumed by the destructive part sexism and misogyny plays in women’s empowerment. These divergent views are clear in our collaborative issue maps on abortion, as my partner and were concerned with totally different values. For instance, I was fixated on the emotional response of victims and the education of sexual health and safety in schools. While, my partner reminded me to consider the governmental factors and abortion policies. Encouraging me to think more broadly about illegal abortions in New South Wales.

Issue map: Illegal abortion in NSW

The map above covers the motivations, emotions and actors that directly affect the stakeholders. Examining and highlighting the many different influences that contributes to New South Wale’s illegal abortion policy. On the left my partner and I have mapped the importance of sexual education, in order to avoid early or unwanted pregnancies. However, on the right we provided a more factual map of the strict governmental policies that are in place. From the map I was able to conclude that the motivations surrounded issues linking with the government; Actors lie within the organisations and institutions; and emotions surround the physical motivations (i.e. sexual assault and domestic violence). Identifying that with the education provided by the actors, women will have a greater chance of avoiding unwanted pregnancies. However, are unable to have a freedom of choice, due to existing motivator’s and stakeholders (abortion policy, sexual abuse and safe sex).


After exploring the illegal abortion policy in New South Wales my partner and I then delve deeper into the issue and began to map the polemics involved. By re-evaluating the polemic map I found a pattern around the words ‘aggression’ and ‘oppression’, which made me consider why these words have been so popular and what do they communicate about gender equality. I found that both words have been categorised as gendered words, aggression relating primarily to men and oppression revolving around women. I found this observation interesting and began coining sentences that better communicate these gendered words:

  • A man resorts to sexism (polemic) as an aggressive (emotion) defence (motivation)
  • An oppressed (emotion) woman obeys traditional (motivation) gender stereotypes (polemic)

When stringing these sentences together I began to notice how contemporary society has slowly begun to destroy these gendered roles. Through empowerment and equality men and women have been taught not to succumb to such belligerent expectations.


My partner and I then grouped up with another four class members, providing a much more collaborative mapping process. By drawing connections between the previous mapping exercises, our group decided to explore controversial issues and actors surround rape culture. This issue sparked a powerful discussion involving a lot of passion and emotion, offering new coinciding and conflicting perspectives. Which then lead us to conduct interviews with objects that have a direct effect on the issue. By interviewing alcohol I was able to outline the effects that it has on the victim and the perpetrator, ultimately identifying its contribution to the issue at large.

Effects of alcohol and social media

Collaborative issue mapping provided me with new ways of observing, encouraging me to analyse subjects (such as alcohol) that I would usually dismiss when exploring issues relating to rape culture and gender equality. By exploring these issues from a different angle I am able to progress and expand my understanding of the issue.


Written by Zara Hartwig

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