Enduring Themes and Silences in Media Portrayals of Violence Against Women
48 Women Studies International Forum: 103-113, 2015
Posted: 30 Jan 2015 Last revised: 28 Sep 2018
Date Written: January 15, 2015
This paper looks at different ways of conceptualising the influence of media with respect to its potential to reinforce or transform public opinion about violence against women. We engage the question of whether media portrayals of the issue are essentially conservative and how this conservatism may be communicated behind a mask of factual objectivity and through brief and simplistic narratives. Our sample of the relevant research literature shows that by using several framing techniques, the ‘reality’ of family violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment is constructed via a recurrent theme of mutuality of responsibility for the violence. Such reportage may obstruct the feminist understanding of these harms as gendered and reflective of male dominance, sexism and misogyny. It also may impede and delay feminist aims of better ensuring women’s safety from violence and of improving victims’ access to justice.
Keywords: Media portrayal, violence against women, media framing
JEL Classification: K19
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