Do the print media provide a gender-biased representation of male rape victims?

Jamel, Joanna (2014) Do the print media provide a gender-biased representation of male rape victims? Internet Journal of Criminology, pp. 1-13. ISSN (online) 2045-6743


The current qualitative study focuses on the print media and its representation of male rape. Male rape victim-focused newspaper articles were identified using the Lexis Nexis Executive database. The content of these English language newspaper articles were analysed regarding the gender of victims and journalists. Discourse analysis was used to identify the narrative style (judgmental, sympathetic or myth-laden). The newspaper articles were from regional and national newspapers from countries such as Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States and South Africa. The period covered by these articles was from 1986 to 2004, thus pre and post the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 in England and Wales which was the legal definition of rape used in this study. The key findings are (i) that male rape victims are treated more sympathetically than female rape victims who have historically been described using a myth-laden and judgmental narrative style by the press) at a parallel time frame regarding the level of social and academic awareness of the phenomenon of male rape (thirty years ago), (ii) that the term 'rape victim' is treated as inherently female and (iii) the gender of the reporter did not influence the narrative style of the article. It is suggested that this may be due to lessons learned as a result of feminist criticisms of past misrepresentations and stereotypical portrayals of female rape victim in the press hence a more sensitive approach is now being taken by print journalists.

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