Media representation of male rape victims

Jamel, Joanna (2014) Media representation of male rape victims. In: Survivors UK Conference: Developing a collaborative voice- Sharing practice and learning around male sexual violation; 13 Sep 2014, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)


In this paper, the content of English language newspaper articles from countries such as Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States and South Africa from 1986 to 2004 was examined. Thus, pre and post the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 in England and Wales which legally recognised the rape of male victims. The newspaper analysis focused on the gender of rape victims, journalists and narrative style (judgmental, sympathetic or myth-laden). The key findings were (i) that male rape victims are treated more sympathetically than female rape victims who have historically been described using a myth-laden and judgemental narrative style by the press) at a parallel time frame regarding the level of social and academic awareness of the phenomenon of male rape; (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. These findings suggest that lessons may have been learned as a result of feminist criticisms of past misrepresentations and stereotypical portrayals of the female rape victim in the press hence a more sensitive approach is now being taken by print journalists. The televisual and film media’s portrayal of male rape victimisation with illustrative examples will also be critically considered. Posing the question, as to why it is so unusual to see a depiction of adult male sexual violation on our screens? Particularly, when considering the frequency of the portrayal of adult female sexual victimisation which may be contributing to a normalisation of this type of crime.

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