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Monsters, playboys, virgins and whores: Rape myths in the news media’s coverage of sexual violence

Monsters, playboys, virgins and whores: Rape myths in the news media’s coverage of sexual violence Much of the news media’s coverage of sexual violence perpetuates myths and stereotypes about rape, rapists and rape victims (Burt, 1980). This is troubling, as the news media shapes public opinion about rape (Soothill, 1991) and can affect policy-making, not to mention the running of the legal system itself (Emmers-Sommer et al., 2006: 314). The news media frequently portray rapists using monster imagery (Barnett, 2008; Mason and Monckton-Smith, 2008; Soothill et al., 1990), their victims classed either as ‘virgins’ attacked by these so-called ‘monsters’ or instead as promiscuous women who invited the rape (Benedict, 1992). These depictions can impact upon public opinion as the more frequently rape myths are used, the more accessible they become. This can be harmful to rape victims when individuals who subscribe to these myths are involved in the criminal justice system (Franiuk et al., 2008: 304–305). Through a lexical analysis of the newspaper coverage surrounding three news events gathered from three LexisNexis searches, this article assesses the use of rape myths within the British and American news media’s reporting of such violence. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Language and Literature SAGE

Monsters, playboys, virgins and whores: Rape myths in the news media’s coverage of sexual violence

Language and Literature , Volume 21 (3): 13 – Aug 1, 2012

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References (16)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2012
ISSN
0963-9470
eISSN
1461-7293
DOI
10.1177/0963947012444217
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Much of the news media’s coverage of sexual violence perpetuates myths and stereotypes about rape, rapists and rape victims (Burt, 1980). This is troubling, as the news media shapes public opinion about rape (Soothill, 1991) and can affect policy-making, not to mention the running of the legal system itself (Emmers-Sommer et al., 2006: 314). The news media frequently portray rapists using monster imagery (Barnett, 2008; Mason and Monckton-Smith, 2008; Soothill et al., 1990), their victims classed either as ‘virgins’ attacked by these so-called ‘monsters’ or instead as promiscuous women who invited the rape (Benedict, 1992). These depictions can impact upon public opinion as the more frequently rape myths are used, the more accessible they become. This can be harmful to rape victims when individuals who subscribe to these myths are involved in the criminal justice system (Franiuk et al., 2008: 304–305). Through a lexical analysis of the newspaper coverage surrounding three news events gathered from three LexisNexis searches, this article assesses the use of rape myths within the British and American news media’s reporting of such violence.

Journal

Language and LiteratureSAGE

Published: Aug 1, 2012

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