Representations of women in the media
One article specifically about sex workers in Vancouver and the press, and one about historical representations of aboriginals in Canadian press; both may be useful for background.
“Violence and the Outlaw Status of (Street) Prostitution in Canada.” Violence Against Women. 6.9 (2000): 987 – 1011.
Implicates the Vancouver Sun as a contributor to a “discourse of disposal” in the early 1980s in BC that may have helped create a climate in which sex trade workers could be killed with impunity. No example articles, however. Perhaps useful as a pre-Pickton backdrop (also has statistics about sex trade in Vancouver, overview of responses to disappearance of women).
“Historical Representations of Aboriginal People in the Canadian News Media.” Discourse and Society. 17.2 (2006): 205 – 235.
Critical Discourse and Frame analysis of newspaper coverage of “flashpoints in the history of aboriginal-non-aboriginal relations in Canada”. Identifies three frames, and consistencies between coverage in 1860s and 1990s, which may help when considering how the aboriginality of some of Pickton’s victims is being figured in press coverage.
Two articles that provide analysis of press coverage and readers, providing very specific ideas about possible interventions.
Anastasio, Phyllis A. and Diana M. Costa
“Twice Hurt: How Newspaper Coverage May Reduce Empathy and Engender Blame for Female Victims of Crime.” Sex Roles. 51.9-10 (2004): 535 – 542.
Content Analysis to determine if victims of violent crime (not including sex crime) are identified differently vis-à-vis their gender. Also studied readers and found that the inclusion of personal info helped increase empathy for victims among male readers. Such info also reduced victim blame among both male and female readers. Therefore provides evidence for one specific feature to which one can attend when doing an intervention.
Henley, Nancy M. et al
“Syntax, Semantics, and Sexual Violence: Agency and the Passive Voice.” Journal of Language and Social Psychology. 14.1 (1995): 60 – 84.
Three studies were conducted to explore the effects of passive voice in news stories about violence against women. Found that the passive voice was more commonly used in reporting of men’s violence against women, and that male readers of stories in the active voice tended to attribute more harm and less victim blame to victims/survivors of violence. Also found that readers of both sexes exposed to stories in the passive voice were more accepting of, for example, rape myths (that women provoked their attack). Therefore provides another specific aspect of story-construction to which one can attend.
A few articles that consider interconnections of race, class, and gender in relation with violence against women:
“African American Women and Violence: Gender, Race and Class in the News.” Critical Studies in Mass Communication. 21.2 (2004): 95 – 118.
Discourse analysis of local TV coverage of an annual weekend of partying in Atlanta that tended to result in increased incidents of violence against local, African American women. Found that the press mitigated the seriousness of the crimes, and hardly paid attention to them at all. As such, the attackers’ responsibility was undermined, while factors such as the women’s dress were highlighted, increasing victim blame.
“Beauty and the Beast: Gendered and Raced Discourse in the News.” Social and Legal Studies. 14.4 (2005): 515 – 532.
Also emphasizes the importance of considering intersections of gender and race, and to a lesser degree, class, in a way that will be useful to consider when analyzing Pickton coverage. Does a discourse analysis of the murder of two young black women in Birmingham, noting the need to emphasize their innocence. Argues that this is borne of assumptions of women’s, especially women of visible minorities’, guilt.
“Saints, Sluts and Sexual Assault: Rethinking the Relationship Between Sex, Race and Gender.” Social and Legal Studies. 12.1 (2003): 77 – 103.
Not about media representations, but nonetheless interesting in its analysis of how laws discriminate not only by sex/gender, but by race as well. Provides a lengthy theoretical analysis of a large case study of sexual assault trials in Australia as she attempts to think through the different experiences of Aboriginal women complainants. Therefore provides an interesting addition to issues of media representations of violence against women.
Articles that help round out evidence of the press’s tendency to report on violence against women in manners that decrease its seriousness, increase victim blame, and otherwise perpetuate myths of femininity:
Carll, Elizabeth K.
“News Portrayals of Violence and Women: Implications for Public Policy.” American Behavioral Scientist. 46.12 (2003): 1601 – 1610.
A relatively brief and broad article that discusses more generally how news portrays women as both victims and perpetrators of violence. Suggests that such coverage in the U.S. and elsewhere only serves to help one avoid considering the reasons for such violence and suggests that more thoughtful press attention could help address these issues.
Korn, Alina and Sivan Efrat
“The Coverage of Rape in the Israeli Popular Press.” Violence Against Women. 10.9 (2004): 1056 – 1074.
Examines two rape cases in the daily Israeli popular press. Finds that in both cases the sexual history of the women was emphasized, perpetuating myths about women’s inability to be raped if they have ever had consensual sex. Notes the tendency to air the defendants’ sides far more than the victims, and suggest that the lurid details were used to help sell newspapers.
“The War Against Women: Media Representations of Men’s Violence Against Women in Australia.” Violence Against Women. 3.1 (1997): 59 – 75
Examines the Melbourne-published paper, The Age’s 1993 series about violence against women. Relatively brief in its analysis of how the coverage emphasized such violence as aberrant, something in which women can acquiesce, and undermined feminist analyses to the contrary.
Michelle, Carolyn and C. Kay Weaver
“Discursive Manoeuvres and Hegemonic
Recuperations in New Zealand Documentary Representations of Domestic Violence.” Feminist Media Studies. 3.3 (2003): 283 – 299.
Examination of documentaries made in connection with a NZ campaign to raise public awareness of domestic violence. However, notes numerous ways in which these documentaries mitigated men’s responsibility while increasing that of women, and also tended to skirt issues of the social roots of men’s violence against women.
“Perfect Mother or Artist of Obscenity? Narrative and Myth in a Qualitative Analysis of Press Coverage of the Andrea Yates Murders.” Journal of Communication Inquiry. 29.1 (2005): 9 – 29.
Narrative analysis of press coverage of Yates’s drowning of her five children. Identifies two main narrative and sub-themes, arguing throughout that the coverage reinforced myths about women’s natural predisposition to care taking. Also suggests that issues of post-partum depression were largely avoided. Therefore provides an interesting counter-point to articles in which women are victims, as Barnett still finds a persistent reinforcement of ideas about women’s proper roles and behavior.
General Feminist Media Resources in Canada
Mahtani, Minelle. 2005. “Gendered News Practices: The Experiences of Women Journalists in Different National Contexts” in Allan, Stuart (ed). Journalism: Critical Issues. London: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill publishers. Pp. 299-310.
Mahtani, Minelle. 2001. “Mapping the Meanings of “Racism” and “Feminism” among Women Television Broadcast Journalists in Canada” in Twine, France Winddance and Kathleen Blee (eds). Feminism and Anti-Racism: International Struggles. New York: New York University Press. Pp. 349-366.