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Good Girls Bad Girls: the Paradox of Femininity PowerPoint Presentation
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Good Girls Bad Girls: the Paradox of Femininity

Good Girls Bad Girls: the Paradox of Femininity

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Good Girls Bad Girls: the Paradox of Femininity

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  1. DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY Good Girls Bad Girls: the Paradox of Femininity SOCI0067: Crime and the Media Lecture 7 Dr. L. Cho, PhD E-mail: Lifcho@gmail.com

  2. Crime News a Staple Feature of News Media Media scholars show high levels of interest in crime coverage Studied crime from various angles Studying gender of victims and criminals is often a secondary interest

  3. Why Study Gender in Crime News Systematically observe gender politics Demonstrate power relations of various members of society “Who gets away with what against whom”

  4. Why Study Gender in Crime News • Crime coverage studied within patriarchal context in which it is produced and consumed • Where some images of crime and gender are selected over others Source: http://www.abc3340.com/news/stories/0209/593425.html

  5. Media Portrayal of Women Compared to Men Best to look at gender in relation to each other Can understand one better when looking at the other

  6. Women Over Represented as Victims of Crime Women featured in news coverage of crime are typically over represented as victims of crime Studies show that TV news and newspapers over-represent male criminality and victimization of women

  7. Women in Crime News Mostly Appear as Victims Most studies concentrate on portrayal of their victimization Media construction: Male are aggressive, female are passive Victimized women don’t pose a threat to patriarchal ideology Reinforces hegemonic discourses of gender

  8. HK Crime Stats • Over 90% of offenders identified were male • About 70% of victims were male Source: Broadhurst (1999) as presented in http://www.crime.hku.hk/rb-homicide.htm

  9. Sex of Offender and Victim NEWS REPORTS 55.1% Female victim 47.3% Male victim POLICE STATS 38.6% Female victim 61.4% Male victim Source: Naylor, B. (2001). Reporting violence in the British print media: Gendered stories. The Howard Journal, 40/2. 180-194.

  10. Construction of Female Victims Their difference/ otherness takes centre stage Contradiction: women likely to be blamed because they are victims and likely to be blamed because they are perpetrator

  11. Women Bear Responsibility for the Act of Others Blamed when child does wrong Blamed for being too protective Blamed for not paying enough attention Blamed for being a bad example

  12. Women Portrayed as Victims of Rape Crime Media portrayal: characteristics Cast women as being responsible for her own victimization Consistent with broader social response Jodie Foster plays Sara Tobias who was Raped by 3 men While male spectators Stood by and cheered http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo3XcNgYbTs

  13. Classic Example of Rape Crime Coverage Portrayal of Women Portrayal of Men Men portrayed not as average guy Portrayed as someone mentally deranged or a monster, often a stranger • Women provoked their own rape • Wearing sexy clothes • Putting themselves at risk • Went bar hopping and other dangerous places Thelma and Louise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRr0HY9MPZ0

  14. Stranger Danger Myth Research shows 1/3 sexual assaults in U.S. involves a stranger 2/3 involves someone they know

  15. Homicide Registry in HK (1989 to 1997) In Hong Kong over 1/3 homicide involve stranger Nearly ½ involve someone they know Source: Broadhurst (1999) as presented in http://www.crime.hku.hk/rb-homicide.htm

  16. Rape Portrayed as Sexual Event Violence and coercion typically minimized or ignored Victim’s account usually not present, except that she misunderstood his friendliness Offender portrayed as having misunderstood victim’s behaviour

  17. Stereotypes of Women Three basic types: Hysterical Promiscuous Manipulative Source: http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,595087821,00.html?pg=3

  18. Acquittal Gets Headlines Studies show: • Acquittal of rape charge attracts headlines • Conviction is buried in the paper • Unless, offender fits “stranger danger” stereotype Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-26-bachelor-acquitted_N.htm

  19. News Report Language Example 1: In the U.S. a man rapes a woman every 6 minutes How do these statements influence your perception of crime? Example 2: In the U.S., a woman is raped by a man every 6 minutes

  20. Passive Voice Example 2: In the U.S., a woman is raped by a man every 6 minutes Tendency for men (but not women) to attribute less harm to the victim and less responsibility to the perpetrator of violence against a woman Passive voice more often used in stories about violence against woman

  21. “Right Sort” of Female Victim • Victims who lend themselves to construction of innocent and vulnerability (e.g. Susan Smith, middle-class, white, mother of two) • Marginal groups (low income, racial minorities) are difficult to be portrayed as blameless or pure • Receive less coverage and less sympathy

  22. “Right Sort” of Female Offender HK “The Milkshake Murder”: Nancy Kissel • Offenders more easily constructed as “marginal” • More news worthy • Women who commit serious offense is rare • Rarity is important news value • Women even more newsworthy when marginalized by reference to their sexuality

  23. Woman Who Commit Violent Crimes Portrayed as one or another extreme of our cultural understanding of femininity Violent women are rare Therefore, more fascinating and evil They are the “other”

  24. HK Women in Crime Stats Women generally do not commit crime More rare involve in violent crime like killing strangers or serial murders In 2002, 13% of all violent crimes allegedly committed by women (arrest data)

  25. 2007 HK Murder Offenders: Female 4 (16%) / Male 21(84%) Source: http://www.police.gov.hk/review/2005/pdf/appendix_7.pdf

  26. Sex of Offenders NEWS REPORTS 72.9% male offender 21.3% female offender POLICE STATS Homicide 88.8% Male Offender 11.2% Female Offenders Guilty or cautioned for indictable offences of violence 85.5% Male offender 14.5% Female offenders Source: Naylor (2001)

  27. Media Portrayal of Female Offenders Sexually promiscuous (vamp) Sexually inexperienced (virgin)

  28. Different Standards Applied Young Boys Young Girls Amoral and wayward Offense is over dramatized Non-criminal behaviour such as perceived sexual misconduct more likely to result in punishment for a girl • Normal delinquency

  29. News Media Portrayals of Physical Attractiveness of Offenders Male Female Source: Content analysis of UK media (news & film) from 1945 to 1990 (Reiner 1997) Few details Featured in high profile cases Unnatural, large, stocky, heavy built, Demure, pretty, attractive

  30. News Media Portrayal: Domestic Violence Case Male Female Source: Content analysis of UK media (news & film) from 1945 to 1990 (Reiner 1997) Rarely a moral implication Evaluated in relation to how well he fits into conventional masculine role Motivate related to jealousy, depression, her “nagging” personality Bad wife Not conforming to traditional feminine notions Kills husband because of his abusiveness Portrayed as having provoked his abusiveness

  31. News Media Portrayal: Child Abuse Cases Male Female Source: Content analysis of UK media (news & film) from 1945 to 1990 (Reiner 1997) Rarely portrayed as “bad dad” Even when men abuse children, mother is blamed for not taking control Research shows she too is a victim of abuse Likely portrayed as “bad mom” Violation of conventional gender role as caregiver Considered a “monster” in cases involving death of child

  32. News Media Portrayal:Child Abuse Cases Male Criminals Female Criminals More in need of “explanation” Radically challenge traditional conceptions of women Portrayed as bad, mad, wicked or weak Cast outside of realm of normalcy • Men’s violence explained away as: • Depressed by unemployment • Work stress • Challenge to honor • Mediated by alcohol • Moral implications are often omitted • We are not exceptionally shocked by male aggression or question masculinity

  33. Female Violent Criminal • Not conforming to traditional feminine notions • Violation of conventional gender role as caregiver • Radically challenge traditional conceptions of women

  34. News Media Portrayal:Child Abuse Cases Male Criminals Female Criminals More in need of “explanation” Radically challenge traditional conceptions of women Portrayed as bad, mad, wicked or weak Cast outside of realm of normalcy • Men’s violence explained away as: • Depressed by unemployment • Work stress • Challenge to honor • Mediated by alcohol • Moral implications are often omitted • We are not exceptionally shocked by male aggression or question masculinity

  35. Female Violent Offenders • Rare, unnatural, ‘doubly deviant’ • Not only broken law but transgressed norms of acceptable feminine behaviour • Rarity encourages sensational reporting

  36. Dominant Discourse: “Bad” or “Mad” Madness Discourse Badness Discourse Evil creature Anti-thesis to ‘normal women’ • Women at mercy of hormones or biology (PMS) • Victims of tragedy or trauma

  37. “Bad”: Susan Smith • October 25, 1994 reported to police she was carjacked by a black man who drove away with her sons still in the car. • Later, Smith confessed to letting her car roll into nearby lake drowning her children inside. • Many people across the US and around the world felt deeply betrayed • Aggravated by the fact that she had attempted to falsely blame a black man, making the case racially sensitive. • Her alleged motive for the murders was to have a relationship with a wealthy local man

  38. “Bad”: Susan Smith • Portrayed by the media as “selfish” woman • Social factors (e.g. sexual abuse) were down played • She committed a crime that threaten patriarchal ideology that mothers should be caregivers

  39. “Mad”: Sanna Sillanpaa • Late Feb 1999 in Finland • Sillanpaa attacked a shooting club in a suburb of Helsinki, Finland • Killed 3 men and injured a 4th man

  40. “Mad”: Sanna Sillanpaa • Sanna refused to talk (to both police and in court) • Police and press interviewed relatives who has known her • Media constructs her as sick rather than evil • October 2000 established she was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia

  41. Female Criminality in the Media • Few studies on media’s construction of female criminality • Question: Do female criminals who violate gender norms and challenge patriarchy receive the same media treatment as their male counter parts?

  42. Methodology • Six months study (Nov 1, 2001 to April 30, 2002) • The Herald Times (Indiana) • 2,281 crime stories • 179 editions Source: Grabe, M. E., Trager, K. , Lear, M. and Rauch, J. , (2004)

  43. Gender in Crime News: a case study test of the chivalry hypothesis Chivalry Hypothesis: Female criminals received more lenient treatment in criminal justice system and in news coverage of their crimes than their male counter part

  44. Chivalry Hypothesis • Asserts: Because women are viewed as weak and irrational, law enforcers and criminal justice system treat them more leniently • Some studies offer partial support for the chivalry hypothesis • Others challenged the idea • Some pointed out chivalry is not equally bestowed on all female criminals

  45. Chivalry Hypothesis • Depends on type of offense rather than severity of offense • Female criminals treated more severity than male criminals if commit unfeminine acts (e.g. violent behaviour, victimize children) • Compared to illegal activity that conform to standards of womanhood (e.g. stealing food to feed the family) • Petty crime committed are often overlooked • Violent women are punished and publically demonized as a cautionary tale to women about risks associated with strategies of male violence • This reinforces stereotypical female sex roles that perpetuate patriarchy

  46. Media Treatment of FemaleCriminals • Follow the same pattern • Type of crime women committed significantly affect how they were treated in the news

  47. Findings: • Women who commit violent crimes received prominent journalistic treatment in the Herald Times than women who committed non-violent crimes • More days of coverage, headlines longer, font size of headlines • 9 times more likely to appear on front page news of newspapers

  48. Women Committed Crime Against Children Received harsher treatment in the media than women who committed violent and non-violent crime (prominent coverage)

  49. Harsher Treatment • More likely as framed as self-interested criminals • 28% of violent crimes journalistically framed as individual-level impetus (greed, revenge, substance abuse, psychologically instability) • 5.9% non-violent crimes in this frame

  50. Women Commit Violent Crime Treated More Harshly By Media Women who commit violent crimes and crimes against children will receive harsher media treatment (prominent coverage, behaviour framed as result of individual flaws than male counterpart