Gender discourse within the British tabloid press: a study of the representation of female sex crime victims with reference to the Ipswich prostitute murders

Galpin, Hannah (2012) Gender discourse within the British tabloid press: a study of the representation of female sex crime victims with reference to the Ipswich prostitute murders. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    This dissertation focuses on the portrayal of sex crime within the British tabloid press, and will examine the framing of female victims. Central to this study is the theme of gender discourse within the media, in relation to historical concepts of female identity, such as the homely housewife of the 1950s and the sexually liberated 'Cosmo-girl' of the 1970s. Tabloid story's sometimes refer to these notions of female identity, often within sex crime narratives, which may serve to reiterate patriarchal notions of female social roles.
    Further related to the issue of tabloid storytelling is how the contemporary press is often accused of 'dumbing-down', as newspapers produce increasingly entertainment-focused content. Within the 'information society', amidst the proliferation of new, competing media outlets, newspapers face competition and seek to retain readers, thus 'dumbing-down' might encourage the use of worrying methods of storytelling. This shift in narrative themes and news values might see sex crime narratives involve graphic and provocative language culminating in problematic framing of victims.
    This dissertation is concerned with tabloid news reportage and how the female victims of sex crime and murder are framed. The core hypothesis proposes that storytelling may perpetuate unsympathetic and misogynist notions in relation to women and female identity. The common theme many theorists discuss is the specific categorizations appearing within narratives, such as the idea of the 'deserving' and the 'undeserving' victim. The fear might be that such storytelling means female victims face further victimization when the media choose to frame them in ways which reduce the blame for male perpetrators, whilst reiterating patriarchal notions of female identity and asserting worrying notions in relation to female behaviour.
    This dissertation employs a critical discourse analysis of the tabloid reportage of the 2006 Ipswich prostitute murders, and uses this as an example of how the female victims of an extreme and sexually-charged crime have been represented in tabloid narratives. The aim is to study the language specifically to establish if the tabloid press is problematic in its framing of sex crime. This topic will be contextualized through the discussion of discourses around media ethics, tabloid news values, historical representations of gender and feminist theory.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2014 14:19
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:32

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