If you read the newspaper, you’d notice that there will be a story about rape and sexual assault almost every other day. Not surprising, since 1 out of 3 women have experienced rape worldwide. But there is something very disturbing and fictional about these accounts.
Emphasis is placed on sensationalism, the sexual history of rape survivors, and on stranger rape. The fact that most rapists are people known to the survivor – spouse, intimate partners, friends, family members – becomes obscured in the popular understanding of rape.
Rape is understood in sexual terms, whether titillating, entertaining or transgressive. The fact that it stems from unequal power relations in terms of sexuality and gender is rarely reflected in the report.
Survivors are often represented as voiceless victims, with everyone else speaking on her behalf. Instead of survival, the narratives often prompt us to feel shame, pity or outrage for a nameless woman with no capacity for self determination.
Sensationalism reduces rape to another form of information as entertainment. When news reports about rape selectively present sexist ideas about power, women and sexuality, they skew our understanding of what rape is really about, and in turn, how to counter it.
Cut it out. Rape is not for mere reading pleasure.
- Scan your newspaper for a news report about rape or sexual assault.
- Read the article critically.
- Think about how it presents rape, and what you actually know about rape.
- Cut out the language, sentence or section that you find problematic with a pair of scissors.
- Turn it into a postcard.
- Stick it on a piece of paper
- Add the name of newspaper, the title of the report, and the date of publication.
- Say something about what you think.
- Scan it and send the postcard to this campaign website. You can either:
- Email it to jac AT apcwomen DOT org, or
- Create an account on this site (click on “create account”, verify the account, click on “create content”, then “images”, and follow the simple instructions)
- Put it up on your blog, or flickr account if you have one, and tag it as “takebackthetech”
- Or simply, add a comment on this website with
- The name of the newspaper
- The date of publication
- The title of the news report
- The language, section or sentence that you find problematic
End sexist representations of sexual violence.