Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


+ Stefan Blaschke


+ Search Form


+ Aims & Scope

+ Structure

+ History


+ Updates

+ Calls for Papers

+ New Lectures

+ New Publications

Alphabetical Index

+ Author Index

+ Speaker Index

Chronological Index

+ Ancient History

+ Medieval History

+ Modern History

Geographical Index

+ African History

+ American History

+ Asian History

+ European History

+ Oceanian History

Topical Index

+ Prosecution

+ Cases

+ Types

+ Offenders

+ Victims

+ Society

+ Research

+ Representations


+ Institutions

+ Literature Search

+ Research

Start: Alphabetical Index: Speaker Index: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

First published: September 1, 2023 - Last updated: September 1, 2023


Speaker: Ange Barton

Title: A woman's words

Subtitle: What are they worth? Rape in Aotearoa/New Zealand newspapers: 1975-2015

Conference: Women's Studies Association of New Zealand Conference (Sepember 2-3, 2016): Re/generation: New landscapes in feminism and Women's Studies

Place: Auckland, New Zealand

Date: September 2016

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | Oceanian History: New Zealand History | Types: Rape; Representations: Press / The Dominion, The New Zealand Herald, Otago Daily Times, The Press, The Southland Times, Sunday Star-Times, Taranaki Daily News


Link: -


Speaker:, ResearchGate

Abstract: »My masters research forms one component of Associate Professor Jan Jordan's Marsden scholarship titled Rape, silencing and objectification: A socio-cultural analysis of barriers to rape reform. The overall research aim of the project is to explore how the ongoing silencing and objectification of women, as evidenced in a range of media forms (newspapers, women's magazines, and pornography), contribute to the sociocultural environment in which rape both occurs and is responded to by the police.
Whilst there is a strong base of sexual violence research in Aotearoa/New Zealand, andprevious attempts have been made to analyse newspaper representations of rape (Lynch, 2015; Mitchell, 2001; Wood & Dickson, 2013), a literature gap exists on a longitudinal level. My research is looking at depictions of male-female rape (where the woman is aged 16 years or above) in eight prominent Aotearoa/New Zealand newspapers over a 40-year period between 1975 and 2015. Analysing five complete years of reporting (1975, 1985, 1995, 2005, and 2015), my aim is to explore and identify the different ways in which rape is discussed within newspaper articles and assess the extent to which women have been represented, objectified, and silenced in rape reports over time. A further aim is to analyse whether shifts have occurred in relation to the reliance on gender stereotypes and the perpetuation of rape myths. Informed by feminist theory, my research will explore how gendered sexual violence is constructed in articles from Aotearoa/New Zealand's four main daily newspapers: The New Zealand Herald, The Dominion/Evening Post (merged as one publication to become the Dominion Post in 2002), The Press, and the Otago Daily Times. These newspapers were selected because they have the highest circulation figures for daily newspapers in Aotearoa/New Zealand and therefore provide a good representation of the way the news, in general, is presented in the Aotearoa/New Zealand press (Thakker & Durrant, 2006). In addition, I selected one national weekly - the Sunday Star Times - and two regional newspapers - the Southland Times and the Taranaki Daily News.
Rape myths play an important role in maintaining a rape culture and aid in ensuring that rape is downplayed and trivialised through the use of victim-blaming language, the objectification of women, and the refusal to acknowledge that rape is a real problem - these are clear indicators that rape myths still exist (Franiuk, Seefelt, Cepress, & Vandello, 2008; Magilsen, 2015; Shariff & DeMartini, 2015). Rape myths, which feed into a 'rape culture', underpin how sexual violence is perpetrated and how that behaviour becomes normalised, resulting in its legitimisation not only by the public but also by the media (Franiuk et al., 2008; Soothill & Walby, 1991). Including aspects like victim-blaming rhetoric and sexist language, the newspaper media not only condone a 'rape culture' but are most likely unaware they are doing so. Unfortunately, misleading representations of sexual violence in newspapers can affect the sociocultural environment within which rape both occurs and is responded to by members of the criminal justice system.
International research concerning the depiction of rape in the media has highlighted the ways in which news reports sensationalise sexual violence by giving a distorted view of its incidence and nature. Studies have noted that the media disproportionately focus on stranger rape, gang rape, on unusual or bizarre assaults, and on violence perpetrated against young women (Caringella-MacDonald, 1998; Carter, 2002; Heath, Gordon, & LeBailly, 1981; Kitzinger, 2004; Soothill & Walby, 1991). Media accounts of rape tend to trivialise women's experiences of the attack or report rapes in a manner that is designed to be titillating or arousing to readers, reiterating the significance of newsworthiness and its 'mission to entertain' (Jewkes, 2011). Media images of crime have been argued to reinforce social anxieties, as people are simultaneously fascinated and alarmed by representations of crime (Jewkes, 2011).
The benefits of a longitudinal approach are worth noting. It will provide an importantaccount of changes in two key areas: the changing depiction of women, rape, and sexual assault since the 1970s, and how the Aotearoa/New Zealand media landscape has changed across time with regards to reporting practices concerning sexual violence. It is also important because this large-scale analysis will unpack changes in language used in reports about rape, traditional attitudes towards women, and the way that sexual violence has been presented to the Aotearoa/New Zealand public across a 40-year period during which profound changes have occurred across the media scape and within Aotearoa/New Zealand society itself.
I am currently eight months into my thesis; my data collection phase took approximately four months, even with a research assistant who gave me 100 hours of her time. This involved collecting newspaper articles made available via microfilm for the years 1975, 1985, and some of 1995. The digitisation process began in the mid-late nineties, but only three out of eight newspapers were online by 1995 - the remaining five, I manually microfilmed. This was incredibly time consuming; each day of the eight newspapers had to be viewed for the full 12 months because keyword searching was unavailable. Once I reached 2005 and 2015, online databases were used to search for articles, which sped up the process immensely!
Although my work is still in progress, it is already indicating new areas that are worthy of mention. The length of reports has changed across time - articles in 1975 were much shorter, factual court reports, whereas articles became longer from 1985 and images were introduced. In 1995, full page spreads dominated, perhaps brought on by the high-profile serial rapist case of Joseph Thompson, which swamped the press. From 2005 onwards, discussion emerged from practitioners, academics, and politicians around 'rape culture' - although sensationalist headlines still persisted and newspapers disproportionately focused on stranger rape, gang rape, or unusual and bizarre assaults, a trend that is consistent across all five years. Despite this positive change, I have also noticed an overwhelming number of articles that used the 'male voice' as the dominant narrative of the piece. Regardless of the journalist's gender, it is predominantly men (as criminal justice system practitioners or the male perpetrators themselves) speaking to 'us' in news reports; illustrating that newspaper media prioritise men's voices as dominant narratives. While men retain the controlling voice, speaking out about or for women, it is difficult to see how rape culture might shift.
I know of no other published research that attempts to document depictions of rape and women's representations across a 40-year period with regards to the publications I have selected. I will attempt to build on foundations established by previous Aotearoa/New Zealand research to gain a deeper insight into this topic and ultimately to dispel societal attitudes about sexual violence and how they present as barriers to rape reform. I want to not only do the project justice but also be aware of my abilities and limitations. Despite challenges, I need to remind myself that I am contributing to an important project, and I hope my study will make a significant contribution to the Aotearoa/New Zealand sexual violence and criminological literature and ultimately be used as a platform for other researchers to proceed.« (Source: Women's Studies Journal 31.1(July 2017): 118-120.)

Publication: Barton, Angela M. It's The Same Old Story: Rape Representation in New Zealand Newspapers (1975 - 2015). Master Thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, 2017. - Bibliographic Entry: Info

Wikipedia: History of Oceania: History of New Zealand | News media: News media in New Zealand / The Dominion (Wellington), The New Zealand Herald, Otago Daily Times, The Press, The Southland Times, Sunday Star-Times, Taranaki Daily News | Sex and the law: Rape