By Sujata Moorti
Via an research of tv pictures of rape, this booklet makes vital contributions to theories of the general public sphere in addition to feminist theories of rape. It exhibits how concerns concerning race and gender are built-in in tv discussions of rape, and the way rules of race, stereotypes of black (male and feminine) sexuality, and the perceived chance of miscegenation proceed to form modern attitudes towards sexual violence.
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Additional resources for Color of Rape: Gender and Race in Television’s Public Spheres
7 The figures cited in this study are six times the number previously estimated by the federal government, and as a result the survey has been critically scrutinized. 9 The discrepancies in these figures are attributed to the different definitions of rape employed and the validity of data-gathering methods. Further, both the Uniform Crime Report and Justice Department statistics only take into account the rapes that are reported to the police, and since sexual violence is considered one of the most underreported crimes, it would be safe to surmise that the actual figure is 42 COLOR OF RAPE higher than those estimated by official sources.
This blurring of boundaries can be witnessed in the changed role of the media: they no longer transmit information and disseminate discourses among participants in a larger public body but have become sites for the consumption of information. Habermas contends that the media have failed in their function of facilitating democratic debate and are primarily responsible for the debilitated version of democracy that currently prevails, one marked by a culture-consuming rather than a culture-debating public.
In this chapter I trace some of the feminist writings that have enabled this change in public awareness about the crime, and I highlight the problematic issues in these theories that could account for the inertia that resists change in individual attitudes. Since the 1970s, feminist scholarship on rape has resulted in new understandings of sexual violence and the social hierarchies that underpin it. In this chapter I provide an overview of the multiple understandings of rape promoted by different strands of feminist theories, emphasizing those that locate it as a form of violence embedded in interlocking systems of gender, race, and class oppression.
Color of Rape: Gender and Race in Television’s Public Spheres by Sujata Moorti