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NCJ Number: 68506 Find in a Library
Title: ACCOUNTING FOR RAPE - REALITY AND MYTH IN PRESS REPORTING (FROM WOMEN, SEXUALITY AND SOCIAL CONTROL, P 89-103, 1978, BY CAROL SMART AND BARRY SMART)
Author(s): C SMART; B SMART
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 615
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: THIS EXAMINATION OF BRITISH PRESS REPORTING ON RAPE CONCLUDES THAT THE FORM AND CONTENT OF SUCH REPORTING HAS BOTH HINDERED UNDERSTANDING OF RAPE AND HELPED PERPETUATE WOMEN'S SOCIAL AND SEXUAL SUBORDINATION.
Abstract: THE PREVAILING CULTURAL STEREOTYPE OF RAPE INVOLVES A BRUTAL ASSAULT BY A SEXUAL PSYCHOPATH ON A VICTIM WHO IS VULNERABLE TO ATTACK BECAUSE OF SOCIAL OR GEOGRAPHICAL ISOLATION. IN FACT, A STUDY OF 646 RAPES IN PHILADELPHIA SHOWED THAT ALMOST HALF OF THE VICTIMS AND OFFENDERS KNEW ONE ANOTHER AND OVER HALF THE RAPES TOOK PLACE IN THE HOME. MOREOVER, 70 PERCENT OF THE RAPES WERE PLANNED RATHER THAN SPONTANEOUS RESPONSES TO OPPORTUNITY. STUDIES OF MALE RAPISTS HAVE INDICATED THAT MOST ARE NEITHER SEXUAL PSYCHOPATHS NOR INSANE. THE RAPE STEREOTYPE THEREFORE IS UNLIKELY TO FIT MANY VICTIMS' ACTUAL EXPERIENCES. LITERATURE AND FILMS USUALLY DEPICT RAPES AS THE EPITOME OF MALE-FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS, AS AN ISOLATED EVENT, OR AS A VICTIM-PRECIPITATED ASSAULT. THESE CULTURAL VALUES AND FORMS OF REPRESENTATION OF RAPE ALSO PERMEATE AND STRUCTURE PRESS REPORTS OF RAPE. NEWSPAPER ACCOUNTS OF MOTIVATION PERPETUATE THE COMMONLY HELD BELIEF THAT RAPE IS SIMPLY THE OUTCOME OF SEXUAL FRUSTRATION OR AROUSAL RATHER THAN AN ACT OF VIOLENCE. MOREOVER, CONCENTRATION ON THE INDIVIDUAL CREATES THE IMPRESSION THAT RAPE IS AN ISOLATED EVENT UNRELATED TO OTHER SOCIAL PHENOMENA. PRESS DESCRIPTIONS OF RAPISTS USUALLY PERPETUATE THE IMPRESSION THAT RAPISTS ARE SEXUAL PSYCHOPATHS. FEW VICTIMS DESCRIBED ARE NONWHITE, ALTHOUGH THE PHILADELPHIA STUDY INDICATED THAT MORE BLACK WOMEN THAN WHITE WOMEN ARE RAPED. PRESS REPORTS' EFFECTS ARE TO REMIND WOMEN OF THEIR VULNERABILITY, CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE OF FEAR, AND SUGGEST THAT WOMEN SHOULD WITHDRAW TO THE TRADITIONAL DOMESTIC SPHERE AND THE PROTECTION OF MEN. HENCE RAPE BECOMES A FORM OF SOCIAL CONTROL BOTH IN TERMS OF PHYSICAL COERCION AND IN TERMS OF SOCIALIZATION INTO LIMITED BEHAVIOR AND ACTIVITIES. CASE EXAMPLES AND NOTES ARE INCLUDED.
Index Term(s): Critiques; England; Media coverage; Public information; Rape; Rapists
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=68506

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