The Significance of Gender in Media

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In a multi-mediated world, societies are bombarded with endless streams of information, the construction of which becomes central to their understanding and perceptions of the world around them. Stories of violence and death are eminently newsworthy, yet as this essay will explore, when combined with sex and sexual deviance, they become an even more dangerous and potent media cocktail. In an attempt to explain female offending, the media engage with leading and common sens notions of femininity and masculinity. () Here aggression is seen as a natural and inevitable form of male behaviour and thus deemed unfeminine where it is assumed natural for females to be docile compassionate and kind hearted. Gender is of great significance in the way in which the media portray female offending. Females are seen to have violated not only the criminal law but the natural law and where their crimes become gendered crimes, they are thus judged both socially and legally. () This essay will explore the significance of gender, through an analysis of newspaper constructions of high profile female offenders, namely, Myra Hindly, Rosemary West and Maxine Carr, in contrast to their male counterparts, in the UK. The instrumental role of this form of media, in sensationalising this relatively rare forms of offending will be discussed in relation to the choice of tone, language and visual images. Competing narratives of the ‘bad’, evil monstrosity, versus the ‘mad’, pathological women will be analysed in relation to in reinforcing gender stereotypes. This essay will argue that gender is the lens through which female criminal may be, judged, persecuted and alienated from woman hood and humanity all together.

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