Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Representing and Consuming Women. Paradoxes in Media Covering Violence against Women 1

Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Representing and Consuming Women. Paradoxes in Media Covering Violence against Women 1

Article excerpt

1. Conceptual framework: gender violence/ violence against women

Political science and gender studies literature together with different researches emphasize gender violence affects human rights and is an outcome of gender inequality. (FRA, 2014; Montoya, 2013; Weldon, Htun, 2013; Htun, Weldon, 2012; Bälutä, 2011; Vläsceanu, 2007; Miroiu, 2004). International documents that Romania ratified or is going to ratify include the two above mentioned framings and underline the former is a breach of women's rights understood as human rights (Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination against Women, Beijing Platform for Action, The Istanbul Convention).

Violence against women can be subjected to multiple angles of analysis (mobilization of national and transnational feminist movements to support dedicated public policies, gender and citizenship, gender and power, effects on women and society and so on), nevertheless the present article focuses between the intersection of violence against women and mass media as it generates an interesting and peculiar case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The role of media is highly important in regards to violence against women, both in terms of how media cover the issue, and how media may become a tool used by activists and decision makers to raise awareness, mobilize people and implement programs on the issue. Even if the relationship between media, public opinion and policy is complex, we know that media coverage matters and so does the construction of a problem as they both may give voice or silence perspectives and people (Berns, 2001; Best, 1995; Foucault, 1979). Individuals may draw meanings from different framings of a social problem and the media is a medium still widely used to understand social issues. In regards to the subject addressed in the present article, conceptualization of violence is important, thus the author will critically discuss specific terminological ambiguities as concepts also have strategic purposes, not only descriptive functions. As far national legislation is concerned, there is a linguistic prevalence of "violence within the family"; however in studies elaborated by NGOs and the academic community we encounter expressions such as: "domestic violence", "violence against women" and rarely "gender violence. Braga (2011) notices "violence against women" was not included as such by local decision makers in the process of policy making as they preferred a more gender neutral expression "violence within the family". The author of the present articles considers that by including the expression of "violence within the family" in policy making, decision makers rather embraced than confront the nonintervention approach in problems of the family and deepened the segregation between a public rhetoric of equality and daily life of individuals (Vläsceanu, 2007, p. 189)

As far as we notice, in regards to semantics, the author notes that there is still debate onhow to label the problem. Both Celeste Montoya (2013) and the European Women's Lobby notice "that there is an increasing use of the term gender in equality and antiviolence discourse that has actually served to degender these issues" (Montoya, 2013, p. 16) They are gendered form of violence, but predominantly aimed at women as statistics show. Looking at post-communist societies, Katalin Fábián (2010) emphasizes the preference for domestic violence instead of violence against women and considers it shows state's reticence to approach inequality in the private sphere. (Fábián, 2010, p. 20). Even if gender violence per se eliminates the association of gender with women, due to strategic purposes, the author prefers the concept of "violence against women" as means to emphasize that when it comes to adults victims of violence, women are by far more numerous than men.

If researches focus on what media actually don't say about violence against women, the article aims to emphasize what a commercial TV station said about the issue as it actually came to indirectly back claims of feminist activists. …

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