Mainstream media responsible for ‘shallow’ coverage of anti-rape activism, says academic

Posted by ap507 at Jun 30, 2015 10:32 AM |
University of Leicester researcher to publish new book on ‘SlutWalk’ protests and challenging rape culture

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 30 June 2015    

Photo opportunity: Book launch event on Tuesday 7 July between 3:00-4:30pm at the University of Leicester’s Bookshop. Contact Dr Kaitlynn Mendes on email km350@le.ac.uk to arrange.

A researcher from the University of Leicester argues in a new book that the mainstream media often neglects anti-rape activism by delivering ‘shallow’ coverage.

The book, ‘SlutWalk: Feminism, Activism & Media’, has been written by Dr Kaitlynn Mendes from the University of Leicester’s Department of Media and Communication and analyses how the 2011 ‘SlutWalk’ anti-rape movement was more proactively received by the feminist blogosphere than the mainstream media, which frequently printed ‘shallow’ coverage by comparison.

Dr Mendes explained: “Although the mainstream media covered SlutWalk, it was limited in comparison to that found in the feminist blogosphere. For example, whereas the news frequently included statements indicating that SlutWalk challenged ‘rape culture’ they rarely explained what rape culture was, how it was perpetuated or how the movement was actually challenging it.

“On the other hand, the feminist blogs had the space, freedom and lack of traditional journalistic constraints which allowed them to go into these issues in more depth.”

The ‘SlutWalk’ movement started in Toronto in February 2011, when a police officer told local students they should ‘avoid dressing like sluts’ to prevent being raped.

Social outrage exploded into demonstrations across over 40 countries, including the UK and United States, as a way of challenging attitudes towards rape and the ways victims are often blamed.

The book continues Dr Mendes’s research into feminist issues in media and popular culture having previously investigated issues such as ‘lad culture’ in education and how the media can perpetuate misogynistic messages.

Dr Mendes added: “Although ‘SlutWalks’ might not be making the news as they did back in 2011 when the movement was in full swing, I argue that the movement was a watershed in helping the public recognise that feminism's goals have yet to be achieved and that more work needs to be done, particularly surrounding issues of sexual assault and rape culture.

"Furthermore, what was incredible about the movement was the extent to which it got young people, mainly women, involved in activism.

“My research shows the way the movement inspired many who had not previously been interested in feminism or activism, to get involved in challenging gender inequality and oppression.

“What I hope readers take away from the book is an understanding of what rape culture is, how it is perpetuated, and how it can, and should be challenged. And that you don't already have to have experience as an activist to create change - just the willingness to act.”

An event to launch the book will take place at the University of Leicester’s Bookshop on Tuesday 7 July between 3:00-4:30pm.

The event is free and open to the public.

More information about the book launch event is available at: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/bookshop_new/events/book-launch-slutwalk-by-kaitlynn-mendes 

ENDS 

Notes for Editors:                                                           

For more information about the launch, please contact Dr Kaitlynn Mendes by email km350@le.ac.uk

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