Beauty and the beast: gendered and raced discourse in the news

Wilcox, Paula (2005) Beauty and the beast: gendered and raced discourse in the news Social & Legal Studies, 14 (4). pp. 515-532. ISSN 0964 6639

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This article explores the implications of the extent to which the mythic intrudes on the everyday in newspaper reporting, taking as a case study the drive-by shooting of two young, black women in Birmingham in 2003. An analysis of news headlines and texts demonstrates the use of mythical language and imagery in this case (as in other high-profile cases) as compared with the usual reporting of homicides in the press. Notions of innocence and guilt are explored through the construction of gendered and raced bodies in the case study. The article finds that this media discourse relies for its impact on the simultaneous and mutually dependent construction of fabular gendered and raced ideas; of exceptional innocence and purity (unusually) attached to black femininity (beauty) and of exceptional and volatile violence (usually) attached to black masculinity (the beast). Moreover, the discourse is constructed such that guilt for the gun crime extends beyond the individual perpetrators to the black community as a whole. While media coverage reflects a realistic fear of gun crime, the article concludes that media discourse in this case directs fear towards the black community/male as the dangerous 'other', and that this is crucially underpinned by polarized gendered discourse.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: black femininity; black masculinity; gendered discourse; innocence; guilt; violence
Subjects: C000 Biological and Biomedical Sciences > C800 Psychology
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1177/0964663905057593
Faculties: Faculty of Health and Social Sciences > School of Applied Social Science > Psychosocial Studies
Depositing User: editor sass
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2007
Last Modified: 21 May 2014 11:01

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