Victim Blaming, Protests, and Public Space: News Coverage of the Occupy Wall Street Sexual Assaults

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Date
2016-02-05
Authors
Barefoot, Abigail
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Altmetrics
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Iowa State University Digital Repository
Abstract

Occupy Wall Street was a national protest centered on wealth redistribution and sparked a national dialogue about economic reform. The movement faced internal challenges of crime occurring in the camps including sexual assault; these crimes were covered by news outlets as part of their Occupy Wall Street coverage. This article will expand upon previous feminist research on sexual violence news coverage by using a feminist media analysis to examine the coverage of sexual assaults occurring during Occupy Wall Street. Previous feminist research on sexual assault coverage argues that newspapers use myths about rape to discredit the crime and blame the victim. I argue that the coverage of sexual assaults during Occupy Wall Street used a “blame the victim” narrative to link the participation of women protesting in public space to gender based violence. I will explore how the actions of activists, the physical space of Occupy camps and the lack of crime prevention of the protesters and police were used by reporters to shift the blame from the perpetrator onto the victim. News coverage is considered an objective source of information so biased narratives of sexual assaults can reinforce society's traditional ideology about sexual assault, which can affect the needs of survivors.

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