UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The usual suspects : a feminist critical discourse analysis of media representations of responsibility for sexual assault prevention Ariana, Barer


This thesis examined the representation of social actors responsible for sexual assault prevention published in media and police reports and grassroots poster campaigns that followed a series of sexual assaults perpetrated in Edmonton between May 2008 and March 2010. Reporting by Edmonton Journal, CBC News, and the published responses of the Garneau Sisterhood, a grassroots organization, was examined through a lens informed by feminist critical discourse analysis (FCDA). Using FCDA, I analyzed the ways in which the representations of social actors in these texts changed across time both linguistically and interdiscursively. Three main neoliberal discourses found to be operating in media representations of social actors in the Edmonton Journal and CBC News were discourses of individualization, authority, and feminization. An analysis of social actors in the media showed these assaults to be isolated and individualized crimes. In addition, media representation included an unquestioned deference to police authority in seeking solutions and justice, and the construction of rape-avoidance as a hegemonic norm of femininity. The main discourse found in the Garneau Sisterhood poster campaigns was a discourse of collective responsibility. Sexualized violence will not likely end without a shift in the culture of violence toward women. At a time when the federal government is defunding feminist advocacy and direct service organizations—forcing them to close or function precariously—the presence of collective-oriented, grassroots interruptions of normalized rape culture is both urgent and hopeful.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported