Language, Power, and the Media in the Portrayal of Wartime Sexual Violence


  • Morgana Angeli University of Edinburgh



Sexual violence has increasingly been recognised – and framed – as a war crime. This essay seeks to unpack the normative and epistemological elements of this discourse. The literature is dominated by peacetime studies of gender and language which fail to analyse elements of shock and labels in the construction of the actors at play. This paper seeks to understand how language, power and media work together to infantilize women and create an implicit dichotomy of victims and survivors. Drawing on critical feminist and post-structural theories, it is argued that media agents play a significant role in shaping perception and defining policy on wartime rape, through language patterns and themes. It is concluded that the language employed by news articles contributes to the gendered socialization of wartime rape. The argument is illustrated by a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of two news channels, Al Jazeera and Fox News, which seeks to identify the common discursive themes and demonstrates that the rhetoric employed is self-perpetuating and is conducive to gendered assumptions and shortcomings.


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