Athletes, Sexual Assault, and Trials by Media: Narrative Immunity

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Routledge, 2013 - Social Science - 215 pages
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Since footballer sexual assault became top news in 2004, six years after the first case was reported, much has been written in the news media about individual cases, footballers and women who have sex with them. Deb Waterhouse-Watson reveals how media representations of recent sexual assault cases involving Australian footballers amount to "trials by media", trials that result in acquittal. The stories told about footballers and women in the news media evoke stereotypes such as the "gold digger", "woman scorned" and the "predatory woman", which cast doubt on the alleged victims' claims and suggest that they are lying. Waterhouse-Watson calls this a "narrative immunity" for footballers against allegations of sexual assault.

This book details how popular conceptions of masculinity and femininity inform the way footballers' bodies, team bonding, women, sex and alcohol are portrayed in the media, and connects stories relating to the cases with sports reporting generally. Uncovering similar patterns of narrative, grammar and discourse across these distinct yet related fields, Waterhouse-Watson shows how these discourses are naturalised, with reports on the cases intertwining with broader discourses of football reporting to provide immunity. Despite the prevalence of stories that discredit the alleged victims, Waterhouse-Watson also examines attempts to counter these pervasive rape myths, articulating successful strategies and elucidating the limitations built into journalistic practices, and language itself.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Narrating Sexual Assault Involving Footballers
8
Patterns of Deflecting Blame
34
Silencing the Feminine
57
Legitimating Sexual Violence
77
Militarism Alcohol and Team Bonding
100
Bad Apples Heroes and Naughty Little Boys
130
Alternative Strategies for Narrating Sexual Assault
155
The End of an Affair
185
Reported Cases of Footballer Sexual Assault 19982011
187
Tables of Cited Television Programs
191
AFL and NRL Clubs and Nicknames
195
Glossary of Australian News Outlets
197
Notes
199
References
215
Index
231

Breaking the Différend
180

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About the author (2013)

Deb Waterhouse-Watson is an Associate Lecturer in the School of English, Communications and Performance Studies at Monash University, Australia. She is the author of Playing Defence in Sexual Assault "Trial by Media": The Male Footballer's Imaginary Body, and Framing the Victim: Sexual Assault and Australian Footballers on Television.

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