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Dangerous Discourses

Feminism, Gun Violence, and Civic Life

Edited By Catherine R. Squires

Dangerous Discourses brings together new work by feminist scholars who provide a multifaceted view of the ways contemporary media discourses inscribe particular understandings of gendered social identities, gun violence, and public policy.
The chapters examine multiple media locations where discourses about guns and violence against women proliferate, including social media, mainstream news, National Rifle Association-sponsored magazines, gun research, public policy debates, popular magazines, and television drama. 
Utilizing theory and empirical research, this book helps us see more clearly how gender, sexuality, and other intersecting identities must be included in analysis of media discourses of guns and gendered violence.  The authors discuss the role of patriarchal ideologies, and center feminist thought and concerns in order to get beyond the one-liners, sound bites, and truisms about bad guys, the Second Amendment, mental health, and personal freedom that currently dominate public debates about guns and violence. 
With its unique views on the ways gun violence and gender inflect each other in the United States, this book is designed for courses in media studies, women’s studies, and sociology.
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Chapter 4. Defining Women in Need: Online Coverage of the Violence against Women Act and Native and Undocumented Women


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Online Coverage of the Violence against Women Act and Native and Undocumented Women

Sarah J. Jackson

On March 7, 2013, after some delay, President Barack Obama signed an expanded Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law. VAWA, introduced in 1994 and reauthorized by Congress without much fanfare in 2000 and 2005, was allowed to expire in September 2011 after the Senate and House could not agree on new provisions. At issue in the delayed renewal was the expansion of protections to Native American women living on reservations, undocumented women immigrants, and LGBTQ women.

Given the symbolic annihilation of Native women in mainstream American media generally, and the increased demonization of undocumented women in the last decade, I examine how legislative discord over the expanded VAWA was explained to the public online. I compare general-audience (aka “mainstream”) news sites’ coverage to that of Latinx-targeted sites, a feminist pop culture site, and a Native American-owned and operated news site to gauge how journalists and community members made sense of the story for their audiences. The way violence against women, particularly that experienced by the most marginal in society, is framed reflects cultural (mis)understandings of the intersections between violence, victimhood, and ethnicity. These frames have implications for policy, as well as for broader conversations about national belonging and gendered violence. ← 75 | 76 →

Below, I contextualize Native and undocumented women’s experiences with violence alongside literature on...

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