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Color of Rape

Gender and Race in Television's Public Spheres

Sujata Moorti

Publication Year: 2002

Through an analysis of television images of rape, this book makes important contributions to theories of the public sphere as well as feminist theories of rape. It shows how issues pertaining to race and gender are integrated in television discussions of rape, and how ideas of race, stereotypes of black (male and female) sexuality, and the perceived threat of miscegenation continue to shape contemporary attitudes toward sexual violence.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

Over the course of this project I have gained a better understanding of the complex and subtle manner in which race and gender suffuse the terrains of citizenship and popular culture in the United States. Not only have I discovered that there are no easy answers to the vexing ways in which these categories of identity intersect, I have also come to appreciate the many different...

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pp. 1-14

In late December 1991, a pre-credits segment of In Living Color contained a skit with a woman dressed in a charcoal-gray suit and wearing a string of pearls, with a blue blob covering her face. The woman walks toward a seat in an area resembling a witness box in a courtroom. Once seated, she cheerfully endorses the merits of the Equity Card: “I may not remember why I took off...

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1. Television and Theories of the Public Sphere

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pp. 15-37

The statement in the epigraph is uttered in the movie To Die For by the protagonist who hopes to be a television star. She enters the field with no obvious training, but her physical appearance allows her first to be a “weather girl” on the local news and then a news anchor. The movie underscores the power of nomination bestowed on television: the medium does not just...

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2. The Feminist Subject of Rape

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pp. 39-69

These two statements reveal the contradictory ideas that continue to mark the field of rape. People respond with horror and revulsion at the spectacular and routinized use of sexual violence in war zones, whether it is in Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, or Kosovo, to name just a few instances from the 1990s, calling for legal punitive measures. Nevertheless, in instances of...

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3. The Right of Sight Is White: The Singular Focus of Network News

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pp. 71-112

In the previous two chapters I outlined the dominant theories framing the analysis in this book, specifying the problematic ways in which both theories of the public sphere and feminist analyses of rape address issues pertaining to gender and race. In the next four chapters, I examine different domains of television programming to outline the specific ways in which these...

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4. White Men Do Feminism: Multiple Narratives of Prime-Time Rape

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pp. 113-148

This statement in the popular 1980s cop show has an officer explaining the phenomenon of sexual violence to a male colleague who is unable to comprehend that a “fine lady” could be a rape victim. This conversation is emblematic of the majority of prime-time fictional narratives about rape that I analyze in this chapter. The writers of the program have incorporated...

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5. Testifying in the Court of Talk Shows

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pp. 149-182

Recently the university where I teach decided to undertake a series of initiatives to facilitate diversity in the classroom. The first session replicated the structure of the daytime talk show. Students, university administrators, and faculty comprised the panelists who were placed on a stage. All of them narrated their personal experiences with issues of diversity, primarily those...

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6. Fragmented Counternarratives

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pp. 183-211

In the previous chapters I outlined the ways in which different genres of television programming open up or foreclose discussions of rape, gender, and race. The Berger quotation cited above may seem dated, but it continues to be relevant when examining representational practices produced in a system framed by capitalist logic. The previous chapters elucidate that...

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pp. 213-220

The analysis that I have conducted in this book reveals that the various television genres follow different trajectories in producing narratives of rape. Some of them, such as daytime talk shows and certain prime-time programs, provide viewers with a multiplicity of approaches to address the issue of sexual violence. Others, such as the news, tend to offer monolithic...


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pp. 221-259


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pp. 261-267

E-ISBN-13: 9780791489826
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791451335
Print-ISBN-10: 079145133X

Page Count: 277
Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 52130454
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Color of Rape

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Subject Headings

  • Rape -- Press coverage -- United States.
  • Rape on television.
  • African Americans on television.
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