The media, a newspaper or a television news report for example, does not just “re-present” all that is happening in the world. It must choose what to represent, and also help audiences understand what it means. Journalists typically find themselves incapable of representing the multiple, complex meanings of rape. Using speech-act analysis, and other analytic philosophical tools, I find that current Indian media representations of rape reflect a conflict between a journalist’s normative “progressive” obligation to represent speech acts of men and women with equal force and their need to conform to community speech-conventions that privilege men’s speech acts over women’s. The bad choices of representation made by journalists can be explained by the illocutionary silencing of raped women. The media tend to deny women their meaning-making rights. This article hopes to provide a few pointers toward making more self-aware ethical choices while “representing” rape.


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pp. 130-150
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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