Covering rape

how the media determine how we understand sexualised violence


  • Alessia Tranchese University of Portsmouth



rape, critical discourse analysis, corpus analysis, news discourse, violence against women


The focus of this paper is a corpus study of the representation of rape in the mainstream quality press in the UK and a discussion of the broader social implications of such representation. This paper uses corpus analysis tools to study the discourse that surrounds the terms ‘rape’ and ‘raped’ and their collocates in a corpus of four British quality newspapers and compares the findings of the corpus analysis with corpus-external data (e.g. statistics on rape crimes, government reports, rape myths) to determine whether (and to what extent) the images foregrounded by the press in the corpus echo such contextual information. On the basis of this comparison, I argue that the representation of rape in the corpus reflects and reinforces dominant stereotypical understandings of rape rooted in patriarchal conceptualisations of gender roles and sexualities and perpetuated by established professional practices in mainstream journalism.

Author Biography

Alessia Tranchese, University of Portsmouth

Alessia Tranchese is senior lecturer in communication and applied linguistics at the University of Portsmouth, UK. She specialises in the study of language, gender and sexuality, in particular the language used by the press and on social media to discuss rape. She is currently working on a research project on the language of cybersexism.


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How to Cite

Tranchese, A. (2019). Covering rape: how the media determine how we understand sexualised violence. Gender and Language, 13(2), 174–201.