#Time’sUp on Patriarchal Narratives of Rape on Screen: The Potentialities of a Female Gaze

Yates, Victoria Michelle (2019) #Time’sUp on Patriarchal Narratives of Rape on Screen: The Potentialities of a Female Gaze. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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In this research I utilise critical feminist media theory to examine the various discourses of rape presented in televised fictions of sexual violence. In undertaking a Foucauldian discourse analysis I explore patriarchal discursive manoeuvring, the enduring presence of the male gaze, and the emerging potential for feminist discourses of sexual violence alongside a female gaze, as a political endeavour and opportunity for social change. This feminist project is borne out of my recognition of the ubiquity of rape as central to the storyline of many British prime-time television dramas over approximately the last five years in an era post-Savile scandal, and now post-Weinstein also. As the majority of programmes that I analyse involve representations of the criminal justice system, I discern how critically they portray the trial and punishment of rape in law, which aspects of rape culture such televisual narratives highlight or reinforce, and likewise which rape myths they dispel or perpetuate. In my overall examination of the genre of sexual violence focussed programmes from 2013 to 2018, I argue that just as a continuum of men’s violence against women has been conceptualised, a continuum of televisual discourses of rape can be conceived. From the data, I identify the use of traditional patriarchal discourses to punish archetypal 'postfeminist' women in ITV’s Liar and BBC’s Apple Tree Yard, as well as programmes which co-opt feminism alongside the presence of visual misogyny as in BBC’s The Fall. Conversely, I also determine the emergence of dramas which centre feminist standpoints, as executed in drama series such as Channel 4’s National Treasure and ITV’s Broadchurch. I conclude by examining the potential impact of televisual representations of sexual violence by means of a female gaze, such as that arguably demonstrated in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake.

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