Meenakshi Gigi Durham

Feb 15, 2021


How Rape Culture in the Media Impacts Us All

Polity 2021

We are joined today by Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa in the writers’ heaven that is Iowa City, Iowa. She also holds a joint appointment in the Department of Gender, Women’s Studies, and Sexuality Studies at Iowa. She is here today to talk to us about her upcoming book: Me Too: The Impact of Rape Culture in the Media (Polity Press, 2021).

Professor Durham is the author of the quite famous The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It (Overlook Press, 2008) and Technosex: Precarious Corporealities, Mediated Sexualities, and the Ethics of Embodied Technics (Palgrave 2016) – both of which address modern, mass media explorations of the sexuality and gender.

In the wake of the MeToo movement, revelations of sexual assault and harassment continue to disrupt sexual politics across the globe. Reports of recurrent and widespread misconduct - in workplaces from doctors' offices to factory floors - are precipitating firings, legal actions, street protests, and policy punditry. Meenakshi Gigi Durham situates media culture as a place in which these broader social struggles are enacted and reproduced. The media figures whose depravity sparked the #MeToo movement are symbolic markers of the complexities of sexual desire and consent. Pop culture sparks controversies about rape culture; social media users have launched feminist resistance that turned to real-world activism; investigative journalists have broken stories of assault, offering a platform for survivors to speak truth to patriarchal power. Arguing that the media are a linchpin in these events, Durham provides a feminist account of the interrelated contexts of media production, representation, and reception. She situates media as the key site where the establishment of sexuality and social relations takes place and traces the media's powerful role in both reifying and challenging rape culture.

Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.

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Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.

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