USF St. Petersburg campus Master's Theses (Graduate)


University of South Florida St. Petersburg

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2014-03-19 00:00


My research analyzes how mass media, specifically mass media journalism, represents women who are incarcerated and their reproductive rights. Grounded in an ideological rhetorical analysis of articles published from the top fifteen United States news sources on permanent sterilizations that occurred in California women’s prisons from 2006-2010, this paper explores how language both creates and reinforces the segregation of women who are incarcerated from the remainder of society. Drawing on media and sociological theories, this analysis begins by examining the diction choices made by news media to convey how the women were asked to receive sterilizations, as well as how the legal status of the sterilizations is discussed in the chosen articles. The labels applied to these women (both verbally and visually), repetitively naming them as “inmates,” is also discussed. The final part of the analysis provides the historical context to the articles and how the term, eugenics, is used by news media as a framing device. Conclusively—I argue that the focus on the women solely as “inmates,” and the diction choices used by the news media— trivialize the seriousness of the sterilizations, and perpetuates the marginalization of these women from society.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Liberal Arts, Department of Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, March 19, 2014.

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