Reframing the Conversation on Gender-Based Violence: A Thematic Analysis of Anita Hill’s New York Times Opinion Editorial “Let’s Talk About How to End Sexual Violence”
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When the issue of gender-based violence shifted from a “personal” to a “public” matter in the early ‘90s, the U.S. invested heavily in criminal justice-based interventions through the Violence Against Women Act. Despite strong evidence of successful prevention approaches that consider the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community and societal factors, studies suggest mainstream society is still hesitant, unwilling, and unsure, of how to talk about sexual violence, or its connection to racial oppression. Further studies on media and the public’s perception of sexual violence show an increased use of violence as a political tool. This study utilized thematic analysis of comments submitted on a New York Times op-ed written by Prof. Anita Hill, a unique historical figure, attempting to shift a conversation on gender-based violence (GBV) from individual actions and present-day politics to ending GBV systemically. Three overarching themes emerged from the data: disbelief (discrediting accusers, focusing on due process), affirmation (praise for Anita Hill and support for self-identified survivors) and a persistent focus on politics and partisan debates.
- MA in Policy Studies