Shelby 2013 Crime

Title Information

Author: Renee Marie Shelby

Title: Obscuring Sexual Crime

Subtitle: Examining Media Representations of Sexual Violence in Megan's Law

Thesis: M.A. Thesis, Georgia State University

Year: 2013

Pages: viii + 64pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century, 21st Century | U.S. History | Prosecution: Laws / Megan's Law; Representations: Press

Full Text

Link: ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University (Free Access)

Additional Information

Abstract: »Sexual violence remains a pervasive and persistent social problem. In 1996, Congress enacted Megan’s Law, dictating mandatory community notification and potential civil commitment for those deemed by the State to be "dangerous sexual offenders." In 2013, Megan’s law continues to influence the treatment of sexual offenders under law and the social construction of a highly publicized, yet statistically rare, sexual crime—the rape and murder of a young female child by a depraved male stranger. This influence highlights the extent to which this personalized crime bill shapes the social construction of sexual violence in terms of sex and gender systems. This project examines how sex and gender shape media discourses of the sexual offender and victim that are mobilized in the legislative debate on Megan’s Law. Drawing on theoretical ideas from cultural studies and feminist legal scholarship, I employ discourse analysis to analyze the legislative debate on Megan’s Law.« (Source: ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University)


  Acknowledgements (p. v)
  List of Tables (p. viii)
  1 Introduction (p. 9)
    1.1 Research Questions (p. 12)
  2 Literature Review (p. 13)
    2.1 The Social Construction of Sexual Scripts: "Normalcy" vs. "Deviancy" (p. 14)
      2.1.1 Constructing Deviant Behavior: A History of Selective Legislation (p. 16)
      2.1.2 Constructing the Sexual Offender (p. 17)
    2.2 Cultural Studies: The Role of Media in Shaping Sexual Abuse Scripts (p. 19)
      2.2.1 Media Influence and Disseminating the Image of Sexual Abuse (p. 20)
      2.2.2 Media Templates: Solidifying the Perverted Predator (p. 22)
    2.3 Feminist Analyses of Sex Crimes and Sex Crimes Law (p. 25)
      2.3.1 Feminist Reformers: A Brief Period of Enlightenment (p. 26)
      2.3.2 Sexual Predator Laws: A Return of the Old Architecture (p. 29)
  3 Research Methodology (p. 31)
  4 Data (p. 35)
  5 Findings (p. 35)
    5.1 Focus on Specific Types of Child Victims (p. 37)
    5.2 Sexual Psychopath Rhetoric (p. 44)
    5.3 Discourse Homogeneity Through Disconfirming Evidence (p. 51)
  6 Discussion (p. 54)
  7 Conclusion (p. 57)
  8 References (p. 59)
  9 Appendix (p. 68)

Lecture: Shelby, Renee. »Obscuring Sexual Crime: Examining Media Representations of Sexual Violence in Megan's Law.« Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. San Francisco 2014.

Wikipedia: Megan's Law

Added: November 30, 2013 – Last updated: January 3, 2015