Rees, Gethin and White, Deborah
Vindictive but vulnerable: paradoxical representations of women as demonstrated in internet discourse surrounding an anti-rape technology
Women's Studies International Forum, 35, (6), . (doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2012.09.004).
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Much media interest surrounded a campaign to raise funds to distribute 30,000 Rape-aXe condoms to women during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The barbed device is worn inside the vagina and attaches to a penis upon penetration. This paper presents an analysis of popular attitudes towards women and rape as identified from comments made upon online news websites and popular blogs in response to this technology. Two over-arching representations emerged; first, that the Rape-aXe would be employed as a weapon for vengeance and deceit, and second, that it was a means of helping women negotiate risk. We argue that such paradoxical representations of women as simultaneously vindictive and vulnerable make problematic the utility of such an anti-rape device. We suggest that the cultural entrenchment of stereotypical and negative attitudes towards women needs to be recognized and counter-acted upon before rape intervention measures, like the Rape-aXe, can have any positive effect.
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