Prison sex: is TV getting it right or not?

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University of Alabama Libraries

Although prison victimization – specifically sexual victimization – is a taboo subject, it is receiving more national attention than in the past. Despite the increased attention there is still limited research examining public perceptions of prison sexual victimization. The focus of this study is to examine media depictions of prison sexual victimization. Specifically, the study examines whether the depictions of victimization in the media vary based on gender and the media platform on which the television show appears. This research sheds light on the accuracy of media depictions as it relates to the scholarly literature as well as examines whether federal standards for broadcast influence media representations. A content analysis was conducted using three television shows: Prison Break, Orange is the New Black, and Oz. The current study found that there are gender differences in number of depictions of prison sexual victimization as well as the nature of those depictions. The findings also revealed that shows that are not subject to federal regulations display many more representations of sexual victimization than shows under federal guidelines. Lastly, the study found that the media more accurately depicts perpetrators of prison sexual victimization than victims of such acts

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