Prior research suggests the media depict White female victims more sympathetically than their minority counterparts, yet no researcher has yet examined this proposition at the multivariate level. Moreover, prior research on media portrayals generally include White versus non-White or White versus Black comparisons, but no researcher has yet compared media accounts of White, Black, and Latina female victims. Based on critical race feminism, we expected news coverage of White, Black, and Latina victims to vary in key ways. We examined narratives at the bivariate and multivariate levels, and we contextualized findings with story excerpts. Stories about White female victims were more likely to contain sympathetic themes—such as themes of religiosity and reported media attention—and to result in overall sympathetic narratives compared to stories about minority victims, whereas overall narratives about Latina and Black female victims were often unsympathetic. Our findings align with the “ideal victim” stereotype and may help explain the differential treatment of White and minority female victims by the criminal justice system.
Categories: Bias in Criminal Justice System, Critical Race Theory, Feminist theory, Police, Race, Stereotypes