'I may destroy you': why media representations of sexual violence matter

Mishra, Ankita, House, Melody, Asser, Zoe and Beddows, Amy (2022) 'I may destroy you': why media representations of sexual violence matter. Transforming Society.


The Media Sigils are part of the Violence Against Women and Girls Research Network (VAWGRN). We are a group of PhD students with a shared interest in media representation of violence against women. In April, we held our first event: a panel discussion on Michaela Coel’s riveting drama ‘I May Destroy You’.

I May Destroy You, as well as being a captivating piece of television, explores sexual consent, different forms of sexual violence and the intersections between sexism, racism, homophobia and structural inequalities, providing a refreshing escape from generic rape narratives and stereotypical representations of Black trauma. The show has been deservedly lauded for its nuanced exploration of complex and deeply impactful events, and does so with humour and deep authenticity, as Michaela Coel explores her own experiences of sexual assault through the central character, Arabella. The issues tackled in IMDY also reflect the raison d’être of our special interest group: if media portrayals of sexual violence, gender inequalities, racial and homophobic discrimination contribute to the harmful myths and stereotypes which enable these social ills to flourish, can progressive and challenging messages be conducive to social change?

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