Heinous Crime or Acceptable Violence? The Disparate Framing of Femicides in Hawai’i

Nicholas Chagnon



Violence against women is a pervasive social problem, yet it is under-reported in the press.  Scholars have long critiqued media for flawed coverage of this crime. Yet, few studies have specifically examined femicides using probability samples and an intersectional sensibility.  This study does that, examining a probability sample of femicide coverage in Hawaii’s two major dailies—The Honolulu Advertiser and Star-Bulletin—between 2000 and 2008.  Findings indicate that Hawaii’s newspapers frame femicides disparately—as an unacceptable social problem, or as routine, acceptable violence.  This disparate framing is accomplished through the clustering of patriarchal, racialized, and class-based discourses.  Considering Hawaii’s distinct racial/ethnic diversity, racialized discourses in this sample were particularly thought-provoking, employing insidious and nuanced racialized markers to ‘other’ various groups.  Findings regarding these racialized discourses may be generalizable to analyses of ‘post-racial’ discourse on an increasingly diverse mainland.


crime media; violence against women; hegemonic ideology; femicides

Full Text:




Benedict, Helen. 1993. Virgin Or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes. Oxford University Press.

Best, Joel. 1990. Threatened Children: Rhetoric and Concern About Child-Victims. University Of Chicago Press.

Bullock, Cathy Ferrand, and Jason Cubert. 2002. “Coverage of Domestic Violence Fatalities by Newspapers in Washington State.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 17(5): 475–99.

Burgess-Proctor, Amanda. 2006. “Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Crime Future Directions for Feminist Criminology.” Feminist Criminology 1(1): 27–47.

Chancer, Lynn. 1994. “Gender, Class and Race in Three High Profile Crimes: The Cases of New Bedford, Central Park and Bensonhurst.” Journal of Crime and Justice 17(2): 167–87.

Charmaz, Kathy. 2006. Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. 1st ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Chiricos, Ted, and Sarah Eschholz. 2002. “The Racial and Ethnic Typification of Crime and The Criminal Typification of Race and Ethnicity in Local Television News.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 39(4): 400–420.

Connell, R. W., and James W. Messerschmidt. 2005. “Hegemonic Masculinity Rethinking the Concept.” Gender & Society 19(6): 829–59.

DeKeseredy, Walter S. 2010. “Moral Panics, Violence, and the Policing of Girls.” In Fighting for Girls: New Perspectives on Gender and Violence, eds. Meda Chesney-Lind and Nikki Jones. SUNY Press, 241–52.

Dragiewicz, Molly. 2011. Equality With a Vengeance: Men’s Rights Groups, Battered Women, and Antifeminist Backlash. UPNE.

Gilliam, Franklin D., and Shanto Iyengar. 2000. “Prime Suspects: The Influence of Local Television News on the Viewing Public.” American Journal of Political Science 44(3): 560–73.

Gitlin, Todd. 2003. The Whole World Is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and Unmaking of the New Left, With a New Preface. 2nd ed. University of California Press.

Glaser, Barney, and Anselm Strauss. 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Aldine Transaction.

Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. eds. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith. International Publishers Co.

Grau, Janice, Jeffrey Fagan, and Sandra Wexler. 1984. “Restraining Orders for Battered Women:” Women & Politics 4(3): 13–28.

Grover, Chris, and Keith Soothill. 1996. “‘A Murderous ‘underclass’? the Press Reporting of Sexually Motivated Murder.” The Sociological Review 44(3): 399–415.

Haas, Michael. 1998. Multicultural Hawaii: The Fabric of a Multiethnic Society. Taylor & Francis.

Hall, Stuart, Chas Critcher, Tony Jefferson, John N. Clarke, and Brian Roberts. 1978. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order. 1st Ed. Palgrave Macmillan.

Harrell, A., and B. Smith. 1996. “Effects of Restraining Orders on Domestic Violence Victims.” Do arrests and restraining orders work: 214–42.

Henley, N. M., M. Miller, and J. A. Beazley. 1995. “Syntax, Semantics, and Sexual Violence Agency and the Passive Voice.” Journal of Language and Social Psychology 14(1-2): 60–84.

Herman, Edward S., and Noam Chomsky. 2002. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon.

Howe, Adrian. 1997. “‘The War Against Women’ Media Representations of Men’s Violence Against Women in Australia.” Violence Against Women 3(1): 59–75.

Jewkes, Yvonne. 2010. Media & Crime. Second Edition. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Kline, Sidney. 2010. Statistics on Domestic Violence Homicides in Hawai’i. Honolulu, HI: State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Kozol, W. 1995. “Fracturing Domesticity: Media, Nationalism, and the Question of Feminist Influence.” Signs 20(3): 646–67.

Lundman, Richard J. 2003. “The Newsworthiness and Selection Bias in News About Murder: Comparative and Relative Effects of Novelty and Race and Gender Typifications on Newspaper Coverage of Homicide.” Sociological Forum 18(3): 357–86.

Mason, Paul. 2006. “Lies, Distortion and What Doesn’t Work: Monitoring Prison Stories in the British Media.” Crime, Media, Culture 2(3): 251–67.

McDonald, M. G. 1999. “Unnecessary Roughness: Gender and Racial Politics in Domestic Violence Media Events.” Sociology of Sport Journal 16: 111–33.

McMullan, John L. 2006. “News, Truth, and the Recognition of Corporate Crime.” Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice/La Revue canadienne de criminologie et de justice pénale 48(6): 905–39.

Meyers, Marian. 1994. “News of Battering.” Journal of Communication 44(2): 47–63.

Ogle, Robbin, and Candice Batton. 2009. “Revisiting Patriarchy: Its Conceptualization and Operationalization in Criminology.” Critical Criminology 17(3): 159–82.

Okamura, Jonathan Y. 1992. “Why There Are No Asian Americans in Hawaiʻi: The Continuing Significance of Local Identity.” In Social Process in Hawaii: A Reader, ed. Peter Manicas. New York: McGraw-Hill, 243–56.

———. 2008. Ethnicity and Inequality in Hawai’i. Temple University Press.

Patton, Michael Quinn. 2002. Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Richards, Tara N., Lane Kirkland Gillespie, and M. Dwayne Smith. 2011. “Exploring News Coverage of Femicide: Does Reporting the News Add Insult to Injury?” Feminist Criminology 6(3): 178–202.

Rohrer, Judy. 2008. “Disrupting the ‘melting Pot’: Racial Discourse in Hawai’i and the Naturalization of Haole.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 31(6): 1110–25.

Sacco, Vincent F. 1995. “Media Constructions of Crime.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 539(1): 141–54.

Schwartz, Martin D., and Walter S. DeKeseredy. 1993. “The Return of the ‘Battered Husband Syndrome’ Through the Typification of Women as Violent.” Crime, Law and Social Change 20(3): 249–65.

Silent Witness. 2006. “States Results 2003.” http://www.silentwitness.net/states/us_map.htm.

Sorensen, C. A., B. Wood, and E. W. Prince. 2003. “Race and Ethnicity Data: Developing a Common Language for Public Health Surveillance in Hawaii.” Californian Journal of Health Promot 1(spec): 91–104.

Stanko, E. A. 2000. “Women, Danger, and Criminology.” Women, Crime, and Justice: Contemporary Perspectives: 13–26.

Surette, Ray. 2007. Media, Crime, and Criminal Justice: Images, Realities and Policies. 3rd ed. Wadsworth Publishing.

Taylor, Rae. 2009. “Slain and Slandered A Content Analysis of the Portrayal of Femicide in Crime News.” Homicide Studies 13(1): 21–49.

U.S. Census Bureau. 2006. State Rankings--Statistical Abstract of the United States: Violent Crimes Per 100,00 Population--2006. Washington DC.

———. 2010. Hawaii Quick Facts from the U.S. Census Bureau. Washington DC. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/15000.html.

U.S. Department of Justice. Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2010. Crime in the United States, 2010: Uniform Crime Reports Expanded Homicide Data. Washington DC. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded/expandhomicidemain.

Walby, Sylvia. 1989. “Theorising Patriarchy.” Sociology 23(2): 213–34.

Websdale, Neil, and Alexander Alvarez. 1998. “Forensic Journalism as Patriachal Ideology.” In Popular Culture, Crime, and Justice, eds. Frankie Y. Bailey and Donna C. Hale. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 123–41.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Attribution to include the author or artist's name, date of first publication,
and the name of our journal: Radical Criminology.
ISSN 1929-7904
(Print) | ISSN 1929-7912 (Online)