Since footballer sexual assault became top news in 2004, six
years after the first case was reported, much has been written in
the news media about individual cases, footballers and women who
have sex with them. Deb Waterhouse-Watson reveals how media
representations of recent sexual assault cases involving Australian
footballers amount to "trials by media", trials that result in
acquittal. The stories told about footballers and women in the news
media evoke stereotypes such as the "gold digger", "woman scorned"
and the "predatory woman", which cast doubt on the alleged
victims'' claims and suggest that they are lying. Waterhouse-Watson
calls this a "narrative immunity" for footballers against
allegations of sexual assault.
This book details how popular conceptions of masculinity and
femininity inform the way footballers'' bodies, team bonding,
women, sex and alcohol are portrayed in the media, and connects
stories relating to the cases with sports reporting generally.
Uncovering similar patterns of narrative, grammar and discourse
across these distinct yet related fields, Waterhouse-Watson shows
how these discourses are naturalised, with reports on the cases
intertwining with broader discourses of football reporting to
provide immunity. Despite the prevalence of stories that discredit
the alleged victims, Waterhouse-Watson also examines attempts to
counter these pervasive rape myths, articulating successful
strategies and elucidating the limitations built into journalistic
practices, and language itself.