Muted resistance: The deployment of youth voice in news coverage of young women’s sexuality in Aotearoa New Zealand

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(c) The Author(s) 2019
Youth sexuality is typically constructed as a social problem, and associated with a range of negative consequences for larger society and for young people themselves—especially young women. The media play a role in perpetuating this dominant construction, but may also offer a space for resistance. In this article, mainstream news media reportage on youth sexual and reproductive issues in Aotearoa are discursively analysed to identify instances of resistance to oppressive discourses. Taking a feminist poststructuralist perspective, the aim is to connect news reporting, as a representational practice, with broader relations of power. The focus of the analysis, therefore, is on whether and how young people are allowed a voice in news reportage, and to what effect their voices are deployed. The analysis demonstrates not only that youth voice is relatively muted in comparison to experts, but also that it is frequently used to reinforce the dominant constructions of youth sexuality (as problematic and risky). Yet, instances of resistance are also evident. These are assessed in relation to their impact on gender power relations and possibilities for amplifying resistance are discussed.
sexuality, youth, news media, risk, discourse analysis, resistance
FEMINISM & PSYCHOLOGY, 2020, 30 (1), pp. 80 - 99