Woman in danger or dangerous woman? Contesting images of Filipina victims of domestic homicide in Australia

Cleonicki Saroca

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This paper explores the contesting images of two Filipino women in Australia-both victims of domestic homicide-as 'woman in danger' and 'dangerous woman'in the narratives of their families and friends and Australian and Philippines' newspapers. 'Woman in danger' and 'dangerous woman' are flexible and heterogeneous discourses in which meanings are always contested and shifting. To their families and friends, Gene and Elma were women in danger-at the hands of the men they loved, in the court trials of their killers, and in Australian media accounts. Similar representations of Gene and Elma emerged in the Philippines' articles where fear of Australian men is a pervasive theme. The discourse is framed as a warning to Filipino women about the dangers of marrying foreign men. While the woman in danger in the Australian articles may be a victim of an abusive partner, the image hinges on the notion of a poor woman who needs to be rescued from the poverty of the Philippines by an Australian man. By representing Gene and Elma as dangerous women, Australian journalists mask the reality of their lives. Images represented were of Gene as a gold-digging opportunist who used an Australian man as a passport to Australia and Elma physically and emotionally abusing her husband, which silenced the domestic violence both women experienced in their marital relationships. Recasting relations of violence in this way shifts responsibility away from their killers and onto the women themselves. Portrayals of Gene and Elma as women in danger and dangerous women in the Australian and the Philippines' articles were frequently intertwined with their (mis)representation as 'mail order brides.' While Filipino journalists often reinforced stereotypes of Filipino women, they provided more culturally sensitive and informed accounts than many Australian journalists. The narratives of Gene and Elma's families and friends revealed that media images did not reflect Filipino women's realities, but are in themselves sites of conflict over constructions of identity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35-74
    JournalAsian Journal of Women's Studies
    Volume12
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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