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Tailhook and the Construction of Sexual Harassment in the Media:“Rowdy Navy Boys” and Women Who Made a Difference

Tailhook and the Construction of Sexual Harassment in the Media:“Rowdy Navy Boys” and Women Who Made a Difference

Abstract

By examining the reporting of the Tailhook incident in the mainstream media, from the event itself through the conclusion of military and congressional debates about its meaning 5 years later, this article demonstrates that the media construct representations that are in accordance with the dominant gender ideology. The military's interpretation of Tailhook—“boys will be boys” with “party girls”—was contested by the women who were harassed and assaulted. Although the military's cover-up of the incident was interrupted by the intervention of powerful women in the Senate, media coverage reinforced the dominant view of sexual harassment.
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