A Bathroom in Brooklyn and a Wood Fence in Wyoming: "Showing and Hiding" Gender in High Profile Crimes

Ed Gallagher, Fordham University

Through a content analysis, assisted by Karen Cerulo's work on violence (1998), of two high-profile crime cases, this paper examines gender in crimes which involve men. Newspaper accounts of the murder case of Matthew Shepard by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson as well as the torture case of Abner Louima at the hands of Police Officer Justin Volpe are examined in the light of recent theorizing of gender and, more specifically, masculinities. These accounts are an instance of, what Bourdieu calls, "one of those cases where the visible, that which is immediately given, hides the invisible which determines it." This paper argues that while sexuality and race are certainly salient aspects, gender has a more profound influence on the structure of these crimes. Insights from newsmaking criminology applied to these cases illustrates the ways in which news both "shows and hides" gender, while directing attention elsewhere and, therefore, aiding in the reproduction of gender violence.

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Updated 05/20/2006