Tracing the Life of a Crime Category: The Shifting Meaning of 'Date Rape'

Sarah Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article traces the shifting meaning of ‘date rape’ in US newspapers across a fourteen year period. A crime category created by a niche feminist press, ‘date rape’ originally referred to a form of intimate-partner violence, and has, more latterly, come to refer predominantly to an assault that occurs after a victim has had a drug, such as Rohypnol, surreptitiously slipped into her drink. Employing quantitative content analysis to explicate this shift, this article considers possible explanations for the changing meaning of ‘date rape’, including the applicability of the risk thesis and criminological theory on the de-politicisation of crime. Finally, I suggest that a feminist perspective allows us to recognise that 'date rape' has been transformed from an issue of female disempowerment into a nebulous threat of limited ideological significance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-465
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Date Rape
  • Media
  • Tyson
  • Kennedy
  • Rohypnol
  • Drink Spiking

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