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New: “Realities beyond reporting: women environmental defenders in South Africa”

Author: Dalena Tran

Read now the new research article of Dalena Tran about women environmental defenders in South Africa.

Now available on the Journal of Feminist Media Studies.


Women environmental defenders continue to face marginalization despite their growing significance in ecological conflicts. The media’s role in empowering or further rendering them invisible is unclear. This study thus examines depictions of South African women defenders in news articles. A feminist critical discourse analysis of 98 media reports about 48 conflicts suggests a typology of the conflicts and the women involved. I argue that media depictions of women defenders can sometimes enact discursive violence by imposing agendas and stereotypes that do not reflect their lived realities. This study identifies two tropes depicting women defenders as desperate mothers or underdogs, which empowers yet silences diverse women in diverse ways. The implications of such archetypes are that reporting may not only oversimplify the complexity of their experiences, but also contribute to pressures on women to be self-sacrificing and docile.

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