Toward authenticity : using feminist theory to construct journalistic narratives of maternal violence
Scholars suggest we construct stories or narratives to help us create order and rationalize events that are difficult to explain. In contemporary society, journalists serve as mediated storytellers, and one story journalists have told from the perspective of sense-making is that of mothers who kill their children, a crime that can defy understanding. This qualitative textual analysis examines ten cases of maternal infanticide to determine the collective narrative told by journalists, exploring the dialectical and rhetorical functions of narrative. The analysis reveals that the news narrative offers moral lessons about the consequences of maternal incompetence and “inappropriate” feminine sexual behavior. The author questions whether the journalistic paradigm of detachment—traditionally associated with a masculine narrative style—is the best way to tell stories of women's lives and suggests feminist research practices can be used to capture the complexities of mothering work, as well as other complicated situations in women's and men's lives.