Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Arts


Peggy Bowie


Sean Cassidy


Robert Caldwell


This study analyzes the media coverage of the hearings established to address the accusations of sexual harassment made toward Judge Clarence Thomas by Professor Anita Hill in October of 1991. The purpose of the study is to determine and examine the methods by which the media subtly shape society's opinions and, therefore, society's definitions of reality in regard to the subject of sexual harassment. This study is approached from a feminist perspective. The methods by which the media cover sexual harassment are important to society's understanding of the issue. The media guide individuals in the formulation of the meanings which define those individuals' beliefs on sexual harassment. The treatment accorded to this event by the media will be analyzed from a liberal feminist and a patriarchal framework, two opposing ideological viewpoints that are relevant to the issue of sexual harassment, to discover which ideological perspective, if any, dominated the information which society received from the media It is the hypothesis of this study that the media constructed a patriarchal perspective via their presentation of the event. The derivation of the meanings inherent in the messages which the media presented as whole "facts" to society is critical to an understanding of the influence of the media on society since it is from the media that the public gleans its own version of reality. In the case of sexual harassment, such an understanding is especially critical to women who function in a class-based society in which men hold power.