Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Bennett - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Jaye Atkinson

Third Advisor

Dr. Marian Meyers


The Rideout trial in 1978 was the first case in the United States in which a wife charged her husband with rape while the couple was still living together. This thesis furthers research in the area of marital rape by examining the press coverage through textual analysis. The scope of the research is limited to newspaper coverage (local and national) and the subsequent made-for-television movie based on the trial. As a case study, the Rideout trial illustrates how the press has covered sexual assault in the United States—especially during the height of the 1970s women’s movement. The findings indicate that through the execution of various rape-centered scripts, traditional rape stereotypes were perpetuated and only a few were challenged. This perpetuation led to an initial invalidation of marital rape, including Greta Rideout’s claim of rape.


Included in

Communication Commons