WHEN A WAR IS NOT A WAR: Abortion, Desert Storm, and Representations of Protest in American TV News

Ginna Husting, Boise State University


In this article I juxtapose American media coverage of the Gulf war and the war on abortion in 1991 to trace the meanings and possibilities for identity and activism mobilized by both. While the two wars seem unrelated, I examine the techniques through which the news coverage of both marginalized social protest and women's place within the national imaginary. In the news, protesters and women were positioned outside the sphere of normal politics and reasonable opinion. In this way, the news created a mythic community of “people like us” in opposition to women and activists. Through this marginalization of protest, broadcast news contained the threat of activism to the national imaginary of the United States in both conflicts.