Mistresses, mothers, and headscarves: media representations of women in corruption scandals in Indonesia

Kanti Pertiwi, Teguh Wijaya Mulya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article engages with the ways through which women were discursively represented in media reports on corruption cases in Indonesia. Moving away from the traps of universalism and essentialism in conceptualising the causes and consequences of corruption, we unpack the dominant views and contextualise corruption in local-historical perspectives. Our main argument is that gendered meanings around women and corruption in Indonesian news media were constituted through the dominant religious and socio-political discourses; and the consequences were the (re)productions of stereotypical and simplistic meanings around women and corruption. Employing critical discourse analysis on 547 selected Indonesian newspaper articles reporting corruption scandals from 2010 to 2020, we identified three key discourses through which meanings around corruption and women were constituted, namely, a discourse of promiscuous sexuality, a discourse of moral ibuism, and a discourse of Islamic piety. The analysis drew attention to the importance of situating corruption and gendered media representation as an intersecting problem embedded in the social, political, religious, and historical contexts; as opposed to the dominant universal, objective, and positivist approaches to corruption studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2135-2151
Number of pages17
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2022


  • Corruption
  • discourse analysis
  • gender
  • Indonesia
  • media


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