Senior Theses

Publication Date

Spring 5-25-2023

Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Sociology


Sociology and Anthropology

Faculty Advisor(s)

Leslie Walker

Subject Categories



Fatima Cecilia was seven years old when she went missing from the gates of her elementary school in Mexico City. She was last seen on February 11th, 2020, walking hand in hand with an unidentified woman. Four days later, her body was found in a plastic bag; she had been sexually assaulted. This case shook the nation and served as a reminder of the fear and danger that girls face every day. On average, ten women a day are killed in Mexico, half of them by a significant other or someone they knew (Villegas, 2020 p1). Women not only face the fear of violence in the streets or in their homes but they are burdened with a corrupt and overworked criminal justice system. This has created a dynamic where many don’t have faith in the system, and those with money can get away with almost anything. Much of the violence on the streets is attributed to the drug trade, and although the Mexican government declared a war on drug violence in 2006, there have been around 360,000 drug-trafficking-related homicides since the start of that initiative. Despite there being a direct correlation between Narcos (drug traffickers) and violence on the streets, rather than being taken accountable Narcos have become folklore figures and portrayed in the media as something to aspire to (Acosta Ugalde, 2015).

Media such as Narcocorridos or Narco television shows have only further promoted the idea of Narcos as intelligent businessmen, living luxurious lifestyles where they are not only feared but respected. Narcos are often compared to a sort of Robin Hood, coming from humble backgrounds and giving back to their communities. Along with Narco culture come not only traditional values of family and loyalty but also machismo, violence, and the objectification of women innate in this culture. Narcos contribute to violence against women in multiple ways, ranging from criminal activity to symbolic violence and oppression through gender norms. Narco violence has further overburdened an already overloaded and corrupt criminal justice system, one where the police have more cases than they can handle, and where citizens don’t trust them to keep them safe. In this thesis, I argue that the glorification of Narco culture, and in this case, the consumption of Narco shows, creates a discourse that normalizes the subordination of women in Mexican society while ultimately creating a desensitization of street violence and subsequently femicide.

In the past, research on femicide has largely been studied from a political science lens, often establishing drug violence as a prominent factor (Valdez & Ivette, 2014). In addition, past studies on Narco media have outlined power dynamics and gender performance (Haas & Gonzales, 2019). In this study, I aim to demonstrate how Narco media is problematic and violent in its portrayal of women thus, normalizing sexism and creating conditions where femicide is normalized. For my primary research methods, I will conduct a qualitative content analysis on four mainstream Narco shows where I observe and analyze the role and portrayal of female characters. While watching and analyzing the shows I was interested in asking the following questions: How are women portrayed in these shows, especially in relation to the male characters? Is Narco culture glorified in this media? And what is a woman’s role in the Narco world as illustrated on these shows? This work is valuable because as Narco media and shows continue to grow in popularity, it is important to understand the deeper implications of this media, and how discourse shapes our world and can have impactful consequences in public opinion and policy.

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Sociology Commons