“ANY FAILURE WITHIN THE MEDIA AFFECTS ALL OF US”
Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearings on 14 November 2011, saying: “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?”
I call on the Leveson Inquiry to establish a monitor for the Abuse of Women in/by the Media and to create a platform for this type of journalism to stop as part of Module 4: Submissions on The Future Regime for the Press.
In July, London lit up with the opening ceremony of London 2012. During the event, the Suffragettes were wheeled out to show how far we had advanced as a society and how far we’d come as a western civilisation. Have we really?
There are some male dominated industries, journalism is one – and I have worked in film and television for over 25 years – I know all about the aside remarks about my arse, snide comments, stares at my breasts, sexual innuendo, put downs in meetings and judgement of my capability based on the fact that I have a vagina (yes, that word again). I have endured the whistles from builders, groping in nightclubs and pubs and the inevitable judgment on my appearance, comments on the length of my skirt, the tightness of my jeans/t-shirt etc.
Now as a General Manager for a film post production company, and having worked my way up the ranks, I still have to deal with the “don’t get emotional” comments when I need to manage a difficult situation at work. I call it when it happens, and I can change my work environment because I am the boss. This attitude, and the fact that men feel they can make comments like this, is perpetuated by the onslaught of soft porn and opinion-based ‘journalism’ we are bombarded with from the mainstream media today.
If you haven’t read them already, please feel free to review the links here from recent ‘stories’ about Kristen Stewart, Geri Halliwell, Page 3 Girls, and you will see that we have not evolved one iota – the Media continues to treat women as play things and mindless twits who allegedly hug teddy bears, seek spiritual support – or better still – just get their kit off and act like a porn star. These three examples took me all of two minutes to find on The Sun* online – and these are accessible to young women all over the world. Is that how you would like your daughter, niece, granddaughter, girlfriend, sister or wife portrayed. Or are you OK with the continued denigration of women on a daily basis? We have reduced women to objects (again) and technology has brought it onto the phones of our children – I strongly feel that more responsibility is needed from the Media and its regulators.
Now I know most men will say – “Love, if you don’t like it then don’t read it, you sensitive little thing.” With a patronising tone aimed at belittling any feeling of objectification these stories/publications have on women. And I know there are some women who would discount this opinion with “Don’t be a prude – you just need a f*&k/vodka/chocolate”.
Amazing women inspire me, it’s simple mathematics that there are no stories written about them in the media – those representations don’t interest the Editors, obviously, as they believe they won’t sell papers. The print industry is dying and they need to sensationalise and sexualise stories about women to drive people to their websites.
We are supposedly in a modern western society where women have the right to choose what we study, where we work, where we live, whom we marry, what we wear, whom we date, what we eat and the life we live. There are other women in the world who do not have these freedoms and are still subjected to witch hunts, stoning, slavery, forced marriages and lives of abuse.
Through lack of responsibility, we continue to perpetuate a society that condones the abuse of women. This type of behaviour is certainly not allowed in the workplace and, after studying UK and Australian HR law; this behaviour regularly gets employers and perpetrators into a world of litigation. Yet we allow it every day in our press and media. Why is that?
The Australian press (Courier Mail, News Corp*) has made claims this weekend that women who seek truth and a loving way of life are gormless, mindless followers and that we don’t have the intelligence to choose how we live. The blatant approval of sexual abuse in the article is simply shocking. The author states that one of the healing techniques offered by female practitioners caused women “to not allow their partners to touch [their breasts] without permission”.
There in-lies a deep fracture in the Media and how it portrays women as a whole. Less concerning is the drivel of two men’s opinion thinly veiled as ‘journalism’ – more devastating is the impact of this tirade of derogatory and misogynistic attitude towards women by mainstream media.
The Australian Newspaper published a story on 31 August 2011 detailing the “Frightening’ rise in domestic violence in Australia. According to the NSPCC, states that “Including all costs, the total cost of domestic abuse for the state, employers and victims is estimated at around £16 billion per year.”
The Crown Prosecution Service (UK) released a transcript – Domestic Violence: the facts, the issues, the future – Speech by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC (posted 12 April 2011) – it states some chilling facts:
- Nearly 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year
- At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence
- Two women are killed each week by their partner or ex-partner
- 54 per cent of women victims of serious sexual assault were assaulted by their partner or ex-partner
- Victims of domestic violence are more likely to experience repeat victimisation than victims of any other types of crime
- 76 per cent of all DV incidents are repeat
- Women experience an average of 35 incidents of domestic violence before reporting an incident to the police
- 19 per cent of women have experienced stalking since the age of 16
These statistics are our sisters, daughters, nieces, granddaughters, wives, mothers and friends.
His closing statement is one for reflection; “The steps that we and our criminal justice partners are taking to tackle domestic violence risk limited success unless this complacency is tackled head on. A change in attitude is clearly needed.”
Where are we headed if all the rates of domestic violence, violence towards women are increasing?
The Leveson Inquiry has a responsibility to consider guidelines, recommendations and regulations on the Abuse of Women in/by the Media to ensure we arrest this momentum. We need to leave a foundation for our children and our future generations that respects women and shows that there is another, more caring way to treat women that will inevitably benefit men and our society as a whole.
Seriously. Enough with our complacent attitude towards the treatment of women in our society by the Media. We need to step up and take responsibility for the impact that the Media has on our attitude towards women.
I welcome any questions or for more information.
(address/number sent but withheld from this blog)
(*This is not solely about News Corporation, though they are the most overt in their representation of women in their publications so are an obvious ‘out’ for this type of journalism.)