November 13, 2012
The Leveson Inquiry
Royal Courts of Justice,
Abuse of Women in/by the Media – Leveson Inquiry Submission Three
“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.
With no response to my first two letters, I will continue to send updates on the state of the Press in the UK with the hope that you will take the responsibility given to you by the Government. In a recent letter I received from the Department of Media, Culture and Sport, they will not act on any of the concerns I have brought up with your Inquiry and the Prime Minister. They said they are going to wait to see what your recommendations are.
In the absence of any true leadership from the Government on the denigration of women in/by the media, we are left with the option of going to the police to stem the flow of obscenity from our Press. The Obscene Publications Act 1959, which was quoted by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport letter as the avenue to raise a complaint, it appears has had only one conviction since its inception. This doesn’t bode well for concerned citizens like myself who are seeing the erosion of value and the explosion of how women are sexualised in/by the Press.
The denigration has become so mainstream that we no longer see it. We are numb to it.
We made a formal complaint to the PCC on 22 October 2012 in response to the continued objectification of women in the London Evening Standard. We spoke with them yesterday and were informed that there is no part of the PCC that deals with complaints about the soft porn images in the print media. We are now investigating further as they keep a log of these complaints and share this with you. They did advise us that they have shared this information with the Leveson Inquiry so I am very keen to know what you are planning to do to stop this insanity. The set-up in it’s current form means that concerned people of the community have no where to go to stop the out-of-control press. They are unaccountable for their actions in this regard.
The Government’s response “However, the code does not cover mattes of taste and decency because what is offensive to one reader may be utterly innocuous to another” is unfortunately a stock standard response to the whole subject of sexualisation and objectification of women in the press. Are we not to be supported in our aim to reduce and remove the denigration of women in our newspapers, in print and online?
You must do something. For if not you, then who will, if the Government are unwilling to take any true responsibility here?
Or are we as concerned citizens, being forced by this unsupportive legislation, to go to the police and make a formal complaint when we see this abuse? Are the police not busy enough without having to deal with a Press that have created a system in which they are not held accountable? How convenient.
The question that urgently requires a response is; why are we continuing to defend a man’s right to ogle, over a child’s right to innocence?
The NSPCC has just released a report on the qualitative study of children, young people and ‘sexting’. It makes for shocking reading about the state of our children’s lives and what we have created. We are out of control – following numbly in the footsteps of the press.
From the report: Brian McNair (2002) has argued Western society has become a ‘striptease culture’ preoccupied with confession, revelation and exposure. This is connected to an ongoing breakdown or renegotiation of the boundary between public and private, which is itself the outcome of multiple, intersecting factors including the partial success of the women’s and sexual liberation movements, shifts in media regulation away from censorship and towards ‘an informed consumer model’ (Bragg & Buckingham, 2009), and the possibilities opened up by rapid technological change.”
“Perhaps the broadest level at which sexism operates in the young people’s lives is to be found in the deeply rooted notion that girls and young women’s bodies are somehow the property of boys and young men.”
Would you like this to be your daughter? Gang raped at the age of eleven by a group of ten or more fourteen-year-old boys outside her school? This is happening every day somewhere in London. And still the Government is taking no responsibility for the images our innocent children are seeing every day. The men that ogle are fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers and professionals and are seen as role models to our young men – those boys are upholding that behaviour as normal.
Why are we continuing to defend a man’s right to ogle, over a child’s right to innocence?
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.
Attached is a comprehensive dossier that has been compiled over a five-week period up to 11 November 2012. You will see that there is a pattern of language used and repetitive images proving we have an issue with the treatment of women in the UK press. Please let me know if you would like to see more examples of this trash we are allowing – there’s plenty more where that came from.
Seriously. We need to step up and take responsibility for the impact that the Media has on our attitude towards women and children.
I welcome any questions or for more information.
Sarah Michon Cloutier
PS. I’m reminded of the Library at Shawshank Prison and Andy Dufresne sending a letter every week to the state body asking for books and funding – and they gave him what he wanted to shut him up – let’s hope that works for us with the Leveson Inquiry …
9 thoughts on “Leveson Inquiry Submission Three”
Absolutely well said, Sarah.
Hi Sarah. …keep firing the ammunition, someone in the Leveson Inquiry will take be feeling your words
Wow Sarah you are on fire. Simply amazing to feel the strength and clarity in your writing.
Keep the great reading material arriving at their desks – drop by drop by drop…Shawshank analogy in the end 😉
Amazing work. It is incredible what we ‘accept’ in society after mass exposure and how hard it can be to shine a light on it once it has been ‘allowed’ for so long. I applaud you for pointing the light so strongly.
If only people would pause and allow themselves to feel the insidious harm and evil of the fact that “the denigration has become so mainstream that we no longer see it. We are numb to it.”
Well said, and we will keep on saying it again and again until our drops of truth start to erode the rocks of numbness and complacency.
Sarah keep them coming as how can this be ignored?
You write about Andy Dufresne sending a letter every week to the state body asking for books and funding and his getting what he wanted to shut him up, Sarah. I trust the integrity of the Leveson Inquiry will stop the denigration and abuse of women in the media because this call, on behalf of all of humanity, is true.
To see, read and hear about what is going on with our teenagers and pre-teens for that matter is devastating. No one wants to witness young girls allowing abuse to their bodies. It’s not about teenagers having sex anymore it’s about teenagers engaging in extreme, dangerous, rough, denigrating and abusive sexual behavior.
This isn’t about decency and morality — this is just COMMON SENSE. Common sense that if you normalise the use of women’s bodies as play things in the media then it becomes normal practice in the real world. As young girls look up to young women (not rocket science) this becomes normal for younger and younger girls — 11 year olds to use their bodies as sexual objects. So this is not about morality and some prudish women having a “sensitivity”, this is about COMMON SENSE.
It is about us (every single one of us) as members of this society to ask ourselves would we choose for our daughters or sisters to be ogled over as sexual objects. Would you go home and invite men from the pub into your house to stare at and get off on your wife as she bends over to tie her shoe laces? Would a mother invite the 16 year old boys from school in to ogle over her 13 year old daughter? For most the answer would be a resounding NO. but this is exactly what we do if we allow and stay silent when women’s bodies are allowed to be sexualised and objectified by the media. Because every single woman experiences this every single day of her life when she walks down the street. If we don’t want our friends, daughters, sisters and wives sexualised and ogled then we have to change the trend of this culture. It is NOT just the consensual right of a model to choose to expose herself and a reader to choose to ogle. This type of denigration of women affects all women and all girls in our every day life.