Trying to sum up society and the complex ways that our cultural systems feed into each other is like trying to explain quantum physics to a five year old. However Fixed It, Jane Gilmore’s new book which uncovers the gender biases present in the reporting of men’s violence against women, is a pleasure to read. Jane has brilliantly categorised these systemic inequalities, illustrating ways that centuries of crime reporting now inform what we expect from the very people whose job is to tell society about itself.
From men covering "real news" while sidelining women to "women's news" - this division will always be evident as long as straight, white, cis men are seen as the default - to the lack of women in editorial roles, attempts at more palatable language erasing the crime/perpetrator/victim and the madonna-whore complex and good-guy tropes reinforcing old fashioned gendered stereotypes.
At this stage, we’d like to pause and acknowledge that this is a pretty frank discussion of some hard topics like sexual assault, rape and domestic abuse. While this discussion uses very binary language, we acknowledge that trans and gender non-conforming people are more likely than cis people to experience violence in their lifetime. If these topics are triggering, please proceed carefully. Help is always available.
Journalism is a reflection of our society and the way we write about men who commit crimes and the women who have these crimes committed against them says a lot about who we are. From the inapt term "non-consensual sex" (spoiler: non-consensual sex is rape) to the trope of the "good guy" who neighbours just can't believe was carted away with lights and sirens. To women's clothing being mentioned (in a headline, where we expect the few words to be taken up by the most important details) as if it could excuse violence committed against them. She was wearing underwear - scandalous! She was walking outside! She was drunk! She denied her husband sex! She was shrill! He couldn't help it!
Headlines are the way many of us consume news so accurate, informative and non-sensational language should be of the highest importance.
Silent Arrow is proud to host a conversation with Jane Gilmore in store on Wednesday the 23rd of October. Tickets are free, there will be wine and cheese (with vegan options) as well as the opportunity to have your own copy of Fixed It signed by Jane.
The book will be available for purchase on the night. RSVPs essential, please visit our event listing for more details.