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Should reporting of things that men do become less gender neutral?

(28 Posts)
BrewsterToo Tue 19-Jan-16 10:55:44

I noted, after looking at the picture in this report, that the caption underneath says "Crowds with ISIS flags march past the provincial government offices in Mosul". In the photograph a crowd of men is seen walking on a street, not a woman in sight.

I was wondering whether it would help if captions like this actually state that these are crowds of MEN, not just crowds. Would it make it clearer and raise awareness that Isis is mainly a group of men, who do awful things to women, and not just some gender neutral crowd. Would it help men to see that it is men waging war and using terror and violence to abuse women, not some gender neutral institution like a state or movement or death cult. That it is a problem of MEN when women are systematically abused? Would it help to name it?

BrewsterToo Tue 19-Jan-16 11:05:24

Just to avoid confusion, the title of this thread would be clearer if the word "become" were replaced with "be". This better reflects my hypothetical pondering. Become is a bit odd perhaps.

FreshwaterSelkie Tue 19-Jan-16 13:26:10

Hmmm, I'm not sure about your example there, though I do see what you're driving at.

There is one example like this that I'd definitely like to see changed, and that is the phrase "a woman was raped". I'd like to see it routinely changed to "a man raped a woman", which you almost never see. That weasely passive voice for this drives me NUTS. Let's put the responsibility where it lies.

(and yes, in terms of UK law, if it's a rape, the perpetrator is a man but #notallmen etc etc etc before anyone starts).

LassWiTheDelicateAir Tue 19-Jan-16 13:39:57

Possibly if not clear from other sources.

In your example, given the photograph it doesn't seem necessary. "Crowds of men" is a bit clumsy. "Crowds of women" in that particular setting would be newsworthy.

BrewsterToo Tue 19-Jan-16 16:15:38

Freshwater, I absolutely agree with you. The active voice would be so much better! Although, I suppose newspapers would have to insert "allegedly" in there when the man is named, which I feel is has a connotation that the victim might be lying, and weakens the crime, if you see what I mean.

Lass, I have a feeling that spelling it out, even if it can be seen from the photograph, does add information. You see, we are so used to seeing people as male, that it doesn't even register that we are only talking about half the population. We assume that people (males) mean the whole population. When it is spelled out that it is men, only then it becomes clear that there are no women.

MelindaMay Tue 19-Jan-16 16:30:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BrewsterToo Tue 19-Jan-16 16:58:12

"Crowds of women would be newsworthy." That exactly shows my point. Crowds of men aren't, because they are seen to represent the whole of humanity, whereas women seem to only represent themselves (and their presence may therefore not be as important, because it's not everyone, it's "only" women). Wouldn't it become clearer that men might only represent men and not the whole of the population when we are actually told that it's just men marching?

MelindaMay, thanks for that link, very nuanced reading. It shows there are different purposes and effects to using passive and active voice, each can be used for and against women who have been raped. It is not useful to advocate for a rule not to use the passive voice ever in case of rapes. However, this article also states that research has shown that the passive voice reinforces rape myths in those already susceptible to rape myths, when no other information that encourages empathy with the victim is given. Like in a headline.

Grimarse Tue 19-Jan-16 17:29:58

.... the caption underneath says "Crowds with ISIS flags march past the provincial government offices in Mosul"

I cannot see where is says that. Have they changed the article after you posted the link?

TheWomanInTheWall Tue 19-Jan-16 18:14:21

JacksoN Thingimmy says similar in his Ted talk about avoidance of perpetrator focus in DV coverage.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Tue 19-Jan-16 18:26:34

Crowds of women would be newsworthy." That exactly shows my point. Crowds of men aren't, because they are seen to represent the whole of humanity, whereas women seem to only represent themselves

That isn't what I meant. In the context of this particular example crowds of women marching would be highly improbable.

In the context of this example "Crowds" means the people in the photograph.

FreshwaterSelkie Tue 19-Jan-16 18:36:03

Bugger, I wasn't planning on revising my stance on anything today, but now I've read MM's linked article, I think I might have to!

I can't argue with the nuance in that article, I'm no linguist and it will end up like a kitten with a ball of wool grin so I'm just going to take some time for a bit of reflection on it. I am still suffering from the hangover from school, being taught not to use the passive voice, and I though it meshed with a feminist point, but clearly there's more to it than that. Thinking.

PalmerViolet Tue 19-Jan-16 18:37:27

That exactly shows my point. Crowds of men aren't, because they are seen to represent the whole of humanity, whereas women seem to only represent themselves (and their presence may therefore not be as important, because it's not everyone, it's "only" women). Wouldn't it become clearer that men might only represent men and not the whole of the population when we are actually told that it's just men marching?

YY to this. Men as default humans is not ok, but is even less ok when set against the background of not being allowed to mention men when they commit violent crime. The way DV murders are reported is eye opening.

Movingonmymind Tue 19-Jan-16 18:43:35

Yes, similarly but in a far more trite vein, when i scan netflix etc for something to watch to relax, it's about 70-90% men (unless you count all the totty).
And rhen dh complains if i choose a chick flick. Which i tend not to like even buy theres so little choice! Default people on screen are men. Women are mere ornaments or minor characters eho are done to. How the hell can i relate to that as a normal woman? angry

FreshwaterSelkie Tue 19-Jan-16 18:55:17

Another YY to men being assumed to represent people, and women assumed to represent women.

A random aside, but an example of "male as default" - when 5:2 fasting first got big a few years ago, the evidence of it being a wonder diet for cholesterol lowering, blood pressure lowering, general health improving etc was much vaunted. In fact, next to none of the relevant research had been done on women, and in fact it turns out that 5:2 doesn't tend to work nearly so well on women (for a variety of reasons from differing hormonal profiles to greater susceptibility to eating disorders). But it's still reported on as a brilliant diet for everyone, because duh, men are everyone aren't they?

Movingonmymind Tue 19-Jan-16 18:59:28

Same with health matters on the whole- medication to stroke/heart attack symptoms. All male ones given as people ones. Some rationale for the former in that women of childbearing age generally exempted from trials due to level of risk to unborn child.

PalmerViolet Tue 19-Jan-16 19:07:42

Added to that moving that it is white male that is seen as default human when it comes to drug testing. There have been some drugs which have been shown to be miracles of modern medecine, until they are prescribed to PoC, especially women of colour. A blood pressure/statin is tickling my memory as an example of this. tested exclusively on white men, killed PoC.

claraschu Tue 19-Jan-16 19:11:05

Manchester United Men's football team...

England men's rugby team...

FreshwaterSelkie Tue 19-Jan-16 19:14:59

White-man-as-default is a huge topic when you start in on it, isn't it?

Movingonmymind Tue 19-Jan-16 19:25:25

It is, isn't it? And yet we feel odd for questioning it.

RufusTheReindeer Tue 19-Jan-16 19:54:26

I should learn

Mentioned this to dh as being interesting

He "cant believe" that they only test medicine on one type of person

"Loads of female dancers did the 5:2"

Heart attack symtoms are the same for men and women, I've told him they are different but i think he is waiting for proof

I also said that things are built for men, kitchen cabinets are quite high for your average woman even though its a "womans" area ( should have thought of a better example i know)

I may hit him...and honestly he is a lovely man, he just doesnt get why i find this stuff irritating

PalmerViolet Tue 19-Jan-16 20:09:40

Women's heart attack symptoms

Some are similar to men's, others are quite different.

scallopsrgreat Tue 19-Jan-16 20:17:51

I read an article yesterday (I won't link it was a bit heartbreaking) about family annihilators. All these poor children and other family members being murdered by people, except in EVERY example it was men do the murdering (and there were about six or seven cases just in this one article). This was positively avoided being stated despite the fact they did state that these 'people' killed their children to make their ex-partners (women) suffer. It just totally eradicates the power structures involved and who is perpetrating the violence on whom.

PalmerViolet Tue 19-Jan-16 20:33:31

I can well believe that.

Recently there was a man who drove his car off a pier (?) in South Australia with his children in the car with him. News reports had people describing him as a "typical Aussie bloke".

The way the media reports thing is bloody shameful at times.

CozyLinusBlanket Tue 19-Jan-16 20:53:11

Did you watch Jessica Jones movingon? Awesome, and getting a second series.

NotCitrus Tue 19-Jan-16 22:10:19

The World Cup for men's football.

Animal books. What about "The aardvark is grey with a long nose. The male is darker and dances to attract her." (knows nothing about aardvarks)

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