Journalism and Gender


It is also predicatable they will be deeply upset to discover that the operator in control of Cruise is a mature life-loving woman who cherishes peace just as much as most of us. ” Gelhorn’s language denotes a broadly supportive woman writing from her own perspective while using colour and words which reflect what she sees. The tone is respectful and balanced. She clearly admires the women and to an extent patronises them – describing one as “pretty” – but the text is not sexist or anti-male. It is responsible and ethical journalism. Vine’s piece contains standard Mail components.

The language is both patronising – “… a sprig of a girl… “, and macho – “… the only woman…capable of obliterating Leningrad… “. He describes the servicewoman as a bespectacled blonde, as if in comparison to the average protestor, then steers the reader towards the cutting quote about faces lacking in makeup and being a liberationalist, not feminist. The condescending tone is captured perfectly in the last sentence. Taken as a whole, the article dehumanises the protestors by suggesting they are not real women. Juley <<correct>>

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Howard, 36, told the Guardian of August 6, 2002 how at 16 she “had an image of the women as a bunch of wretches” and had read in the Daily Mail that they pinned their sanitary towels to the fence. To what extent had gender-biased distortion affected her impressionable young mind? MORE PEACE 4 In a Sun story of December 14, 1982 headlined The Ugly Face of The Sisters of Peace, reporters Kieran Sanders and Victoria Chapple write: “The ugly face of women’s protest emerged at Greenham Common yesterday when an anti-nuclear campaign degenerated into a cruel battle of the sexes.

Twelve hours after the 30,000-strong army of concerned housewives and grandmothers had gone home the police had to battle with the mainly hard-core left- overs…

Police, who played a softly-softly game and made only three arrests, were accused by the screaming horde of nipple twisting, groping and strong arm tactics… Militant feminists and burly lesbians were apparently the storm troops in the front line. They were backed by tattooed and painted faced punks and skinheads who apparently couldn’t tell the difference between a missile site and a roller disco. ” Here language is used as a weapon against women. The words “ugly face” are used both in the headline and the intro, close to “sisters” and “women”.

The scene is described as a battle of the sexes, but no evidence is offered. By saying: “… concerned housewives and grandmothers had gone home… “, the writers somehow suggest home is where these respectable females belong. They claim police battled with “mainly hard-core left-overs”, implying a fight with scum, then say officers played a softly-softly game, but faced accusations from the “screaming horde”. Protestors are labelled as militant feminists and burly lesbians acting as storm troops, without any evidence whether this is relevant or factual.

The women are then ridiculed by claims they were mixed up over a missile site and a roller disco. Aggressive and confused language is used here. The tone can be identified as hysterical, anti-female and pro-establishment. A story about a protest against nuclear weapons with three arrests turns into a tirade against non-conformist women. MORE PEACE 5 However, reportage can be found in the archives which does not resort to gender stereotyping or inappropriate and unprofessional references to sex or sexual orientation. Unlike the previous examples lacking the reaction, quotes or right of reply which ethical writers should have granted the women, some contemporary features are models of responsible journalism. Writing in the London Standard of December 2, 1981, Yvonne Roberts says:

“The ‘mushroom people’ count as many carnivores among themselves as vegetarians; more women than men; and as few stereotypes as in the average bus queue. ‘Why did I get involved? ‘ says Eunice from her home in the Swansea valley, preparing to return to the camp. ‘I just felt it was such a terrible thing I was leaving to my descendants. I had to do something. Mind you, at 60, my family all tried to persuade me I should stay at home and do my knitting. But I’ve never had such a good time’. ”

Has the situation improved today? Garry Otton thinks not. The Glasgow-based writer runs Scottish Media Monitor, an on-line press watchdog which campaigns for gay rights and gender equality. For the period December 2002 – January 2003, he finds Scotland on Sunday’s Gerald Warner taking a swipe at the New Year honours list. “Possible titles include the Order of the Repeal of Section 28 (almost inevitably on a pink ribbon). ”

Meanwhile, the Scottish News of the World splashes on pop band manager Tam Paton, who had been convicted of sex offences, with the headline “Manager’s Evil Lust for The Rollers”. Describing Paton as a “sexual predator” the paper interviews former band member Pat McGlynn who says Paton tried to rape him five times. A picture of the obese and balding Paton overshadowed a photo of the teenage, baby-faced McGlynn. “Everything the paper could have hoped for was captured… reinforcing the stereotype of a pervert,” Otton comments. Brothers and sisters of the press, it seems we still have a long way to go.


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