Sunday, October 4, 2009

Media Backlash: Keeping things the way they used to be

My awareness of the backlash against feminism has become acute, particularly when in the mainstream media, particularly in misrepresentation of facts, figures and even words. As newspapers are my preferred medium, let me use headlines to make my point.

Today's Observer carries the headline

Up to 64,000 women in UK 'are child-sex offenders'
After Plymouth case shocked the nation, police say number of women abusing children is rising

The ilk of the story is that women are growing in numbers as abusers. But, I would suggest awareness of women being abusers is increasing - that there has been no change in the behaviour of women, that we are not becoming this evil out of control gender but it's just impossible to continue to tie us down to wishy washy delicate lady stereotypes.

Added to this, the coverage of working mums supposedly failing their kids - I griped about that previously, but this time rather than the evil sexual deviant, women who work are simply tutted at for deserting their proper place in the home.

Both stories in their own way begin to paint a picture of women out of control, that their behaviour, now masculine and undesirable, is the cause of all social ills.

Coupled with the fact the real winning articles in women's interest are arts and crafts, it's ok to wear make-up, bat your eyes, femininity is feminism and we can see a clear remodelling of women's place in society.

There is room to remind the mainstream audience that feminism isn't at odds with femininity but to do so often comes at the cost of reinforcing the idea of old, hairy, women's libbers, the "undesirables". And to do so, creates a bigger crevice between all women and feminists, and calls for a pat on the back to the reclaimation of something which remains a want of the patriarchy. And every day I see a little more how damaging this is to us all.

We should leave open the ability to criticize, to discuss certain parts of life - but the work/life balance is the problem, not women's behaviour if working mothers have no choice but to sacrafice time at home. Mainstream medias inability to see men in the picture of the family and childcare is another block in the road of progression. And as long as we allow ourselves to feed and condone a media system which thrives on supporting trad and damaging stereotypes, we continue to hold back the change we're fighting for.



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