Mass Media Misogyny (oh, and a bit of right wing bias as well)

I would absolutely love it if there were such a thing as fair and balanced journalism somewhere. Here in New Zealand we have two main news organisations; the New Zealand Herald, and Fairfax, who are mostly known for the website Stuff, who have a massive hard on for the current ruling political party, National. Of course, like most right leaning organisations, they’re also full of a good dose of misogyny.

Take for example the shining piece published on Stuff today about Opposition Leader David Cunliffe’s speech at a Women’s Refuge symposium:

He spoke of the “bullshit, deep-seated sexism” still prevalent in New Zealand.

“It needs to stop,” he said.

“I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man,” Cunliffe said, “because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.”

Now, I’m not sure what kind of style guide Stuff is asking its writers to follow, but I don’t see any reason for the second dialogue tag in that quote, except to break the quote up into a nice little sound bite that can be used completely out of context. Of course, both major news sites in New Zealand used that exact phrase – “I’m sorry for being a man” – in the headline inviting criticism from the large number of people who merely skim over the rest of the article.

Of course, Stuff opened comments on this story, and what followed was basically a wall of text that could be broken down into a single phrase: “not all men” (as an aside, I’d really like to know what Stuff’s policy on opening comments really is, because it seems kind of arbitrary that they would open it up on stories about certain organisations, but I rarely see it in other situations).

This all follows the Labour party’s attempt at combating gender inequality by instituting a quota in their party list, often called the Man Ban in the media, because, you know, the only reason men are the majority when it comes to being in elected office is because they’re so much better at it (insert sarc-mark here). They keep jumping on to Western society’s usual song of “women/non-white races/whatever minority aren’t oppressed because we don’t stop them from voting or owning property or whatever, we’re going to treat everyone based on their own merits” without realising that it’s their own latent prejudices that are in fact a tool of oppression that stop non-white, non male, non cisgender, non heterosexual people from raising to the same heights.

And then we have our Prime Minister, the Smiling Assassin himself (I personally call him the Smiler because he reminds me so much of the character from Transmetropolitan), John Key, who is probably the most powerful man (in this country at least) to have ever uttered “not all men”.

“It’s a pretty silly comment from David Cunliffe,” Key said.

“The problem isn’t being a man, the problem is if you’re an abusive man, and I think it’s a bit insulting to imply that all men are abusive.

“A small group are and they need to change their behaviour and be held to account.

“Is he really sincere about that statement? Tomorrow afternoon is he going to go down to the local rugby club and say ‘I’m sorry for being a man’? I don’t think so.”

The thing is that if you are an abusive man, you’re not going to admit it to yourself. The thing is that there are abusive men, and those men who aren’t abusive need to support women by listening to them, and actually hold those men who are abusive to account. Instead of saying “women are abusive as well” to shrug off the issue of male violence, realise that the two issues are equally important. Encourage all victims of abuse of all kinds, of all genders, to come forward, and make sure that all abusers are held to account, and that our children are shown that in no way that abuse is acceptable.

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