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When Words Fail: The Way Institutions Talk about Sarah Everard Matters

A graphic with a quote from Dr. Miranda Barty-Taylor that reads: "To indicate a degree of choice on Sarah’s part is to disregard the power dynamic which removed her agency altogether. It also assigns women the task of keeping themselves safe, which once again elides men’s role in their violence."

[CN: violence against women, police violence]

In this blog post, Gender Equal Media Scotland's Development Officer, Dr. Miranda Barty-Taylor, discusses the language used by institutions in the wake of the Sarah Everard case and trial, and the epidemic of violence against women and girls in the UK. This blog entry largely refers to UK institutions.

I am grappling with my unproductivity, as my concentration veers from a report on gender equality in the media to the horrifying details emerging from the trial of Sarah Everard’s killer. I suppose it is little wonder; while half my brain analyses the discourses being reproduced in the inevitable public discussion of the trial, the other half is reeling from the fear she must have felt. Just as I deconstruct the ideologies behind the Met’s next statement, I feel again an incandescence of anger that is too bright to bear. The language coming from sites of political and police power is so very problematic, reinforcing misogynistic norms and neglecting to acknowledge the crisis of men’s violence against women.

Violence against women and girls is an epidemic in the UK, reports Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). In March Johnson made a statement about the Safer Streets fund, which the Government doubled to £45 million, to be spend on streetlights and CCTV. The language he uses about violence against women and girls is revealing: we need to “better protect and defend them.” This construction positions women and girls as dependent and weak, requiring the strength of male-dominated institutions such as the criminal justice system to look after their interests. Framed in such a way, more streetlights might make sense. However, it is far removed from the “radical and bold” action called for by the HMICFRS. Meanwhile the cuts to 60% of local authority domestic abuse refuges further underline the lack of political will to fund existing women’s services on the front line of men’s violence.

From Guilt Trips to Cat Fights: Gender stereotypes in Brexit news

By Melody House, University of Strathclyde

It is no secret that media reporting around women is problematic. From ‘page 3 girls’ to racist and sexist articles about the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, British media has a history of belittling, stereotypical writing on women. This is especially true when women occupy roles that traditionally ‘belong’ to someone else. It’s part of why we see the bad press surrounding Markle, as well as the sexist and often demeaning reporting of women in conventionally ‘male’ professions.

As such, when Gender Equal Media Scotland (GEMS) tasked me with monitoring news around Brexit, I was intrigued to see what I would find. GEMS asked me to monitor the news around Brexit for three days (14-16 January 2019), and present my findings in a series of blogs. My first blog focused on the statistical representation of women in the Brexit media. Here, I will focus on both the good and bad journalistic practice I came across in those three days.

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