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GUEST POST: “Warning” versus “claiming”: the subtle misogyny in media discourse

Graphic with a quote by Kirsty Rorrison that reads: "Language like “warning” suggests a level of trust in the speaker’s authority. When this is considered in the context of our patriarchal society, it becomes clear that gender accounts for these different portrayals of politicians."

This blog is part of a series of posts by student placements from the University of Strathclyde Applied Gender Studies and Research Methods course that Engender hosted in Spring 2022. We wanted to share Kirsty Rorrison's valuable research here on the GEMS site too.

Kirsty's final post continues research into gender bias in political news reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, she discusses how male and female politicians are quoted and referenced in the media, and how this language plays into wider patriarchal society.

For my third and final blog post, I want to discuss what my research found about female politicians and their news coverage relating to the pandemic. In my last post, I discussed my findings on journalism and COVID-19 in a more general sense; I showed that the topics reported on and who was writing about them seemed heavily linked with patriarchal gender norms. Now, I want to consider what I learned about women in politics based on their representations in news coverage of the pandemic.

Has it happened to you?

Gender Equal Media Scotland

by Professor Karen Boyle at the University of Strathclyde.

[CN: This blog contains mentions of sexual abuse and harassment]

At the end of April, as Westminster misogyny again reared its ugly head, I was invited on Nicky Campbell’s phone-in on Radio 5 Live, alongside Dr Charlotte Proudman (a feminist barrister and academic) and Nicky Clark (founder of the Act Your Age campaign). In case you’ve lost track of which Westminster-misogyny story happened when, the context was the Mail on Sunday story in which an anonymous Tory MP accused Angela Rayner of using her legs – like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct - to distract the Prime Minister during Prime Minister’s Questions.

There are many excellent responses to this story that explore the wider sexist culture which enabled it. I’m not going to rehash these arguments. Rather I want to reflect on a question Nicky Campbell asked Dr Proudman: did she have any similar experiences to share?

GUEST POST: Precedented inequalities in unprecedented times

Graphic with quote by Kirsty Rorrison that reads: Stereotypical gender roles and wider social structures inform the ways in which they [women] are represented, scrutinised, and even obscured - this can be even more complicated for women who experience oppressions due to their race, sexuality,  or other identities.

This blog is part of a series of posts by student placements from the University of Strathclyde Applied Gender Studies and Research Methods course that Engender hosted in Spring 2022. We wanted to share Kirsty Rorrison's valuable research here on the GEMS site too.

In this post, Kirsty introduces research into how gender bias in political news reporting has operated during the Covid-19 pandemic, and here discusses the impact the pandemic has had on women and minoritised communities, as well as it's wider representation in the media.

With the COVID-19 pandemic recently passing its two year anniversary, I’m sure many of us have been reflecting on the ways in which life has changed since the coronavirus first became a mainstream issue. We have all been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another - circumstances have changed personally, socially, politically and economically all across the world. However, while it may seem like everything in our society has fundamentally shifted, its underlying social structures have remained practically untouched. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen as something of a magnifying glass for the oppressive social institutions forming the bedrock of modern society. In these "unprecedented times,” some things have reflected the precedent more than ever.

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.

#PasstheMic - where are the women of colour in Scottish news?

by Professor Karen Boyle and Melody House at the University of Strathclyde, and Talat Yaqoob founder of Pass the Mic.

Pass the Mic is a project focusing on women of colour in Scottish news media. Initially an online database of women of colour experts, thanks to funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, from 2020-21 the project has expanded to undertake direct work with women of colour experts and media partners STV, The Herald, Sunday National, Daily Record, Scotsman, Courier and Holyrood magazine to challenge exclusionary cultures within news media and create a platform for the expertise of women of colour. This funding has also enabled them to undertake research to establish baseline information about where women of colour currently appear in Scottish news media in partnership with Gender Equal Media Scotland.

Read the previous blogs in the series here:

Tweets @EqualMediaScot

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