Sunday, March 4, 2007

How the news media overlooks gendered violence

Jackson Katz has mentioned in the past that the news media does a really poor job of reporting "gendered" violence. For example, when a man goes on a killing spree and happens to kill only women, nobody mentions the fact that it is likely motivated by a particular ideology that shows contempt for women. This is not the case when we're talking about racial murders, or murders of homosexuals. And that's not to say that the media does a good job at reporting the phenomena of racism and homophobia (because they don't) but rather to underscore how they seem to have collective blinders with regards to gender-based violence.

Exhibit A: this morning, the news broke about a man accused of brutally killing and dismembering his wife. Seems like a pretty open-and-shut motivation--he likely wanted control over her, and she likely wasn't giving him enough. I say this being completely oblivious to the facts of the case, but lo and behold, upon more careful examination, the following motivation is revealed:

Police say the day the 34-year-old businesswoman went missing, the Grants argued over her frequent business trips abroad.

If he wanted to spend more time with her, seems like murdering her is a poor way to do it, huh? Unless it was really about power and control.

Now will there be any analysis of the links to domestic violence in the media? Probably not. Any mention of power and control? Certainly not. Or gender ideologies of superiority? Absolutely no way. And it's not like these are fringe ideas, either--they're part of the Center for Disease Control's violence prevention models, and we all know how slow government is to catch onto things like this.

Granted, the story has only been out there for a few hours, so hopefully we'll get some more investigative reporting as time goes on. Some would argue that the homogenous news reporting on issues like this has to do with the fact that all major media companies are owned by six corporations. Except it's even more insidious than that, because most of what they get news-wise actually comes from central distribution groups like the Associated Press. This is probably why in the first few hours, everyone in the United States is subjected to an identical viewpoint that reflects the opinion of one news corporation (which is a little too Big Brother-esque for me to contemplate for more than a few seconds at a time).

I never thought I'd say this on this blog, but the dearth of competition really has hurt all of us.


Andrew said...

For the record, I love Jackson katz.

There was recently a spate of men-killing-women in Toledo, Oh, and I didn't see any news reporting indicating that these killings were anything more than isolated incidents.

I was thinking about something, when watching a Law and Order episode, that something must seriously be wrong with our culture that when a married woman is killed, her husband (who should be the LAST person suspected) is the prime suspect.

Naomi said...

I'm pretty sick of that too. If a woman was killing all men, she'd immediately be labeled some kind of radical feminist nazi. :P