A Dose of Stupid v120

It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:

55% Of Stories On Sexual Assault Are Written By Men — & That’s A Problem

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Okay, Rebecca Adams. It is 2016. I will bite. Explain to the world why it is a problem that men wrote 55% of the stories about sexual violence:

The report comes out of the Women’s Media Center (which counts Gloria Steinem as a co-founder) and it sheds light on some problematic trends in the coverage of sexual assault on high school and college campuses. After looking at 940 articles from 12 print outlets — The Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times, The Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, The New York Times, Reuters, San Jose Mercury News, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post — the WMC found that men were less likely to interview alleged victims or write about the impact of alleged attacks on those victims (33% of male journalists did this vs. 40% of female journalists). In fact, men were slightly more likely than women to report on the impact the attack had on the alleged perpetrator.

Only 28% of the quotes used in stories by male journalists were from women, while 54% percent were from other men (18% were from organizations or sources without listed genders). Female journalists, on the other hand, quoted other women in their stories 42% of the time; they quoted men 38% of the time.

I am still confused as to why this matters. Can you provide more context?

Considering that 20% of women and 2% of men report being raped in their lifetimes, these disparities represent a pretty glaring bias in sexual assault coverage. If male journalists are covering most of the stories about sexual assault and are failing to give the primary victims prominent voices, it’s no wonder that the public discussion of rape is rife with victim-blaming tropes — like the idea that women “deserve” to be assaulted because of what they wore, how much they had to drink, or because they had consensual sex with their attacker before the assault.

I see. This is a problem not because male journalists are biased or failing to report the cases objectively or accurately. It is “problematic” because you think only women are victims, so only women should be the focus of the stories. It does not matter that all sexual assault crimes involve at least two people and that it would fair and balanced to report what the accuser and accused claim happened. It does not matter that it would be best to report the most accurate information regardless of the source’s sex. It does not matter that organizations who deal with sexual assault victims might have something important to add.

No, what matters is that male journalists appear to report the facts rather than push politics. In other words, they do their job.

One supposes that would not present a problem to the feminist-run Women’s Media Center. Being the unbiased, unpolitical organization that it is, there is no reason to assume anyone at the Women’s Media Center might have an ideological reason for making this ridiculous argument. It is not as if anyone at the WMC would think, for instance, news articles should be platforms for victims to give voice to their experiences:

This critical gap in who is given space to speak in the media contributes to an ongoing sense of stigma that surrounds the topic of sexualized violence in this country. Female sources tended to speak about the impact of sexual assault on the alleged victim at a much higher rate than male sources — but were given less of a chance to be heard. Only 10 percent of the men quoted in the stories we studied talked about the impact on the alleged victim, while 22 percent of the women sources spoke about the impact on the alleged victim. So more input from female sources led to more information on how an assault may have affected the alleged victim — a critical piece of information that gives voice to the experience of those who say they suffered the crimes.

Oh. So it is about pushing an agenda. My mistake.

The study goes on to complain that the coverage of high-profile cases focused on the accused and the circumstances that either created or encouraged the alleged assaults. The researchers found this an issue, but it is a rather bizarre complaint. Would one not want to understand how, for example, the attitudes in college sports could lead to someone facing accusations of serious assault yet receiving little punishment? Why should the focus be specifically on how the alleged victim feels if the concern is actually preventing future assaults? Should this also not be the focus when no one has been convicted?

Look at what happened with the University of Virginia case. As a result of the media playing politics with this story, colleges and universities instituted unnecessary “anti-rape” policies. Fraternities were shut down based on a false story. The progressive media ran with the concept that fraternities are bastions of rape and sexism, consistently fear-mongering every chance they got. They even expressed anger over an HBO TV show that had the temerity to suggest that vigilantism against men accused of rape is a bad idea.

When you push politics like this, it obscures the real problem. People become more concerned about buzz words like “rape culture” than actually examining what happened. This is how one gets idiotic statements like this:

When the data are divided by gender of the journalist, it is clear that male and female journalists covered the story differently. Forty percent of female journalists wrote about the alleged victim’s behavior or the impact on the alleged victim,
whereas only 33 percent of male journalists did.

Yes, the 7% difference is so big.

On the other hand, male journalists used quotes about the behavior of or impact on the alleged perpetrator slightly more often than female journalists, 35 percent versus 32 percent.

As is the 3% difference here. It is massive.

This is simply juvenile. Could you get any pettier?

Journalists also skewed toward covering different cultural aspects of the story depending on their gender. Forty-eight percent of female journalists quoted sources on fraternities/sororities, rape culture, and rape prevalence, compared to 35 percent of male journalists. Thirty-one percent of male journalists quoted sources on the nexus between sexualized violence and sports culture; 17 percent of female journalists quoted sources on this topic.

Touché.

It seems the issue is that female journalists were more likely to talk about feelings and feminism while male journalists were more likely to report the facts and discuss of the circumstances surrounding the alleged events. I fail to see the problem. What exactly is wrong with this? All these articles are available for public viewing, so anyone (let us be honest: any feminist) who does not want to read articles written by men can seek out ones written by women. One can be certain that no woman would ever present a false story in an attempt to play politics, let alone do so to such a degree that she likely would never work again.

Nevertheless, it is still unclear what is the point of this study. Why is the sex of the journalist relevant?

Stories that primarily affect women are not being told by women in equal numbers, according to our research. Simply reporting on cases of sexualized violence is no longer enough. With a continuing disparity in the makeup of newsrooms in the U.S., it’s time for those who are responsible for hiring to create actual parity.

Reporting the news is not about parity; it is about presenting accurate, factual information. The notion that stories that primarily affect a certain group should be reported by members of that group also undermines WMC’s point. If this is the logic we should apply, then no women should report on sports, few women should report on military actions, and only a handful of women should be report on crimes, and then only certain types of crime.

This is an idiotic position. If we are only getting information that only presents one side of the story, that is the greater issue. This is not to say that we should not read about alleged victims’ stories. We should. Yet until a conviction, it is unfair to focus on the accuser and not present the accused’s side of the story. Even after a conviction it would be unfair not to at least reveal what the convicted said.

Unbiased reporting means reporting both sides, not simply reporting the side one cares most about.

The farce continues:

The public does not receive the kind of information that can lead to meaningful change in how we perceive these cases. When we don’t know the consequences of a crime on a woman’s life or those of her family and friends, it is hard to expect sympathy or even empathy — and especially justice. Beyond finally hiring enough women to create equality in journalism, there is much that can be done with existing staff already working in newsrooms. Our research shows that assigning stories on sexualized violence to women journalists leads to a different kind of coverage, one that more often includes alleged victims’ voices.

I agree that it is important to share victims’ stories because hearing them will help people to understand the impact of sexual violence on a person’s life. Yet this is not what the WMC is asking for. What the organization asks for is more politicizing of the issue. They want more feminist-driven coverage that uses their theories and concepts to push a specific agenda that frames the sex crimes in a particular way. That does not help victims. Indeed, it leaves out a whole swath of victims, most notably male victims. Case in point, this was the lead-in to the study:

The majority of people raped in the United States are women — by far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention. A 2014 CDC report estimated that about 20 percent of women and just 2 percent of men have been raped during their lifetimes.

What was the point of that other than to argue that only women are victims of sex crimes? How are you leading to “meaningful change” if you are still peddling the myth than men and boys cannot be rape victims?

The obvious problem with this study is that it is incredibly misleading, which Rebecca Adams admitted:

Of course, numbers don’t always paint the full picture, and this report doesn’t suggest that all male journalists are coming from a misogynistic perspective; there are plenty of men writing sensitive, informative articles about rape.

Clearly Adams did not read the study because the WMC has the word “misogynistic” on the tip of their tongue throughout the report. Of course, without knowing what stories were studied we have no idea if anything the WMC read actually is biased in the way they claimed. They make no distinction in their study for articles that are news articles versus opinion pieces. They make no distinction between articles reporting on initial complaints versus those covering stories over time. They make no distinction between articles covering cases that later resulted in convictions versus those that were dropped or the accused found not guilty or innocent. Any number of these things and others could explain the differences the WMC saw.

We essentially (and ironically) must simply take the Women’s Media Center at their voice.

Well, sorry, that will not happen. This is not an unbiased organization. This is an organization with an explicit agenda, and they are willing to play politics with something as serious as sexual violence. Worse, it seems they are more concerned with pitching Kylo Ren-level tantrums over non-issues than actually doing anything to help victims.

Politicizing sexual violence does not help victims. It only makes it easier for people with agendas, like Sabrina Erdely, to push false narratives in an effort to fear monger and proselytize.

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4 thoughts on “A Dose of Stupid v120

  1. The study goes on to complain that the coverage of high-profile cases focused on the accused and the circumstances that either created or encouraged the alleged assaults.

    Don’t many victims prefer to remain anonymous? Did they take that into account?

  2. Didn’t that CDC study found out equal numbers of men being rape-*ahem* made to penetrate *ahem* and women being raped over the last 12 months? Or am I just ilagining things?

  3. Don’t many victims prefer to remain anonymous? Did they take that into account?

    No, they did not. The study is vague on exactly what they looked at and how they came to their conclusion.

  4. “This critical gap in who is given space to speak in the media contributes to an ongoing sense of stigma that surrounds the topic of sexualized violence in this country”

    This one sentence illustrates the major problem with this study. I can buy that women and men report on sexual violence differently. But what proof is offered that this results in male reporting leads to increased stigma? The point out differences, then explain the differences through a feminist lens without offering evidence that this is the correct explanation.

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