Monday, August 25, 2014

171.5 - Media downplays violence against women

Media downplays violence against women

I have many times complained that we are uninformed, misinformed, and malinformed by our corporate media. He is another example of the media's disgrace.

Early on the morning of August 8, a woman named Christy Mack was severely beaten up by her ex-boyfriend, a mixed-martial arts fighter by the name of Jonathan Koppenhaver, who brawls under the name War Machine.

He stabbed her, sawed off her hair, and left her with 18 broken bones in the face, a broken nose, a cracked rib, a ruptured liver and several missing teeth. When she arrived at the hospital she was unable to chew or see out of her left eye and could not walk without assistance.

He ran and was on the lam for a week before cops caught him, during which time he sent out tweets whining about how he must be "cursed."

Oh, and another thing: Christy Mack makes her living working in adult films.

Why is that relevant to her being beaten half to death by a professional fighter? It's not.

Around 1.3 million women are the victims of domestic violence every year in this country and it's been estimated that one in four women will experience some form of domestic abuse sometime in her life. It's safe to say that relatively few of those women are in adult films. So Christy Mack being one of them is clearly irrelevant.

So why did the media almost if not invariably begin their coverage by referring to her, in the very first line of the story, as a "porn star?" The Huffington Post, for example, did it twice that I know of. Both Faux News and the New York Daily News even did it in their headlines.

Why? What is the point? Mentioning it somewhere down in the body of the article, in the way that some details of a victim's life are often mentioned - you know, where they say the person was "a mechanic" or "a shop keeper" or whatever or "had lived in the area for x number of years" or "was studying to be a this or that" or whatever else - that I could see. But in the lede? In the headline? That suggests purpose.

So what was it? Was it to minimize the importance, to minimize the link to the connection to the broader issue of violence against women? Oh, she was "a porn star," not like, you know, a normal, decent woman or something. A dramatic story, to be sure, but with no broader meaning, no significance beyond the individuals directly involved. Was that the point?

There certainly was enough "blame the victim" going around to justify that possibility. For example, "Hollywood Life" reported that early in their relationship, Koppenhaver made a rape joke about Mack on Twitter, thus suggesting, well, she should have known better so it was her fault.

Fox News says friends told her to stay away from him, so it was her fault for ignoring the warnings; in fact they were so eager to promote the "it was her fault" line that they even quoted the owner of a gossip site as saying "she provoked him" - all while ignoring the fact that he was, again, the EX-boyfriend: She had broken up with him and he went to her house and beat her up.

And, as is common, if you really want to see the memes in action, read the comments. "Blame the victim" was in full bloom. Some samples, and these are quoted:

-You could have easily have prevented this - your lifestyle leaves you open to violence and other abuse.

-Certain women do know how to pick them and love to be mistreated.

-Stop buying into the liberal press's propaganda; when you lead a certain lifestyle bad  things happen to you.

-No sympathy.  She chose that lifestyle on her own.  She can heal on her own.

-This broad ... getting her 15 minutes of fame,

-[He] Caught her getting her ho on.

In addition, she was called among other things a "mud shark," a "dumpster," and "tatted-up white trash."

It was all, as Ximena Ramirez suggested at, "our way of distancing ourselves from the victim," of telling ourselves that we would have known better. But more than that, it is our way of distancing ourselves from the harsh underlying reality of the astonishing, shameful levels of violence in this country - violence not only against women but yes, particularly against women.

And our media seems more than ready to encourage us to keep our eyes closed. It's a disgrace.

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