Thursday, July 05, 2007

Waitaminute, The Sun isn't victim-blaming?!

An online petition has cropped up at The Sun calling for a 24-hour hotline for rape victims and more specialist centres for them. Which is good. I signed it. It accompanies an article in which the journalist Abigail Grant tells of her ordeal (which is detailed, and may trigger) when a man broke into her house and attempted to rape her 12 years ago, seriously injuring her in the process, and her experiences when they finally brought him to trail recently, 12 years after the attack. There are also details of other recent rape cases that were carried out appallingly - the man who got off practically scot-free after he claimed that the 10-year-old he abused (and that IS sexual abuse, as a child cannot legally give consent no matter what you say) was 'dressed provocatively', and the other recent one where it was implied* that the victim was 'glad of the attention' when she was gang-raped. The article highlights the huge prejudices that exist in rape cases, highlights how unfairly they are treated and calls for change.

However, I did have a few questions when I looked at where the article was featured in the site (I only knew about it via The F-Word, which linked straight to the petition). It is in the 'Woman' and 'Real Life' (personal accounts etc.) sections. Not on the Home Page. Not in the 'News' section, despite the fact that rape is a current issue and recent events are mentioned. In the sections that it does feature in, it's not immediately noticeable - Real Life has it after dieting articles, something about new mothers having sex (SHOCK!), humourous pictures of eggs and mobile phone allergies. And in the 'Woman' section.... sex, sex, fashion, diets, guys, fashion, celebrities.... ah, there it is!

So, despite this being an important issue which affects everyone, despite having a message we should all hear, it's been cordoned off as purely a 'women's issue' and hidden down the pages of two of the 'girlier' sections. I can understand why is would be in the section of personal accounts, but come on! It's a bit more important than weight loss and hot pants! Nice to know how important you guys at the Sun think this is, but I should've expected this, really. The Sun isn't exactly renowned for it's gleaming track record in highlighting the inequalities that exist in our country, except perhaps how 'unfair' it is that some women don't look like Pam Anderson.

Thoughts, anyone?

*Sorry, make that 'stated in plain language by the defence barrister', because the victim was overweight. Just to add insult to the injury.


  1. Good point re. their 'hiding' this campaign and it not being in the main news section.

    I'm not completley taken with the Sun running this campaign, after all they endorse the sexualisation of women which contributes to a rape culture and have a close relationship with Playboy, Loaded mag etc.

    The one positive element of the campaign- that the biggest-selling newspaper in the country is seemingly taking rape seriously and reaching a huge audience with that message- is undermined by the fact that it is put in the 'women's ghetto' of real life and women sections. Therefore how much impact is it going to have? It should be on the front page! Or would that seem a little contradictory being so close to Page 3?

  2. Could this in fact work AGAINST the campaign, I mean, it is after all in The Sun.
    Stick it on the front page of the evening times, then we're talking.

  3. Great post Mwezzi. Thing is, if it's in those sections, men aren't likely to even see the campaign! I mean they're definitely not going to look in the Women section are they? Not unless they fancy having a laugh at the things that women are supposedly interested in.

    Putting it so far down the list of topics as well, completely minimises it's importance and almost seems like an act of obligation- that they had to be 'seen' to be bothered about such issues, because it might be of public interest to 'some' people. Those some people being the ones who actually realise there is a crisis of sexual violence permiate the mainstream of the whole word.