FixedIt: charity isn’t closing because of “sex”

The Border Mail reported that trustees of the charity The Kevin Spacey Foundation UK have decided to close down after 20 people alleged Kevin Spacey had sexually assaulted them or subjected them to “inappropriate” behaviour at the Old Vic theatre in London.

Scotland Yard is investigating three allegations of sexual assault and a number of other claims involve underage boys.

Spacey was the second person named in the wave of accusations that started after Harvey Weinstein and one of the strongest messages in the #MeToo movement is that sexual assault and harassment is not something powerful men can just dismiss as “sex”.

Sex is not the same as sexual assault, rape or sexual harassment. Sex requires consent, all the others require an absence of consent. When the media is confused about the difference it’s not surprising such confusing persists in the public understanding.

Headlines are supposed to be a short summary of the facts reported in the article. This headline replaces sexual assault with sex and thereby implies they are interchangeable terms. They are not.

There’s a reason I focus so strongly on headlines. Most people don’t consume news by reading a print newspaper from cover to cover. We see headlines on social media or news home pages and around 80 percent of the headlines we see, we never click through to read the article.

We’re not necessarily thinking very much about the headlines we don’t click on, but we see them. And without being consciously aware that it’s happening they are still describing something to us. When they fit our subconscious bias, when they minimise men’s violence against women or when they perpetuate myths about violence, they reinforce them in our minds, but we don’t really notice that it’s happening.

The things we don’t notice are far more dangerous than the things we do notice.

Headlines matter and this is why FixedIt exists.

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron

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