Fixed It: Something is missing from the headline

The Age reported that a man was charged with two counts of rape, aggravated burglary, burglary and sexual assault after a woman was allegedly attacked while she was staying at staff accommodation at a hospital in Shepparton.

The man has not yet been tried. This commentary is not about his guilt or innocence, which can only be determined by a court. It is only about how the charges against him were reported.

Invisible perpetrators are a constant in FixedIt. It matters because headlines are supposed to be a summary of the story. When the article is about violence men commit against women and those men are invisible, the headline is not telling the story, it’s erasing the story.

Most of us read many more headlines than full articles. We may not think much about the headlines we don’t click on, but we see them. When they repeatedly fit subconscious bias or underpin myths about violence, they can reinforce them without us even noticing. 

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

If all men’s violence was reported in the active voice with the perpetrators and their crime as the subject of every headline, it would be overwhelming. Because it is overwhelming.

But it’s not journalists’ job to obscure uncomfortable truths. Our job is to describe what is happening in society and the sad fact is that around 90 percent of violent crimes are committed by men. Avoiding this  doesn’t make it less true but it does make it much more difficult to address the underlying cause.

Headlines matter and this is why FixedIt exists.

(as always, if you’re reading this on social media, links are in the OP at www.patreon.com/JaneGilmore )

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

If you would like to know more about how and why the media’s erasure of men’s violence against women occurs, the Fixed It book is out now! Buy your copy here or at any good bookstore. Extracts available on why Fixed It started in The Guardian, rape and other violence myths in The Age/Sydney Morning Herald and the Good Guy trope on my website.

1800 RESPECT
Sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling and support.24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
Ph: 1800 737 732
www.1800respect.org.au 

Djirra – Aboriginal Family Violence Response & Support Service
9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday
Ph: 1800 105 303
djirra.org.au 

Suicide Call Back Service
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Ph: 1300 659 467
www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au

Kids Helpline
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Phone: 1800 55 1800
www.kidshelp.com.au

MensLine Australia
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Phone: 1300 78 99 78
www.mensline.org.au

Men’s Referral Service
Monday – Friday – 8am-9pm
Weekends – 9am-6pm
Ph: 1300 766 491
www.ntv.org.au/get-help