To be clear, this man has not yet been tried and he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. His guilt or innocence can only be determined by the court. This commentary is specifically and only about the way the media reports on men who are accused of violence against women they meet online.

The Courier Mail reported that a Brisbane man in his 30s has been charged with allegedly raping a woman and breaking her jaw. They included the fact that the two met on a dating site in the headline.

The Courier Mail is not the first, or the only one to do this and it’s unlikely to be the last.

If a man and a woman meet on an online dating site and the is man later accused of violence against the women, you can guarantee the name of the dating site will be included in the headline of any article about the allegation.

If they had met at a church group or a book shop or over cabbages in Aldi, it wouldn’t even rate a mention at the bottom of the article.

But online dating sites create a frenzy because violence is the expected consequence for women who actively and confidently pursue sex. It’s an extension of the myth that women can be categorised as “good women” or “bad women”. “Good women” wait passively for men to want them, they are the objects of desire but have no feelings or agency. “Bad women” feel desire, take ownership of it and act on it. They do not recognise their bodies or their sexuality as the domain of men and are therefore morally suspect.

It’s an insidious and persistent form of victim blaming. It implies online dating or the women who chose to meet men online are the cause of the violence. They’re not. The only thing that causes violence is the choice to use violence.

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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Books by Jane Gilmore

Fairy Tale Princesses Will Kill Your Children

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