If “So what about some good news, Twisty?” is your constant refrain, today is your lucky day. Now don’t get too excited, it’s not like Dripping Springs, TX has passed a resolution banning the word “Lady” from its high school sports team or anything. But here’s a piece in the Vancouver Sun drawing attention to recent work by reporter-turned-U of Winnipeg professor Shannon Sampert, who has written on journalists’ role in perpetuating woman-blaming rape myths.
And you know what, these woman-blaming rape myths are some of my Number One hide-chapping myths! You know the ones I mean:
“She got too drunk at the bar.”
“She was a whore to begin with.”
“She didn’t fight back hard enough; she must have really wanted it.”
“She’s a lying bitch out to totally screw that innocent dude.”
“What did she expect, with those boobs, walking alone at night, walking alone period, walking alone without an assault cannon, 8 bodyguards and a pack of Dobermans?”
These bogus she-asked-for-it stereotypes chap my hide most sorely when they appear disguised as fact in mainstream media reports. Sampert lays the blame for the proliferation of such fictions at the stinky feet of the police, whose storied misogynist views are too often reported verbatim by journalists.
‘The police’, it should be noted, is an entity that exists solely to protect the interests of the dominant culture, so it comes as no great shock that when cops talk to reporters about rape they use the language of patriarchy, their governing body. Sampert, something of a breath of fresh air, argues not only that cops need to cut it out with this shame-the-victim crap, but that reporters need to take more responsibility in raising the level of discourse when they write about rape. Her theory is that if the media quits portraying rape victims as filthy drunken whores, women might be more likely to report their assaults. Because right now, in Canada, it is estimated that 90% of rapes go unreported, yep you read that right.
One of the more rampant phrases not mentioned in the article, but which journalists use to sanitize and normalize rape like no other, is “child prostitute” (in fact, prostitution, which can only be defined as rape, is mysteriously absent from this piece; undoubtedly the author is adhering to the global mainstream media religio which says that prostitutes “choose” their “profession” and therefore cannot be victimized). As though a 13-year-old female kid has any kind of agency whatsoever. But Jesus tap-dancing Christ, a ‘child prostitute’ isn’t some guileful sexy nubile, or a piece of trash; she is an abused, exploited, trafficked child. Not that I’m some kind of paragon, but I do try to reduce my misogynist footprint wherever I can, and the fact that I’ve used this term myself reveals how ingrained and accepted it is. Read more about this, one of my newest pet peeves, here.
Dang. I guess I just can’t keep it light.