Double standard in the media

Double standard in the media

For several days, press releases with today’s theme have been arriving. Discounts on eye-make up remover, free honey massages for women, knitwear sales… Maybe there was one, but I haven’t yet seen the ad for the solitaire ring.

For a while, there has been talk that sensitivity on the issue of violence against women has been developing. It is true, more serious statistics are being recorded, and there are more accurate figures. We can hear the voices of women’s organizations criticizing government agencies that have not done enough to protect women. We are hearing their voices in the media slightly more when compared with the past. For example, the papers are compiling the day’s murders of women on one page. Yes, in that sense, it is becoming visible.

Have you heard of the daily ŞOK newspaper, which is at the farthest end of the spectrum for sexism in the media? Interestingly, a daily publication that is consistently sexist on every page, which is extremely keen on exposing the female body, has also been printing news on women murders for a while. What’s more, they even report it in their headlines. There are scenes like this: A photo of a woman who has been subject to violence everyday, who has been harassed every day in front of her children, who one day could not stand it anymore and stabbed her husband. Her eyes have been blurred out. It is referred to as a human tragedy. Right next to this is a half-page picture of a naked woman. Then there is a headline news story of a 14-year-old woman who committed suicide right after learning that her rapist was given a five-month sentence. Next to this is another huge picture of a naked woman. Both things at the same time…

This inconsistency, particular to tabloid newspapers, seems to contradict the increased perception of violence against woman that has spread from the media to civil society, from the government to the private sector. A newspaper, (Habertürk), which titles a rape story “A Beyoğlu night which ended in bed” may also cover the murder of a woman on a full page. A website that makes a gallery from “beautiful” pictures of an actress who has supported the women’s movement with the headline, “She has also been harassed,” may also have appropriate stories five days in a row. Do they balance each other out?

With the perception of a woman’s identity that has been granted from motherhood to the family, no matter how many policies you produce on this subject it will never be enough. When the child that a woman may or may not have given birth to has been made into a social issue, or worse, has been made into a daily political issue, there is no point in making legal arrangements for female employment. If you do not occupy yourself adequately with the monitoring of practices, if you do not struggle against the impunity of violence, then it really doesn’t matter whether you wish to reserve a whole city of your country and turn it into a women’s shelter. There is no possibility of a solution in a policy that does not regard, in its essence, a woman as a free and strong individual, and which does not engage in a true struggle against the acceptance of male dominance. I’m sorry, but good will falls short in this.
Our sensitive female celebrities wearing purple make up. Our male celebrities who put on red nail polish to understand women, your good will is useless. If you explain the sexism of your sector, the violence that you may be committing, or may be exposed to, or may have witnessed, then perhaps there is a chance.

If we avoid seeing the controversies of our sensitivities, then we get further from comprehending the essentials of the issue, and we cannot even get close to a solution.

Pınar Öğünç is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece appeared on March 8. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.