Feminist Theory in NUJ Practices

Jordan Holbrook March 20, 2018 3
Feminist Theory in NUJ Practices

On Monday 6th March, Welsh Women’s Aid delivered training with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) on how to report on Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG). The event included talks from the Head of Training & Survivor Participation of Welsh Women’s Aid Mwenya Chimba and panels with producers, directors and survivors of domestic abuse & violence.

The event was well attended and, for the most part, did a great job of highlighting and discussing the stories shared by the survivors of violence. However, the literature supplied and guidelines prescribed are misguided at best – I’ve written before about the problems of Women’s Aid. Take the flyer below which shows how the VAWG narrative is co-opting non-female victims and including them as victims of VAWG. This was also done in the ‘Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy 2017 – 2020’ report which shows 27% of the two women a week killed by a partner or ex-partner are men (28 men, 77 women).

Violence against women can affect anyone regardless of sex and gender identity. Okay.

Printed on all the literature and supplied in its own handout was the Live Fear Free helpline. Live Fear Free is “Welsh Government website, providing information and advice for those suffering with violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.” Printed below is the handout given to attendees. Those who follow my work will remember the story I covered last November showing how the EHRC was permitting the screening of male callers of domestic violence. The Live Fear Free helpline make an assessment on all callers and refer male callers to the Dyn Project – who screen men (but not women). What’s troubling is they use statistics from screening men to develop policies.

They fail to mention David would have been screened. Also, note the lack of female perpetrators. #DuluthAgenda

According to The Welsh Government’s proposed ‘Ending Violence Against Women and Domestic Abuse (Wales) Bill’: Recommendations from the Task and Finish Group report, “both independent evaluations of the Dyn Project revealed that nearly half of heterosexual clients had a history or were currently known to be perpetrating abuse against their female partners (Robinson & Rowlands, 2006; Nolan, 2011) … Masculinity is associated with violence in most cultures and Wales is no exception; thus, all preventative work and interventions must be designed to address men’s violent behaviour.” By only screening men (and not women) this skews the data allowing them to portray men as violent abusers and deny female perpetrated abuse.

The guidelines given to the attendees are the ‘NUJ guidelines for journalists on violence against women’ from September 2013 and appear to have been written for the NUJ by Women’s Aid. The three-page document lists the “key issues”, then offers imprecise guidance that is not backed by evidence or any proof of efficacy or outcome.

Even though the NUJ guidelines for journalists on violence against women were published in September 2013, there have since been no similar guidelines published for violence against men. Odd. Thus, the question appears to require asking: why not just call this document ‘Violence Against People’? Could the ‘NUJ guidelines for journalists on violence against women’ be extended to include men?

No.

Consider this ridiculous statement: “Do not refer to abusers as “monsters”, “fiends”, “maniacs” or “beasts” as this creates the myth that abusers are noticeably and substantially different from “normal” men.” This – obviously – has no evidential backing but, Women’s Aid care not when demonizing and misrepresenting men. In their eyes, there is no difference between a normal man and a monster because all men are monsters.

Also, if this four-and-a-half-year-old document did apply to men then many journalists have broken these very guidelines. One such guideline is “Name violence against women as violence against women (e.g. domestic violence is not a “volatile relationship”). Do not use the word sex when you mean rape. “Honour” crime should appear in quotes or with “so-called” before it. “Crimes of passion” is not an appropriate way to describe murder.” If “do not use the word sex when you mean rape” was a guideline for male victims, then here’s a short list of articles published since September 2013 that have failed to use the r-word:

Bristol teacher Eleanor Wilson who had oral sex with pupil in aeroplane toilet being investigated by police

Emma Webb: Ex-teaching assistant had sex with schoolboys at family home while husband was at work

Married teaching assistant, 32, sent thousands of lewd texts after starting two-year affair with 14-year-old schoolboy – and threatened suicide when his parents found out

Babysitter who forced a 13-year-old boy to perform sex acts on her at a onesie party avoids jail

Shamed teaching assistant, 30, escapes jail after she admitted having sex with a teenage student

Deal mother Karen Ackland seduced boy of 14 for drunken sex but spared jail at Canterbury Crown Court

Babysitter spared jail after having sex with boy aged 11

Note: all the victims were 16 or under and the offender evaded jail (Karen Ackland was imprisoned following an appeal).

As noted above, allowing feminism influence over public and private spheres is a stupid and dangerous game and now, not only is Women’s Aid providing training to judges, but is also dictating to the media how they should behave.

Women’s Aid is slowly taking command of both the judiciary and the media. Orwell would be impressed.

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