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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gender bias in murder coverage

Opening The Herald this morning we have another example of the way that men and women do not necessarily get treated equally by the newspapers. Carmen Thomas was dismembered by her partner and had been in an abusive relationship, yet the The Herald spins a lengthy piece that manages to make it look as if it is her fault. Binge eating, emotional issues and prostitution paint a bizarre picture of a woman who seemingly tempted her fate.

A woman in pain behind the smiles

Carmen Thomas was known for her love of partying, her dazzling smile and her effervescent personality.

The 32-year-old was dedicated to her young son, and to having as much fun as possible. She was kind, confident, articulate, intelligent, attractive, friendly and bubbly.

Carmen wasn't afraid to live her life, she wasn't scared of anyone and she had a way of making people feel comfortable in her company. But behind the smiles, the laughter and the jokes was a woman hiding personal pain and insecurities, a woman who craved attention and who could be difficult, volatile and with a tendency to go off the rails.

Except there is no way we should be receiving this level of detail on the victim. Where is Brad Callaghan's character assassination? Why is it alright to further victimize the victim of a violent and lethal assault posthumously? This piece is not only unnecessary, it is in poor taste and highlights the gender bias that some women receive in news coverage. Indeed, had Carmen not been a prostitute there would be outrage at this kind of article.

The allegation that Carmen hit Brad in the back of the head at the end of the article is equally dubious. Let's put aside the fact that she was in an abusive relationship with a guy who was not only having a baby with another woman that he wouldn't admit to, but quite happy to chop her up and put her in concrete buckets and spend a couple of weeks hiding her body.

The coverage of women that are perceived as falling outside of societal norms in New Zealand is abysmal and evidences deeply held stereotypes about women's position in society. We only need to look at the way that the way Kristin Dunne-Powell or Louise Nicholas were treated to see that our news culture is male, biased and outrageous at times. Both women were put on media trial for their characters without as if the violence meted on them did not matter.

The reality is that we have a huge problem with domestic abuse in New Zealand and this kind of article contributes to it. A recent study found that New Zealand women were more exposed to more violence than other developed countries covered by the World Health Organization. If we want to change this, we need to start with the media. Dear New Zealand Herald, NO woman deserves this violence or this treatment posthumously, and by portraying her life this way you encourage and perpetuate further violence. Would you talk about your own mother like this?


At 26/11/11 1:09 pm, Blogger H Stewart said...

I agree, it is almost as though the media have taken the position that Callaghan is a young upstanding civil engineer who has done the decent thing by pleading guilty rather than psychotic killer who went to great lengths to cover his tracks.

At 26/11/11 2:40 pm, Blogger Ovicula said...

The fact that the media publish this sort of character assassination of the victim shows we have a long, long way to go.

At 26/11/11 3:27 pm, Blogger Wheeler's Corner NZ said...

The herald sinks to its normal level in publishing such tripe and it proves that greed over professional behaviour is the norm for them...its one of the reasons why I don't buy the rag...for a rag it is

At 26/11/11 6:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The guy Callaghan seems like a pretty decent sort of guy to start off with. Had a decent job, a decent career, and a qualification in something worthwhile.

However he saw his son been raised by a hysterical woman who was a whored herself out to other men, and something must have flipped.

In short, she kinda deserved what she got.

Quite understandable what he did.

However he was a dumb cunt.

Why did he put those jars of mincemeat all in one place. He should have dropped the bits of stuff all over the country, in the ocean, in the lakes, in the rivers.

Also getting his mates in on it was not the best thing to do. Not fair on his mates.

At 27/11/11 9:52 pm, Blogger Frank said...

Wayne - are you for real?!


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