On the media and domestic violence

Standard

Content note: domestic violence, victim blaming, fat shaming

At this point, everyone will be aware of the horrific photos of Nigella Lawson being attacked by her husband, Charles Saatchi. The response on my Twitter feed and blogs I regularly read was one of horror and revulsion, both at the abuse and the despicable human beings who saw fit to stand by and take photos rather than intervene. However, with depressing predictability, clueless “journalists” and commentators have been outdoing each other in terms of

In his column, The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade treated the matter as a private affair between a married couple, suggesting that was merely “deeply embarrassing for her and, even more so, for her husband.” Greenslade even saw fit to include a misogynistic, fat-shaming joke about “feeding frenzies”.

The Evening Standard, for its part, published an “exclusive” statement from Saatchi, uncritically reporting it as “a playful tiff”. Fucking hell, I knew that the Standard was a rag, but to GIVE A PLATFORM FOR AN ABUSER TO EXPLAIN HIMSELF WHEN HE SHOULD BE DOING SO TO POLICE? How vile. How utterly sickening and dismissive of violence toward women.

Perhaps the most vile media response I’ve seen was that of Dee Dee Dunleavy of Australian radio station 3AW693, who called for Nigella to “make a stand on domestic violence” if she wanted women to buy her books.

Wow.

So let me get this, straight, Dee Dee. Nigella Lawson is the victim of a violent abuser, and yet the onus is on *her* to be the bigger person here? Have you got the faintest clue what domestic violence is? Why are you letting Saatchi off the hook here?

This is victim blaming. This is misogyny.

Violence against women is at epidemic proportions. Every single week, women are dying at the hands of partners or former partners. In homes across the country, women are living in fear, and yet the response of the world at large seems to be somewhere between “Ah, leave them to it, it’s their business” and “Why doesn’t she just leave that bastard?” Both are equally wrong-headed and damaging, and yet the mainstream media are perpetuating this culture by their coverage of this topic.

As something of an antidote to this awfulness, I strongly recommend the following excellent reads:

Having A Domestic by Sarah for Fanny.ie

This piece by Roe McDermott, also at Fanny

An excellent piece by The Pervocracy, “Why Does She Stay With That jerk?” on why people stay with violent partners.

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