Sunday, March 31, 2013

Egyptian Media Have Mixed Record on Portrayal of Violence Against Women

A disturbing report published March 27, 2013 by Sarah El Masry of the Daily News/Egypt offers examples of how TV entertainment -- particularly soap operas -- and print media may be furthering violence against women by the way they depict it in dramatic series and report on it in a news context.   Women are often blamed for "provoking men" to violent acts, she says -- even if the so-called provocation is a woman demonstrating at a political rally. News media have increased their reporting about violence against women, but shy away from reporting incidents of domestic violence -- even though entertainment television often depicts them graphically (and not necessarily negatively). While few experts El Masry interviewed were in favor of outright censorship of media, at least one noted that when censorship does occur, it is directed at sexual content, not violence.

Sherin Moody, an adjunct professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo, commented to El Masry about the selectivity of censorship policies. “The interesting thing about the process of filtration that happens to drama and movies is that they cut out the content that has most to do with sexuality, leaving in violence and pervasive language. They think sex is more dangerous than violence while in fact they are very interrelated. Those people are blinded like horses with blinkers; they don’t realize that violence could escalate to rape, for example,” Moody said.

Given the volatile climate in post-revolutionary Egypt, women remain vulnerable.  CBS Correspondent Lara Logan's horrific experience at the hands of a mob in Tahrir Square is well-known; so is the stripping of the "blue-bra" woman by males outraged at her presence at a political protest there.  El Masry has given us an overview of how embedded violence against women is and asks a fair question: Are the media complicit?

Read her full report, "The Coverage of Violence Against Women."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Male Pen Name Lives On, Incredibly

I missed this article when it came out a few months ago.  I discovered it doing research on women as authors.  I'm both fascinated and infuriated that male pen names, and book marketing carefully crafted so as not to offend male sensibilities, continue to obscure the genuine abilities and talents of female authors.  Read it and weep: Why Women Writers Still Take Men's Names.