Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Tennessean exhibits sexist and gender prejudice in news reporting.

by Rod Williams - In a story in today's Tennessean, it was reported, "Police look for thieves; vehicles had children inside." According to the report, a two year old girl was safe and sound after the incident. A "mother" went into a Citgo on Brick Church Pike to make a purchase and left the car running with her infant child in the car.  Suspects jumped in the car and drove off. By tracking the location of the vehicle, due to the mother also leaving  her cell phone in the car, the police were able to track the vehicle to a location in east Nashville, where the child was found crying standing on the front porch of a home. The thieves and vehicle were not located.

This is the second incident of this nature in a 48 hour period. The other happened at a Mapco on Stewards Ferry Pike the day before and three children were in the stolen car. The thieves later abandoned the car and the children were found unharmed. The thieves in the second vehicle were also identified as male.

The story did not mention the race of the thieves but in the first incident a picture captured from the stores video security camera shows the thieves to be African American.

The official city of Nashville press release did not identify the thieves as "men," but reported the story this way:

Detectives are continuing in their efforts to identify the persons responsible for two apparently unrelated car thefts in which children who had been left in the vehicles were briefly taken.       
At 6:20 p.m. Sunday, thieves jumped into a white Hyundai Elantra that had been left running with a 2-year-old child inside while her mother went into Terry’s Quick Stop at 3050 Brick Church Pike.  The persons who stole the Elantra got out of a blue Nissan Versa that was stolen on April 10th from the driveway of a home on Elmore Avenue.  It had also been left unattended and running.  Both the Elantra and the Versa fled the parking lot.  Officers were able to track the victim’s cell phone to East Nashville and located the 2-year-old crying and standing on the front porch of a home in the 1000 block of Pennock Avenue.  She was unharmed.  Officers located the abandoned stolen Versa in an alley between Meridian Street and Pennock Avenue.  The Elantra has not yet been recovered.  
Why did The Tennessean identify the thieves as "males?"  Why, like the Metro press release, did they not call the thieves "persons?" By identifying the thieves as men, The Tennessean is guilty of furthering the stereotype and prejudice that males are more likely to be criminals than are females. Society disproportionately incarcerates many more men than women. Of the prison population 91.7% are male. It would seem that an enlightened policy would strive to have no more men incarcerated than women. Surely there is not a gender difference that would result in more male incarceration than female. Perhaps there should be a moratorium on incarcerating any more men until the ratios reflect the approximate 50% that men and women each represent of the population. As long as our media continues to perpetuate prejudice against men such justice will not be achieved.

Not only are more men incarcerated than women, but police routinely treat men and women differently.  In a routine traffic stop police use more caution and display a firmer attitude when approaching a car with a male driver than a female driver. Police do not treat the sexes equally. Movies and TV crime programs routinely show men more violent and prone to crime than women.

In addition to furthering the societal prejudice that leads to more men being incarcerated than women, The Tennessean report also calls into question the appropriateness of even using the term "male" and "female."  After all, is not sex and gender a societal construct? Even if the thieves appeared to be "male," how do we know they think of themselves as male. Obviously, the reporter did not interview the "men" to ask them their gender preference or gender identity. They could have been male, female, transgender or gender fluid.

In addition to the prejudiced against men, the story also furthered the stereotyping of some women as bad mothers.  Was it necessary to report that the "mother" went into the story to make a purchase and left the child in the car with the engine running?  Why did the story not report that "the parent" or "adult guardian" went into the store.

Many years ago, The Tennessee and other mainstream news outlets began concealing the race of those committing crime. How long must we wait before the same enlighten attitude applies to sex and gender and that prejudicial sexist distinction is also concealed?

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

No comments:

Post a Comment