Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Media’s False Equivalence between Schwarzenegger’s Affair and Sexual Violence

Just when you think the media cannot sink any lower - the public is now confronted with this vile conflation of a celebrity politician's consensual affair and allegations of extreme sexual violence; the media must stop discussing allegations of rape and sexual violence in the same breath with a consensual affair.  This narrative is a patently false equivalence because these two stories are wholly unrelated.  The suggestion by anyone that consensual affairs are in any way comparable to rape or any form of sexual violence is abhorrent and absurd.  And sadly, the New York Times is once again trivializing sexual violence. 

See Harsh Light on Two Men, but Glare Falls on Women: 

As for these so-called journalists who are effectively outing an alleged rape victim by staking out her neighborhood and interrogating her neighbors, and thereby revealing her identity to everyone in that neighborhood, they are betraying every standard of journalistic integrity.  These so-called journalists have now descended into the deepest depths of shame and are violating any semblance of common decency.  The suggestion that because this alleged rape victim was assaulted by a famous and wealthy, that now the only way she can protect her privacy is through the good graces of her neighbors who will hopefully protect her privacy is a shocking statement.  The woman Schwarzenegger had an affair with is not a victim – she made a decision to have an affair with a married man and accept gifts in return, including the purchase of her home.  

This alleged rape victim was never given the luxury of a choice – and the suggestion that this victim is now going to become collateral damage because her assailant is wealthy and famous is sickening.  To accept as a given the idea that the media must investigate who this victim is, what she looks like, even her finances, clearly implies that she cannot be trusted and that her account of the crime is automatically suspect.  And insinuating that she was raped because Strauss-Kahn was “attracted” to her is similarly a vile and disgusting notion.  

Rape has nothing to do with the desire for sex – rape represents violence and degradation.  The New York Times must stop debasing itself to this level of shameful tabloid journalism by continuing to perpetuate and enable rape myths in our society. 

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