Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

“Man 23, arrested over murder” isn’t so entertaining.

This appeared today in The Star in Sheffield South Yorkshire.


The headline is ....

Girl, 17, arrested over murder of South Yorkshire pensioner

The choice of words is important, using a shocking juxtaposition of ages in the narrative of the young killing the old presents as quite chilling. Stories may begin to form in our minds about how this could have happened. What facts are withheld about the relationship of the two females? Our minds run free as readers.

Since the focus is on a "girl",  the youth and gender are clearly newsworthy. It is not typical that a young girl is a murder suspect. In the murder of women, and the pensioner is a woman, the perpetrator is far more likely to be a man.

So I was surprised, (okay I lie, I wasn't at all surprised, because the media so frequently reveal themselves to be misleading, misogynist, victim-blamers that really, I've been more surprised that the milk in my fridge is white some days), when this was the following paragraph.......

Police have arrested a 17-year-old girl and a 23-year-old man over the murder of a South Yorkshire pensioner.

They are both in custody this morning and are to be quizzed over the death.

So, actually, a man is also arrested on suspicion of being a murderer! A man quite a bit older than the "girl".

Why would he be erased from the headline?

Well, of course, the more shocking nature of the crime is if it has been committed by a female. Is that perhaps because mostly WOMEN DON'T MURDER WOMEN. MEN DO!?

Creating a totally different narrative to the journalist - my gut reaction is, and the questions I would ask are - why is a 17 year old girl with a 23 year old man at a crime scene? Has she been coerced into being involved in murder? Is she actually involved at all or just a bystander? If she is involved what might this man have done to involve her?

Because really, how likely is it that a young girl can take the lead over a man six years her senior when she is just beyond school age, and perpetrate murder.

Reporting with bias is one, unacceptable, thing regarding the demonisation of women and girls. Leaving out crucial facts that deliberately mislead and misinform is quite another.

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