why is the Guardian still perpetuating dangerous stereotypes?
To be honest I’m just absolutely shocked and frustrated by the fact that a response or condemnation of @TimAshAsh and his Guardian article on domestic violence is even necessary. It recycles tired stereotypes which we condemn again and again, and the only possible reason for the media not to listen is a desire to protect perpetrators of violence. This must stop.
Tim appears to try to maintain a veneer of ‘neutrality’ (however transparent) by continually referring to ‘some’ people who will disbelieve Andrea Georghiu’s account of the violence within her marriage, but refusing to pin his colours to the mast as someone who is dismissing a woman’s story on his own bias and lack of any concrete knowledge about the situation. He continually uses scare quotes to refer to both ‘violence’ and the friends and acquaintances who Andrea says witnessed this violence. This makes entirely clear his desire to mock and trivialise what is Andrea’s story. The fact that survivors of violence and abuse face the knowledge that this dismissive and trivialising behaviour is a strong possibility when they speak out helps to maintain the silence around the abuse they suffer. It plays into exactly the sort of climate which abusers are able to manipulate in order to evade justice.
Tim’s characterisation of Andrea as an ‘attention seeker’ is another tired but dangerous stereotype which enables him to believe that survivors of abuse would exaggerate their experiences. This contrasts starkly with evidence from survivors and agencies working with them which suggests that it is after on average 35 violent incidents that a survivors speaks out or reports. It leads to the feeling that we have to be ’sure’ about the severity of our experiences before we speak. It is very difficult for anyone but a survivor to understand the difficulty of being ‘sure’ when possibly being constantly gas lighted and threatened by a perpetrator, but as a national journalist Tim has a responsibility to try.
The idea that ‘grand passion’ and ‘drama’ within the relationship somehow excuses violence within it or reduces the chance that such violence exists is another tired excuse for perpetrators. It suggests that violence is part of a normal spectrum of relationship behaviours, and that survivors will somehow ‘make a fuss’ about the violence they have experienced in order to play into the dynamic of their relationship. Let’s make something quite clear: abusers who attempt to control their partners, perpetrate violence against them and abuse them, whether emotionally, physically or sexually - abusers use these myths. They gaslight friends and family into believing that the abuse was ‘mutual’, that their partner is ‘dramatic’, that it’s all part of the normal way of being in a relationship. We need to stand against this behaviour, otherwise we are complicit in this violence and their justification of it. And by we, I primarily mean @TimAshAsh.
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