The British and their love of the media is well-known and even more well-known, is the British media and their reporting of events. We all subscribe to it one way or another.
I have been poking around in dungeons of research and have found a handful of papers that reflect my thoughts since the shabby reporting of my cases. Despite the usual comforting platitudes of people over and around the usual – you’re not a bad person, chip paper, people forget – there is always someone waiting like a lion/ness in the wings to look up the goodies that cause shuddering outrage. It is akin to legalised terrorism. To install terror into communities under the rather flaky smokescreen of that old favourite – in the public interest – or the even more disturbing,- the public have a right to know -. Despite claims of never believing everything in the media, there are many who do. It is a cultural failing of the human race. Let us look up this person and find out what the papers say.
The reporting of women who commit crime in the media is harsher than the reports of men who commit crime. The Sun has it down to a fine art. “Monster Mother is released from prison” was thrown around in the latter months of 2013. Monster is a childhood image formed by parents during bedtime stories. Children are scared of monsters, The Sun however, sees it differently. What better way to sell copy than terrorising the nation into believing there is a monster roaming the streets? Even more terrorising is the monster is a woman. Furthermore, she is a mother.
Women do commit crime. Infanticide is committed by more women than men. Any loving parent cannot even begin to comprehend such an act. When a woman commits a violent act, I understand the media frenzy, we wimmen are not supposed to act in this way. If we take “Sam” from my previous post. Despite her crimes, I do not care what they were, I have no wish to know, she made herself homeless according to LPT because she “surrendered” her tenancy to her partner so her children’s home could be protected. Once a mother, always a mother.
There is a manufactured belief that women are kind, compassionate, and should not commit crime. Studying comments in “below the line” sections, women will happily go along with such words such as “My children are my world, how could any woman do such a thing?” Along come many “thumbs up” to this wonderful woman who adores her children showing the world how she can never imagine another woman committing such a crime? It is unthinkable to contemplate what could drive a creature who is compassionate, kind and gentle to kill her young?
When a story like this breaks, the qualification of such actions brings a woman’s femininity into the equation. Then of course her mental health is brought into the mix to throw up a cobbled story with little or no substance. Backed up further, is the failings of systems who were either involved or should have been involved to prevent such an act and hence, media frenzy follows.
If we were to ask 100 people which woman represents a “monster of a woman” I’d lay a pound, each of those 100 people to come up with the name of Myra Hindley. Myra Hindley is not remembered for being a woman. She is remembered for her acts as a woman. The media portrayal, half a century later, depicts her as evil. It is accepted Ian Brady committed acts of horror, yet more has been written over Myra Hindley’s involvement. We understand Brady and his psychopathic tendencies, but even today, Hindley’s involvement is hard to define.
Yet, we have many women who say they would do “anything” for their children. These women are portrayed as heroines. Movies detail such events. A woman who commits murder as a revengeful act against a person who has harmed her child is depicted as a woman who was driven to this because of the act against her child. She has conviction, a determination and her loss is driven by her maternal need. She kills the person who has harmed her child, everybody applauds her. Sympathy and empathy follows from many who say they would do the same. There is little condemnation of a woman who commits an act against someone who has harmed her child.
I have given birth to three children and none of those children are with me. Two have spent their teens with another woman, one who I do not know. She is married to their father. She has her own child now. Frankly, I feel the lesser of the two evils, despite having had the long finger of Regina pointing down on me. Any woman who takes, without permission, children of another woman because of her love for a man, commits the biggest of theft imaginable. I mean really? How many mothers would give their children to a stranger? Yet there are no press reports around her – only me. I committed acts of fraud. Looking at my mother, who last saw her children being driven away by another woman in 1977, after a Judge ordered the removal of her children (one of them being me) and given to another woman who fell in love with their father. My mother was then abandoned by the state, her doctor, the father of her children and it took me until I was 42 to find her side of the story. I found her homeless, broken, having been spat on, robbed and walked past many times a day. Again, platitudes of “poor woman” or “how could this happen?” She will never recover from the loss of her children and it’s all very well for those who say “Oh how lovely you’re back in her life”
Press reports on women who commit crime are never easy for me to read and I have flown a one-woman-plane in commenting on how harsh the media is on women. Naturally, I get the usual “whataboutery” from men who claim they have just as hard a time, but the biggest resistance, anger, hatred and awful comments have come from women.
There are a handful of people who I have spoken with who truly do understand what a woman goes through when she commits a crime. Usually women who have also committed a crime.
It is pointless asking the media industry to tone down their reporting – we all having a living to earn, right?
Media reports lull us into believing that women who commit crime are evil. Societal norms drive social engineering and the media play a huge part in socially engineering that women who commit crimes are evil, mad or downright bad. So the next time any person reads a headline where a woman has committed a crime, perhaps remember the very contribution to society’s attitude around women is being created because of what is sold as copy.