Good Women vs Bad Men—An insight into media gender stereotyping

Any reference to patriarchy in any of our articles is based on the dictionary definition of patriarchy–essentially a societal norm of awarding authority roles to men. does not support the second-wave or RadFem definition of patriarchy as a cruel, oppressive male societal construct.
Take a look at the following headline and make your own assumptions. Which gender do you think the teacher is?
‘Sixth-Grade Teacher Charged with Rape of 13 year old boy…’(actual article here)
At the start of the female revolution, feminists famously led a controversial argument, ‘Maybe god is a woman’.  It caused a lot of people to look long and hard at a patriarchal bias to promote power-roles as male, to recognise male achievement and to promote awareness of the male contribution to society.  Unfortunately, feminism did not follow that argument through to the next logical conclusion: ‘If god is a woman, then in all likelihood, so is the devil.’
When it comes to societal perception of gender, we are still living with the hangover of this unfortunate norm, a focus on female light and male shadow (—Warren Farrell).
Modern western culture promotes a strong push for the positive recognition of women and a decline in the positive recognition of men.   The reasoning behind this is the belief that women need to be empowered to be equal to men and that further positive reinforcement of men as a group only broadens what feminism has defined as a gender power gap.   If you’re unsure if this is accurate, type “empowering women” and “empowering men” (use the quote marks for an exact search) into google and see the vast difference in the number of results and the tone of those pages.
Feminism’s push to create choice as to whether women adhere to female gender role (mother/nurterer) combined with a societal norm of continuing to propagate the enforcement of, and obligations attached to, male gender role (protector/provider)—a role that teaches men it is their duty to protect women—creates four powerful media norms in western culture:
  1. The female good news story. 
  2. The no-gender good news story.
  3. The male bad news story.  
  4. The no-gender bad news story.
There is an argument that this norm is the failing of the male-gender centricity inherent in all language. There is some merit to this, but take a look at that list again and note the times that gender is deliberately added or omitted. That isn’t just male centric language.  This is made worse by the fact that societally we preference bad news over good news, leading to more frequent publicising of bad news stories. 
These things combined mean that the headline you are most likely to read when you pick up a paper or search a news site is (see exact search matches at end of article):
‘Gunman slays ten’ 1 rather than ‘Fireman saves ten’.2
On the occasion a good news story appears, you are most likely to see female achievement stories such as ‘First woman arrives at space station.’3
When the story champion is female, we declare sex. When the story perpetrator is male, we declare sex.  When the story champion is male, we have a preference of declaring gender neutrality:
‘Firefighter saves ten…’4
When the story perpetrator is female we declare gender neutrality:
Teacher rapes student…’5
Please note that the only reason the female news story is the focus of this image, is that this is the article I clicked on after a google search, a search which displayed title only.
On the rare occasion that gender neutrality does not occur for the male good news story, we declare an individual, not the male gender:
Robert Johnson, the voice for change.’ 6
The outcome of this is a public perception message that ‘a good man’ is the exception and that ‘bad men’ are the norm. Take a look at the statistics at the end of this article and you will get some small insight into why this norm is completely backwards.
This norm influences societal perception of men at the macro and the micro level, and that perception heavily impacts all levels of gender debate and all traction for men’s equality (eg family law) and gender issues.  How? Consider some of the following: 
  • Do you feel the statement “You’re just a girl,” is damaging to women?
  • Do you feel the statement, “Be a man,” is damaging to men?
  • Do you feel a lack of equal representation in high power jobs is damaging to women?
  • Do you feel a lack of equal representation in low power jobs is damaging to men?
  • Do you feel female circumcision is damaging to women?
  • Do you feel male circumcision is damaging to men?
  • Do you feel that 4/5 of rape victims being female, is damaging to women?
  • Do you feel that 4/5 of murder victims being male, is damaging to men?
  • Do you feel hate crimes like “acid attacks” on women in extremist countries, is damaging to women?
  • Do you feel that in those same countries, the fact that sons and fathers are selling their internal organs to fulfil their male gender role of provider, is damaging to men?

Your ability to strongly say ‘yes’ to all of those questions will normally depend on three things: which gender you are, how ingrained you are in gender role and how deeply societal gender perception affects you.  

The most common reaction is to have no idea at all of the male counterpart as an issue, and if you do, to assign severity to those issues and to downplay them, rather than merely accept that the only thing the above list signifies is that both genders experience issues which must be addressed. If you think that last statement might represent you, I’d ask you to take just one of those itemsa position that is often deemed to be completely acceptable:
Do you feel male circumcision is damaging to men?
I challenge you to put together any group of uncircumcised men at all, and ask them which of them is in favor of having the end of their penis cut off.  See if you can get any takers. 
As for severity?  I personally don’t debate severity.  A debate in severity ends in the emotional validation of one person, and no advancement of anyone’s equality or gender issues. 
A fight for female equal rights and the removal of female gender role was only the first step towards gender equality.  Until concerted effort is made to end the enforcement of both gender roles, to create equal rights for both genders, to remove both male and female privilege, and to end the negative societal perceptions attached to gender—gender equality will remain an unachievable reality.
Food for thought:  
  1. As of 2007, there were 1,148,500 firefighters in the United States (not including firefighters who work for the state or federal governments or in private fire departments). Of these, 28% are career and 72% are volunteer. This is a career group made up almost 100% by men, with female employee’s primarily filling ‘safe’ support roles.

    In 2013 America had six mass shootings by six individuals, each spoken of in media as a ‘gunman’.

    Compare the number of stories on each, see below:
1 Google search on ‘gunman’ news articles: 47,000 results
2 Google search for ‘fireman saves’ news articles: 331 results
3 Google search on ‘woman achieve’ news articles: 41,800 results
4 Google search for ‘firefightersaves’ = 5,610 results
5Teacher rapes’ articles: there are over 4000 results for this, but whether they are about a female teacher raping someone you can only tell by going through each article, one at a time.  Regardless, the heading gives no indication of gender, the outcome is when a man rapes we name men and ‘men’ are seen as perpetrators, when we neutralise female gender bad news stories the assumption is men are responsible for those acts too because women don’t commit rape. Take a look at the picture of the included article that has the aforementioned ‘teacher rapes story,’ notice the column on the right?…
6 Individual good male articles: Basically impossible to show numbers on as it requires searching one individual male at a time and even then the credit goes to ‘a man’ not to ‘men’.

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