Friday, March 7, 2008

Media Coverage and DV

From the publication that brought you Ike "Beats" Tina to Death, comes this charming and poignant piece, Miss-Leading: The truth about gal's serial fibbing.

Now, strictly speaking, this is not an article, it's a sub-par book review. However, The Post presents the findings in this book as factual news rather than the results of an extremely small and flawed study.
Deceit, thy name is woman. Most females lie "more cleverly and successfully than men" about everything from infidelity and facelifts to barhopping and shopping binges, according to a new book.
Susan Shapiro Barash, author of "Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets: The Truth About Why Women Lie," claims to have done a study encompassing 500 women nationwide. However, The Post discloses that Barash obtained the subjects of her study through an ad on Craigslist where she solicited women who wanted to confess fibs they had told in the past. She put out an ad asking for liars, and claims the fact that liars have lied is scientific proof that women lie more than men. In addition to the flawed method of gathering subjects, there was no male control group for comparison.

The mainstream media portrayal of women as inherently stupid, or inherently deceitful is not only offensive, it's dangerous. These stereotypes are often used by batterers in domestic violence situations to justify on-going abuse, or are used as a vehicle to deny to the public that abuse ever took place by making the victim look dishonest. This type of thinking leads to disclosures of violence not being taken seriously by friends, family, clergy, law enforcement, etc. If you're doubtful that these portrayals are in line with mainstream attitudes about women, just ask yourself how a piece this offensive and deeply flawed got through an editorial board, into a newspaper, and remained there with little public protest, or how a book based on this premise was deemed shelf-worthy.

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