MENZ Issues

The Culture of Denial and Feminism

When STUFF NATION put up their recent assignment, inviting writers to contribute to a debate on Equality in New Zealand (whether women have achieved equality in New Zealand society) I thought it might be interesting to look at this from the point of view of the background-role media play: whether media actually support equality of the sexes and which side of the equality debate they favour; accepting that equality is a collection of concepts as opposed to a defined word.

Media normally detest a culture of denial – it’s the noble cause of the journalist to be vigilant in the disclosure of truth for public consumption. In the face of war it can be somewhere between a challenging and fatal occupation, then at other times it throws up some interesting conflicts.

Home here in little old Aotearoa I’ve been watching National Party politician Judith Collins dig a rather large hole for herself; even after Collins has been forced by media to admit her misdeeds and misinformation, she stills clings by her fingertips to the cliffs of denial.

Our media have been ruthless in their pursuit, and rightfully so, but now ‘The Crusher’ as she became known for her hard-hitting stance on boy-racers, claims victim status.

The woman who might have been prime minister has taken that fatal step sideways from the brave new world of equality that offered her such a possibility into the murky realm of the Red-Fems; that sub-culture in which some women see themselves (and wish to be seen) as permanent victims in a man’s world.

Collins is not enhancing the image of female politicians, offering up a pretence that women should be allowed to deny responsibility – ‘sorry, this is not going to make it through the wash’ – is clearly the media position.

But then, this caught my eye this morning; where media may not see their own culture of denial.

Fort Lee Suicide

Soldier Who Shot Herself at Fort Lee Had Served for 13 Years, Including Iraq Tour

She didn’t miss either – it was a successful suicide.

It’s big news that a serving female soldier has killed herself; Sergeant Paula Walker will become a household name very quickly.

But what has been ignored for years has been increasing rates of male suicide in the US armed services. The body count for suicide on active duty is now higher than the casualty rate. The daily rate of suicide amongst active and non-active servicemen is 20 plus a day.

You may say that I am looking at this the wrong way around – that there was never a culture of denial – there is and always has been simply just an acceptance that men are disposable. But then as Sgt Walker has stepped into the traditionally male theatre of war, what makes her suicide any different?

Is it simply news that will make money or are media claiming the victim card of her behalf?

Or, oh hell – there must be something wrong here, female soldiers are now committing suicide – have we been missing something?

US servicemen have obviously not been at peace with themselves for some time now, and that’s failed to gain any major traction. It’s a truth that perhaps is conveniently denied on the basis that it is a necessary consequence for the survival of a society or is this too challenging and fatal for a journalist to go down this path and be at war with their home state.

Perhaps we shouldn’t dwell too much on the contradiction and be too quick to knock the publicity – this women’s suicide may have done us blokes a favour. That, I think, too often has been the false hope of similar reporting and begs questions of media.

Has equality become the convenience of the story, rather than truth the objective outcome?

Do media unwittingly apply different concepts of equality and leave the average man unrepresented and the victim of media discrimination?

So, let’s throw the analysis back at these guys – what are your thoughts on equality for men when it comes to media reporting?