“Man banned from talking to women”

That’s what the headline says.  But it’s actually not that at all.  A man with a pattern of cycling up to women he doesn’t know, grabbing their bottoms, and hurling abuse at them has been banned from approaching women he doesn’t know, in the open air, unless he has good reason for it. But you can bet this story will get reported as something much more dramatic, based on the headline, and used as an example of feminism gone mad.  This sort of sloppy reporting (and headline writing) has played a really important role in convincing people that laws against sexual harassment are ridiculously restrictive.  (For more on that, see this excellent article by Deborah Zalesne.)

4 thoughts on ““Man banned from talking to women”

  1. So… I thought I’d take a look at how this was reported else where. Surprisingly bettering the BBC, the Mail, here
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=472625&in_page_id=1770
    affords the story this headline:

    ‘Serial cyclist groper banned from talking to women for five years.’
    It also reports on the Judge’s take on the matter:

    ‘Judge Field said: “Looking at these offences individually, they do not amount to very serious sexual offences, although any offences of this nature on a female in a public park is serious as far as they are concerned.’

    Kind of strange comment, no?

  2. Further to this, here’s a look at the Sun taking very seriously the problem of sexual harassment and assault, helpfully providing their readers with a ‘Pre-rumptial agreement’.

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2007350841,00.html

    Zalesne seems to focus on the media hyperbolising sexual harassment cases. This seems to be an instance of just being downright infantile about it (see ridiculous slide show the Sun provides in link above).

  3. It is sloppy headline writing at best. But at the same time, I think we expect too much from staff writers and editors. They’re not out to make feministic headlines. They’ve simply there to report a story. With deadlines/layout specifications/space, very rarily will a writer spend more than few minutes (if that) writing a headline.

    This is when we’ve got to take feminism into our own hands, though, and create our own space.

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