Taking sexual harassment seriously

So I mentioned this in comments, but I think it’s worth a post of its own: the Sun reports on the televised bum-pinching incident, in which Ch4 news reporter Sue Turton was sexually assaulted by a passer by.

The article by Zalesne talks of the way that ‘the press reinforces the notion that the whole idea of sexual harassment is silly’. She claims that one way in which they do this is report, inaccurately, about cases in which seemingly small or silly offences (an inappropriate joke, a slightly raunchy picture) have been, via sexual harassment law, punished seriously;   cases in which the law has been used by employees to get back at their employers, and so on.

Here’s an example which doesn’t quite fit the models of media reporting  she offers, but is clearly a case of the press failing to take sexual harassment seriously: the Sun report has a tone which suggests the whole matter is just hilarious. They provide a ‘bum pinch’ video of their own, and a ‘Pre-rumptial agreement’, which one can get would-be pinchees to sign so as to avoid standing accused of harassment. Ok, so it’s not like you’d expect great reporting on this from the Sun, but this is just depressing.

Interestingly selective reporting (admittedly, I’m making something of an inferential leap here) from the Sun: note that most of the comments that they include in the main article are mostly pro-bum-pinching, e.g.:

‘I didn’t see the news reporter who got her bum pinched but it sounds to me she shouldn’t get so upset. These things are just a bit of fun most of the time.’

But then if you scroll down to the comments section, some of the attitudes expressed there are much more critical.

Taking Victim-Blaming to New Heights

Feministing reports on this case of a woman in the US Air Force apparently being charged in her own rape. Really. Cara writes:

So. The woman was raped. By three men. She reported her rape. She was harassed by her superiors, to the point where she became too afraid to testify. The Air Force took this as meaning that the sex was therefore consensual (which isn’t what it means at all), and charged her [with “indecent acts”] in the case of her own rape. If she loses her case, she could be publicly registered as a sex offender.Sounds like it couldn’t get any worse, right? But it does. How? The three alleged attackers were offered sexual assault immunity to testify against Hernandez on the indecent acts charge. Having at least half a brain cell among them, they accepted.

Now, of course we don’t know what really happened in this case, and the court-martial has yet to take place. But I have a hard time imagining a scenario such that justice is being done.