Challenge the media
We know that the media reports male crime as having been committed by women. Sometimes female pronouns and a female name are used to refer to male criminals. Sometimes the male is referred to as a woman, as a daughter or as a mother. You can read more about that in The use of language.
Words are powerful. When male crime is presented as having been committed by a woman, it tells a lie. The drip-drip effect starts to change our thinking about the crimes that women commit and the risk they present. This is particularly important when the crime is one that is rarely committed by women and overwhelmingly committed by men, such as sexual assault, child sexual offences and serious violent crime.
It is important that we challenge this when it happens. You can do this in several ways:
1. Social media
Most news outlets will have Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can post, linking to the article, pointing out that this is a male and why the report is inaccurate.
2. Comment ‘below the line’
Where the report has been published on the online version of a newspaper or magazine, you can post a comment ‘below the line’ pointing out that this is a male and that he should be referred to as such. You will need to register and create an account to do this, but you can choose a user name to maintain your anonymity.
3. Contact the news outlet directly
Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper or to the journalist who wrote the piece. Using social media and posting comments online are good ways of informing the public about what it going on. However, the best way to communicate with the newspaper, news outlet or journalist is to contact them directly. We suggest you email rather than sending a letter in the post.
4. Make a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)
IPSO is the independent regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK. IPSO holds newspapers and magazines to account for their actions, protects individual rights, upholds high standards of journalism and helps maintain freedom of expression in the press. The Editors’ Code of Practice is key here. This sets out the rules that newspapers and magazines have agreed to follow. Where these rules have been broken, newspapers and magazines can be held to account.
You can read more about IPSO and the Editors’ Code on the Fair Play website. Fair Play have also produced a Media Guide.