Beyond Sound Bytes and Media Gore – The Real Failure of International Women’s Day

I have been stewing on this one for a few days.  Weighing in on gender issues is a good way to get blown up in the minefield. Especially when you work in a traditionally male-dominated industry like photography:  different viewpoints and new ways of seeing things are not always appreciated.  But a tragedy happened this month to someone I knew, and the ripple effects from this event will continue to impact society — that’s you and me — for years to come.

But let’s start with Bob McCown’s remarks about why men watch women’s sports.  McCown hosts Prime Time Sports on FAN590, a Toronto station that, according to the description of the program on the internet, “goes beyond the scores and digs into the major issues in sports to look at them from a Canadian point of view.”  Infamously, on International Women’s Day, McCown opened up his program with comments to the effect that men only watch women’s sports because they (the men) want to see attractive female bodies.  Since women’s sport is supposedly inferior in strategy and execution, the only reason why a guy would tune in is to catch some T&A.  This simplistic viewpoint caused quite a stir in the media which is understandable given the fact that there is enough truth in the statement to make you think about it, but not enough to be truly accurate for many men.  Making the pronouncement on International Women’s Day was a rather cheap way to get some attention.  Certainly statements such as these do not reflect the description of the show to “go beyond the scores” and “dig into major issues” from a “Canadian point of view”.  In the reaction to these assertions, many commentators felt that, with sexist and dismissive statements such as these bandied about, what gains in being ‘treated equally’ had women really made?

In the end, though, McCown’s statements only serve to dumb down the debate.  Not only has he insulted women, he has also reduced all men to their basic (and most treasured?) appendage.  I personally know men who think further than their dicks, so I don’t put much credibility on McCown’s poorly constructed comments.

For me, the real failure of International Women’s Day occurred when I learned that a former classmate of mine had been murdered by her husband this month.  Apparently, from what I could find in the few headlines that reported on the event, the couple had a troubled relationship; police had been called to the couple’s home in the past due to domestic issues.  There are children involved ranging from teenager to under 2 years old who have been deprived of both parents with one act.

International Women’s Day was a failure because domestic violence has shattered another home.

International Women’s Day was a failure because the media paid more attention to the ignorant comments of an attention-starved Mouth than to a tragedy that will create ripple effects through society, including impacting services that are engaged in such circumstances, such as social services, the justice system and the health care system.

International Women’s Day was a failure because, in the few articles that did report on the murder, many headlined the grisly and upsetting details of the killing as a way to get reader attention rather than reference the overarching issue of violence against women.

And finally, International Women’s Day was a failure because of the way that society — that’s you and me — still perceive violence against women as an item unworthy of much discussion or action.  Until we take this issue seriously, giving both men and women the tools they need to end violence, well…in the end, it is us who fail.



~ by Samantha on March 21, 2011.

2 Responses to “Beyond Sound Bytes and Media Gore – The Real Failure of International Women’s Day”

  1. I could not agree with you more Sam.

    Every time women seem to make a leap forward, something comes along to smash that backwards by ten times the amount.

    Bob McCown is an idiot, always has been, always will be. A typical “jock” and with no grey matter to speak of. Yes he did it to stir the pot, since it was probably a slow day in sports. But he should use what is between his massive ears for once instead of spouting off his usual rubbish.

    Domestic violence has always been a sore point with me. The police get called, sometimes more than once, but because they did not witness the act happening in most cases, there is supposedly nothing they can do. The next time they get called it is usually because the chicken shit man beat his wife or girlfriend to death. It makes me so angry that society can seemingly do nothing to prevent this from happening over and over.

    In Canada women should be much better off than in many other parts of the world and yet one has to ask….are they?

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Craig. I think as a society we have to give not only women but men the tools to deal with any anger, depression or confusion they may feel. Instead, we stuff people into tidy boxes and retard their emotional development. Not only are these kinds of meltdowns tragic, but they’re also costly to society in many ways.

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