On Monday, March 8, as part of an event to celebrate International Women’s Day, Prof Rosalind Gill from the Centre for Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College, will give a keynote address to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on representations of women in the media. The event is part of a number of awareness-raising actions of the Equal Opportunities Unit, designed for Council of Europe staff, judges from the European Court of Human Rights, and members of the Permanent Delegations of the 47 member states. The event is chaired by the Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.
Prof Gill will highlight three particular areas of concern about the representation of women in the media: the troubling role the media play in reporting sexual violence; the increasingly narrow and sexualized roles in which women appear in the media; and resurgence of sexism in a post-‘political correctness’ climate in which any objection is dubbed ’humourless whingeing.’
In relation to sexual violence, Prof Gill will draw on a well established body of research that looks at ‘rape myths’ and how these are perpetuated by the media, as well as on her own analyses of newspaper coverage of recent rape cases. She will argue that inaccurate and sexist media reporting contributes to a ‘blame culture’ in which significant numbers of people believe that women are partly responsible if they are sexually attacked.
Prof Gill, who recently gave evidence to the Home Office study on the impact of sexualisation, will also critique the growing sexualisation of culture, and, in particular, the tendency to wrap old-fashioned sexually objectifying images of women in a new and feisty veneer of postfeminist empowerment and choice. She will, however, caution against a moralistic or censorious response, elaborating a position that is ‘sex positive but anti-sexism’.
Finally, Prof Gill will argue that we are seeing a resurgence of sexism in recent years as part of a ’culture of cruelty’ that is played out disproportionately over women’s bodies. She will argue that this is connected to the rise of celebrity culture, as well as to a climate of post-‘political correctness ‘ in which attempts to secure greater equality are mocked.