The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Forget The “Sex Predator”, How ‘Bout His Wife, Eh?

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 28, 2009

A brief MediaWatch-ish post for you this morning. I was reading “the papers” online and when I reached the bottom of the page, noticed Fairfax’s ‘Top Stories’ lists for their various interstate publications. This headline was holding the #1 spot in the BrisbaneTimes.com.au “charts”:

Picture 1

Naturally, I clicked on the story, detailing the sentencing of Luke James Colless, who pleaded guilty to “five counts of rape, five counts of assault with intent to commit rape, six counts of sexual assault and two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, over the attacks on 11 women”. Well, you might not assume as much given the story’s headline, but the “wife” in question rated a mention that lasted for less than a sentence; she wasn’t even noted by name. Here’s the full extent of the rapists’ wife’s appearance in the article:

Colless’ barrister Tony Kimmins said despite his offending, his client was supported by his wife and family.

And that’s it. In other words, out of the 556 words in the article, approximately 17 made any reference whatsoever to his wife.

What gives, brisbanetimes.com.au? Exactly which champion is coming up with your headlines? This may seem like subeditorial semantics, but there’s something particularly insidious about this headline that ignores the full horror of Luke James Colless’ crimes and, instead, makes some sort of Tammy Wynnette-esque comment on his wife standing by her man.

I hope I’m not the only one who thinks a simple “Sex predator faces life in jail” would have sufficed.

9 Responses to “Forget The “Sex Predator”, How ‘Bout His Wife, Eh?”

  1. [...] stupidity So here’s a quick update/content-jacking to get things moving again, courtesy of The Dawn Chorus: I was reading “the papers” online and when I reached the bottom of the page, noticed [...]

  2. eilish said

    It’s a motif that has cropped twice in the Fairfax media lately: Sally Robinson and Rita Theophanous have both been standing by their men. I think they want us to get the message that no matter how bad a man appears to be or is, his woman is duty bound to adore and support him.
    It’s important that women do this: because otherwise, we’ll all have to stop denigrating women for their lack of intelligence and self-esteem, and people might find it harder to justify and ignore misogyny.
    That would undo the very fabric of civilisation.

  3. [...] The Dawn Chorus, Clem Bastow notes the headline “Wife stands by bike path sex predator” – when one sentence out of a 556 word story mentioned the criminal’s [...]

  4. eilish said

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25993243-5006786,00.html

    It’s amazing how so much can be read into so little.

  5. hannah's dad said

    To make a bad thing slightly worse its not even a first hand report but is based on what the barrister said who also refers to ‘family’ which didn’t rate a mention in the headline probably because it would cost extra ink.

  6. OlderThanDirt said

    In New Jersey, U.S., a woman was raped in front of her small children in a parking garage of a hotel. She sued the hotel for negligence since the rapist had been observed hanging around for hours but was not even questioned, much less sent on his way. The hotel responded by accusing her of not doing enough to protect herself, victim-blaming in an incredible way. Feminists complained and a boycott (Marriott Hotels) was started. Marriott backed down and said they didn’t mean it, it was their attorneys who came up with the ‘defense’ and they made them stop that line immediately.

    The Trenton Times headline? RAPE RECANT. I shit you not. Oh yeah, nothing to see hear, just another story about a lying bitch. When the news doesn’t suit you, just make the headline into something more palatable.

  7. [...] Forget The “Sex Predator”, How ‘Bout His Wife, Eh? [...]

  8. I don’t think any woman in reality could ever stand by such a man unless she were sick. I agree that, “Sex predator faces life in jail” would have sufficed.

  9. eilish said

    “Rape recant”? I can see it was cheaper than “Apology”, but synonymous? “The rapist recanted to his victims.” Doesn’t work.

    http://www.theage.com.au/world/police-focus-on-monster-nancy-garrido-20090901-f6w3.html

    Love this. They are quoting a neighbour who disappointingly, doesn’t give any descriptions of Garrido behaving monstrously as she went shopping and brought in the rubbish bin and stuff.
    I’m awaiting news that she was responsible for the rapes and murders of the missing women in the area.

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