What A Silly Murdered Lesbian!
Posted by Mel Campbell on December 12, 2008
Just now I was reading a very sad story about a woman in Yagoona, NSW, who was found dead under suspicious circumstances in a hotel where she and her lesbian partner were long-term residents. But the way the Daily Telegraph “exclusively” decided to cover the story was very dispiriting: “Dead Yagoona woman a lesbian who thought she was a man”.
Headlines like this really expose the patriarchal idea that being a man is the best thing evz, being a hot hetero woman is the next best, and being a butch lesbian – a woman who doesn’t want to fuck men, but adopts other ‘manly’ attributes – is the absolute bottom of the heap.
The story goes on to detail how the dead woman’s partner is allegedly pregnant from a one-night stand – because, y’know, lesbians secretly crave spermination – and that the dead woman “had convinced herself she was the father of the child”. What a silly lesbian! Thought she was a man – and now she’s dead! Ding-dong!
Seriously, though, the most disgusting part about this story is that way it presents lesbianism as just another one of the “grim” yet sensationalised circumstances of a woman’s death. I found this story through a link on another page that read: “Tragic delusion: Lesbian’s life and death at Snake Pit”. The Snake Pit, you see, is a bar the couple, “both heavy drinkers”, frequented. The story repeatedly juxtaposes the victim’s sexuality with the run-down surrounds of the hotel where she lived. (The latter forms a “grim scene”, which the paper has helpfully made into a photo gallery.)
It’s just shoddy, exploitative journalism. The entire angle, complete with quotes, – that the murdered woman “thought she was a man” – comes from an unnamed “friend” of the couple who spoke to the paper. Didn’t the journalist, Lauren Williams, treat this story with any skepticism or compassion at all? Perhaps she even made the whole thing up – there’s no evidence she didn’t.
I hesitate to say dismissive stuff like, “Typical Daily Telegraph tabloid crap!” because we shouldn’t allow tabloids to get away with sexist, homophobic crap just because they’re tabloids. We should demand rigorous, unbiased reportage from all newspapers: bleeding-heart broadsheets and populist rags alike.