Journalism and Gender
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CAMPBELL DOUGLAS JOURNALISM & GENDER ASSIGNMENT 3 - PEACE MAY 2003 IPPY won't give her real name because of the outstanding arrest warrants and besides, why should she trust a journalist after being "done over" by the press at Greenham Common women's peace camp? She finally agrees to be interviewed and quoted in her own words after conceding that some good may come from the exercise. Years after she and her sisters were dismissed in the media as dykes in dungarees or woolly-minded liberals who should have been at home looking after the children, she's still wary of how she will be portrayed. "I first visited the camp in 1984 and I was involved until the bitter end," she says. "I grew up in the 70s and 80s and I was aware of nuclear weapons being such an important issue. Sitting at home watching TV, I saw all these crazy women and thought, 'I want to do that'. It seemed to be interesting and different. I was a teenager when I first got involved and it was very easy for me to walk out of school and join the peace camp.
In terms of discrimination alone, evidence would suggest they are. Martha Gellhorn, the late veteran US journalist, visited the peace camp in February 1984. Writing in the Observer Magazine that month, she says: "These unpretentious women, in their beat-up warm clothes, have become a world-wide symbol and model for countless ordinary people who say no." She goes on to describe the diversity of the women who include a Scottish forester, German kindergarten teacher, American psychotherapist and hostel worker. She compares the women with suffragettes, derides Margaret Thatcher and details attacks by male vigilantes. It is an account of women living collectively and responsibly with a moral purpose. MORE PEACE 3 But Brian Vine's Daily Mail feature, written in June 1984, contrasts sharply. "Sue Hanson, a sprig of a girl from Mid America's Heartlands, believes she is more liberated than any of the Greenham Common women on the other side of the missile fence - both literally and idealogically. Lieutenant Hanson, a bespectacled blonde, is the only woman in the Cruise programme in Britain capable of obliterating Leningrad at the touch of a button. 'My face will never be as lacking in makeup as theirs...I'm a liberationalist, not a feminist.'
They were backed by tattooed and painted faced punks and skinheads who apparently couldn't tell the difference between a missile site and a roller disco." Here language is used as a weapon against women. The words "ugly face" are used both in the headline and the intro, close to "sisters" and "women". The scene is described as a battle of the sexes, but no evidence is offered. By saying: "...concerned housewives and grandmothers had gone home...", the writers somehow suggest home is where these respectable females belong. They claim police battled with "mainly hard-core left-overs", implying a fight with scum, then say officers played a softly-softly game, but faced accusations from the "screaming horde". Protestors are labelled as militant feminists and burly lesbians acting as storm troops, without any evidence whether this is relevant or factual. The women are then ridiculed by claims they were mixed up over a missile site and a roller disco. Aggressive and confused language is used here. The tone can be identified as hysterical, anti-female and pro-establishment. A story about a protest against nuclear weapons with three arrests turns into a tirade against non-conformist women.
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