Encouraging social media users to UseTheRightWords
While increased media coverage of violence against women is needed to create awareness, it can be problematic when coverage misrepresents reality. For example, at times rape is reported as “sex” and there are hierarchies around who is considered a “worthy victim”. Words like “alleged” and “claimed” are overused and can suggest doubt in the survivor. Sexual assaults or sexual harassment might be labeled as a “scandal” which can imply consent. This misrepresentation directly affects viewer’s opinions about sexual violence against women.
Because of increased media attention around violence against women, it is important to change how sexual violence is reported.
Femifesto has developed a guide for journalists that includes information on sexual violence, when reporting on sexual assault. Femifesto is also encouraging social media users to share examples of bad media reporting of sexual violence on Twitter using the hashtag #UseTheRightWords. The hashtag is geared to get the media to report sexual violence accurately based on reality rather than stereotypes and myths.
The media needs to recognize they play a role in societal change. Media forms a lot of what people perceive as normal or acceptable and is a powerful tool to provide information to the masses. Because of its ability to reach multitudes of people with information it can truly have an empowering effect if reporting was more representative of reality and instead supported survivors and held perpetrators accountable.