Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I drink therefore I am . . . a woman.

Over the past few weeks we've noticed a real misogyny attached to the reporting on extended drinking hours. Almost every article you see, even in the more liberal press, is accompanied by a photograph of a woman lying down in the street, looking the worse for wear. Pretty lazy journalism, aside from anything else.

I picked up the Standard on the tube last week and spotted another little trick - juxtaposition. An article on licensing hours was placed next to a small piece about an elderly man killed by a "drunken yob" who had drunk "at least seven pints of lager". The suggestion presumably being that if pubs are allowed to serve alcohol 24 hours a day, lots of little old ladies will be stabbed to death. Not very subtle but can be effective.

Here's some examples from The bbc, The Mail on Sunday and The Daily Mail.

Women are criticised in the press for their drinking habits much more often than men. Recent stories have included health warnings "Epidemic of liver disease hits women drinkers", and suggestions that women are to blame for being sexually assaulted "Third of young women assaulted while drunk". And true to form, The Sun stated its position clearly on October 3 with the headline 'Women drink hell'. And finally, an article in the Observer "Bingeing women fuel crime" even suggested that women were to blame for male violence: "The days of women exerting a civilising influence in pubs may be fading...".

Here's a bit of analysis:

Number of articles about alcohol and women in the UK nationals (not FT) over the past year: 162
Number of articles about alcohol and men in the UK nationals (not FT) over the past year: 102

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