I wasn’t going to blog about the “Define Statutory” Facebook page set up by some male students at St Paul’s college at Sydney University. It’s a disgusting story about some privileged misogynistic wankers who think it’s cool to be sex offenders.
But what I do want to write about is the way readers’ opinions are shaped by the way stories are written. It’s an SMH story, but News.com.au did a re-write. (AAP would have also done one.)
What News.com.au left out was that the group tagged the page as “anti-consent” and “pro-rape”. Look at the comments on the News.com.au story – it’s an ill-informed debate about statutory rape because the “anti-consent” description is missing, and readers are dismissing the “pro-rape” in the headline as a media beat-up. (I guess I don’t need to point out the higher quality of the comments on the story at smh.com.au.)
The problem is that News.com.au readers – and readers of any site with an inferior re-write – will have a completely different understanding of the story, and each time it happens, readers will dismiss rape stories as just media beat-ups.
Update: Jezebel has a great piece on how Facebook allows this “hilarious” pro-rape group in the “Sports and Recreation” category, but doesn’t allow women to post photos of themselves breastfeeding.