Coverage of Domestic Violence by RTE
We heard a good deal on RTE radio about domestic abuse during the crisis. There were interviews with representatives of women’s groups on how levels of domestic abuse had increased 25%, how refuges were unable to cope, the need to treat coercive control seriously.
But the whole narrative was one-way, skewed, utterly biased. A trawl through the records of two premier RTE current affairs programmes: Morning Ireland and Today with Sean O’Rourke (after May 8 Today with Sarah McInerney), over the period mid-march to mid-June did not reveal a single interview with a spokesperson for Men’s Aid. On the other hand, there were five with representatives of support groups for women.
The Today programme featured two interviews with Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid on April 27 and June 9 and one on March 26 with a social worker at the Cuanlee Women’s Refuge.
Morning Ireland interviewed Safe Ireland on June 3, and on June 11 featured an interview with a UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. The pretext for this was that the National Women’s Council was holding an online conference on Challenging Violence Against Women at which the Keynote speaker was the UN Special Rapporteur above.
In passing let it be noted there is no UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Men or even on Violence alone. In their book Legalising Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men, Nathanson and Young write that “Feminists have turned the UN into the global headquarters of feminist missionaries”. Some 1300 “gender focal points” exist to address “gender” or “women” in the UN system according to feminists who insist it is not enough.
The Official Narrative and the Reality
The outcome of this bias is predictable: the impression created is that only women are victims, men are never victims but always perpetrators. This is the official narrative, a sacred script which is not to be questioned. It is very hard to overestimate the damage such a narrative creates and imposes. It has been going for decades, in one sense it is nothing new. What is new is the intensity of the narrative, the opportunity to reinforce and ram home the message during a 3-month period in which people were forced to live together 24 hours a day 7 days a week with almost no respite. In such circumstances in homes where relations are already strained, nerves are often stretched to breaking point. In situations where a support service is already grossly inadequate, its capacity to deal with calls is likely to be stretched way past their limit.
Perhaps RTE wasn’t interested in finding out the pathetic, lamentable state of support services for male victims. Men’s Aid operates a 9 to 5 service Monday to Friday from a provincial town, Navan. There is no service in the greater Dublin area where well over 1 million people reside. On the other hand there are 38 groups around the country which support female victims including some very well-funded groups such as Women’s Aid, Sonas, Aoibhneas, Adapt which provide a 24/7 service and Safe Ireland which claims to be a coordinating service. There are 20 refuges for women, not a single one for men.
When you have already neglected a running sore for decades, it is so much easier to continue in the same course, so much more difficult to break the mould. To do otherwise could raise all sorts of awkward questions: how come this has been going on for so long? why was this not inquired into earlier? where was the RTE investigation unit which has been delving into hidden, squalid areas of Irish society and why did it not carry out an in-depth inquiry here? Troubling questions for RTE staff and ones which more generally are challenging mainstream media across the world. Alternative media have focused attention on how journalists deal with culture wars, with social justice activists; there are persistent allegations of selectivity, of favoured groups and others with pariah status.
There is persistent bias, a deep ingrained misandry
Such is the level of perceived bias that more and more people are now switching to other sources for news concerning matters they feel are never dealt with fairly. This accounts for the swift growth of an online journal such as Quillette which has featured some of the best journalism and has brought attention to some of the most incisive stories since its foundation in 2015.
Men’s Voices Ireland has been in existence since early 2016. It was founded because of the complete lack of and dire need for an advocacy group for men. We have sought to bring attention to issues of great significance for men such as the way the family law courts function, how they discriminate against men, to the scandal of male suicide, to the biased and false domestic violence narrative and to many others including the fundamental fact that there is no national state funded advocacy group for men such as the NWC for women. Indeed, there are state-funded organisations for almost every conceivable group in society: women, children, the aged, migrants, travellers, LGBT, people with disabilities, ethnic groups, but none for men.
In all that time though we importuned RTE many times we have never been invited on to a current affairs programme to talk about any of these issues. Not once. We could say the same for national dailies, the Irish Times, Independent media, Irish Examiner; nothing.
This is no accident; it speaks of persistent bias, of a deep ingrained misandry. We know it is not confined to Ireland but goes on across the western world. When the film The Red Pill which won awards for excellence was even banned in certain countries because it sought to draw awareness to festering male issues, it speaks volumes.
It is likely that the Covid-19 pandemic will bring about far-reaching changes at all levels of society and focus attention more than ever before on how money is spent, where and on what; on the level of duplication which exists and which wastes scarce resources.