Here are two stories, both appearing on the Stuff newspapers website today.
Story number one, about a woman who was assaulted in the early hours of the morning in downtown Wellington. NB: She was able to fight off the man who assaulted her, with assistance from a family member.
Assault on woman in problem spot alley (Trigger warning for assault)
There is a poll accompanying this story.
The poll asks, “How safe do you think the central city is for women after dark?” (Emphasis mine.)
Story number two, about a man who was assaulted in the early hours of the morning in downtown Hamilton, with serious consequences for him.
Arrest in city bashing (Trigger warning for assault)
Here are the differences I see.
1. The first story identifies the gender of the victim in the headline but the second story doesn’t.
2. The first story is accompanied by a poll which makes gender central to the issue of safety but the second story doesn’t.
3. If you click through to the stories, you will see that the first story has comments enabled, but the second hasn’t. Warning: as Tallulah says, under no circumstances read the comments.
Same old story: men are normative, women are a special case, and when a woman is assaulted, it’s because she didn’t take care to keep herself safe.
On the positive side, the text in both stories avoids overt victim blaming, ‘though there is just a hint of it in the police officer in the first story pointing out that, “Historically, it is an alleyway where there has been assaults.” The second story has a police officer saying, “he warned on the day of the attack such behaviour, as happened on the corner of Hood and Alexandra Streets about 3.30am, could and would not be tolerated. “