Problematic headlines

Dear smh.com.au,

Today you have run two stories on your front page about successful women in the entertainment industry. Both headlines highlight not the women’s success, but their prior relationships. Why!?

Headlines from the front page of smh.com.au today:

Cameron pipped by ex-wife
Kathryn Bigelow scoops best director BAFTA for The Hurt Locker, beating Avatar director.

Mad men, modern woman
January Jones has confounded ex-boyfriend Ashton Kutcher’s prediction she’d never make it as an actress.

Boohoo Cameron didn’t win a BAFTA for best director. A woman beat him to it! Shock, horror! His ex-wife! If he had won would the headline have been “Bigelow pipped by ex-husband”?? I think not.

And who the hell cares what January Jones’ ex-boyfriend thinks about her acting? What an awful thing to say about your ex-partner to begin with, but why must it be repeated in the headline of an article that celebrates her acting?

Clearly, women still have a long way to go. They can be successful, well-known and win prestigious awards, yet they’re still not talked about in the media as successful on their own terms, but continually linked to the men in their lives…even when those men are ex-partners!

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5 Responses to “Problematic headlines”

  1. Nicholas Says:

    The SMH is a terrible paper for inflammatory headlines. Still,the biggest story on smh.com.au right now is “Rock’s femmes fatales”. This headline has nothing to do with husbands, ex- or otherwise — It objectifies women for a totally different reason!

    Seriously though, I expect the Cameron headline was in there because Avatar was a ridiculously big deal, so they had to report on its BAFTA failure somehow (but is 2 awards really so bad?) Perhaps the alternative would have been “Poor showing for Avatar”. In other words, Avatar (anything) is a bigger story.

    Also, check out this tally of boob-related or boob-picture-accompanied headlines on the front page: “Video: Naked fur protest…”, “Rock’s femmes fatales”, “Supermodel size me!”, “Party recovery in city of baths”.

    Compare with news.com.au, where there are none. Does this mean conservatives are less sexist? Or are they just all too old to be titillated by this sort of thing? 🙂

  2. Alice Says:

    Well said, Pen. I don’t buy the argument about Avatar being a bigger story, although that’s possibly because my loathing for Avatar means I try not to think about it when possible.

  3. Tim Byron Says:

    Nicholas: a more appropriate comparison for SMH’s front page is the Daily Telegraph rather than news.com.au; the Daily Telegraph has beach nudists, Lads Mag Fave hangs up bikini, Babes of the 80s (etc). The Australian is impressively “real news”-ish, though, though it has its own problems.

    Obviously, the SMH has this kind of bullshit because they believe it increases pageviews. Presumably some puffed-up suggestion of conflict between exes makes a bullshit story about who won some British award or a puff piece about an actress seem more interesting. I doubt either would have been on the front page without the conflict between exes angle – I didn’t even know that anybody thought “January” was a first name, or cared about a British awards ceremony.

  4. Nicholas Says:

    I’m not sure about “appropriate”, but the BAFTA awards are on both dailytelegraph.com.au (with the ex-wife thing: “Cameron beaten by ex-wife at BAFTAs”) and theaustralian.com.au (without the ex-wife thing: “Bigelow wins latest battle of directors”).

    Both mention Avatar in the lede.

  5. Suzysiu Says:

    I agree with the sentiment that women should not be evaluated according to their partners, however smh online works to get clicks – I imagine we’re more interested in this kind of trash.

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