Describe ONE specific example of a portrayal of "gender bias" in the media (must be related to crime), and describe how this affects people's views.

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scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Several years ago when Mary Winkler, a Tennessee minister's wife, shot and killed her husband, the media immediately began portraying her as troubled and abused by her husband, even though there was seemingly no evidence to support that portrayal of her husband. She fled the crime scene with her small children and traveled aimlessly through several states in the family van. If a man had shot his wife and then fled with the small children, he would have been described as "most likely armed and dangerous."  Even throughout the coverage of the trial, much of the coverage focused on "poor" Mary Winkler and seemed to be instead a trial of her dead husband.

In regards to how this affected viewers, it seemed that during the coverage of the incident, people wanted to believe that there was something evil about Winkler that would cause a young mother and wife to shoot him in such a manner and then flee in a strange manner.  Americans have a difficult time thinking of women shooting someone out of rage or for any reason other than self-defense, but perhaps that is because of the way female-committed crimes have always been portrayed versus the media's handling of male-driven crimes.

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In the United States under our law, reporters for newspapers or television are allowed to release the names of both suspects and those who are accused of crimes, even if they haven't been convicted yet.  They have to use words like "accused" and "alleged" so they don't get sued for libel if the person is found innocent, but this affects the gender bias you are referring to.

When sexual misconduct by teachers is alleged, the media and the public in general treat male teachers and female teachers very differently.  The law, of course, is the same for each gender, but offenses by male teachers tend to be reported more often, and tend to receive different coverage than those offenses allegedly committed by female educators.  There is some segment of society that thinks it is less wrong socially for a woman teacher to commit such an offense, say statutory rape, than a man.  While it is equally horrible that a teacher of either gender would violate this public trust, because there are so many more male sex offenders than female ones, people tend to react to accusations against a male with outrage, and against a female with a joke around the water cooler. The media simply reflects this difference in our society.

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