Since starting my petition a week ago, I have started getting an alarming amount of searches to my blog, referring to Reeva Steenkamp as a ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and ‘hussy’. A lot of them have been actual questions, such as’ Was Reeva Steenkamp a slut?’ and ‘Reeva Steemkamp was a whore, right?’.
So where have they got this idea that Reeva is a ‘slut’ from? The media.
The Sun and many other publications have objectified her, and refused to name her. Not even the well-respected BBC can manage to say her name. She has become nameless, and so there isn’t much public sympathy for her. She is first and foremost ‘Pistorius’s lover’. She is something that he has lost, and so in some perverse way people feel sorry for him, even though he is the reason she is dead. I was frankly appalled when a BBC correspondent added to the sympathy yesterday by saying ”Perhaps he’s being punished enough by losing the woman he told friends he thought might become his wife.” Reeva is the person who deserves our sympathy. A man took her life. The media took her name and identity. She has been silenced.
And this isn’t just one isolated incident either, this is a daily problem. Women are objectified beyond belief in the media. All you need to do is go to your local news agents and see magazines with half-naked women everywhere, and endless sexist columns about looking good for men. They are portrayed as just a sum of body parts for men to drool over, wank over, and have sex with. They become worthless, and thus become dispensable. Call women what you want, the media does it. Treat women as objects, the media actively encourages this.
When a woman is killed, raped, assaulted or any other gender based crime, the media destroys her reputation. They proclaim that she was asking for it, she was a slut, she drove him over the edge, she cheated on him, she spent all his money, she had an abortion, she was selfish, she was drunk, she wore revealing clothes, she was a ‘psycho’. And so on.
Our patriarchal society loves victim-blaming and the media has taken note of this. The media have since then, perpetuated victim-blaming to disgusting levels and with horrendous consequences. For example, the never-ending desire to report in the news, the tiny percentage of women who have falsely accused a man of rape. This results in the public assuming women are lying when they say they have been raped. The consequence? Women are too afraid to come forward incase they are accused of lying. The jury and judge are most probably biased due to the exposure to media victim-blaming too. 95,000 rapes happen a year in the UK and only 1,070 end in conviction. Do you see my point?
So this is why I implore you to not only sign my petition, but to also become aware of what the media is doing to women day in and day out. You need to fight this, in whatever way you can. The media rob women of their voice, their identities and their names, every single day and we stand by and do nothing. Enough.
We can’t give Reeva her life back, but we can give her back her name.
Her name was Reeva Steenkamp.