Like the freaking Titanic.
The Weekend Herald, whose bones I pick the most because it is a Saturday tradition of mine, has an article in the World section: Grimness in the details of life in North Korea. Pictures by AP and written by David McNeil from the Independent.
The article itself points to “soldiers [who look] shrunken in their oversized hats” and concludes that the “country’s best-fed men seem to be the two who dominate”. These are the only gendered reference in the article about the people in North Korea.
I do not even bat an eye at these things normally. Gendered pronouns are a battlefield, and I am a veteran. There was a study (citation forthcoming) that showed that when people read male pronouns, even if they mean it as a universal one, they imagine male people with their mind’s eye.
Perhaps the soldiers were the most poignant to the said journo, which I understand. They are the arms of the state, especially for states like North Korea. But the conclusion about “men” was annoying.
What made it so conspicuous for me were the photographs. Whilst the article did not mention women and children, the pictures did. In fact, it was only women and children in the pictures. It was a mixture of a cool, rational appeal mano-a-mano in words, with emotive appeal to “save the women and children” in pictures.
Men are the subjects, women are objects.
So what I want to know now is: who chooses these pictures? I imagine some poor person in deep dungeons under the Herald building choosing pictures from a massive AP database. Or the dungeons of the Independent building. Whatever.
And they want to help. Why else go into journalism? These are honourable people, who want to change the world. They choose pictures that will appeal to us. They imagine that when we see the pictures of women and children, we will rise up in our rage and demand change. And we do.
Poverty and war affects women and children differently to how they affect men. They suffer the consequences of actions initiated and perpetuated by men.
But we know better. A solution will never be good enough if it is only thought of by men. Women are not just the problem, we are part of the solution. And we are powerful.