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Instagram Genius Highlights Australian News' Gender Bias And Surprise, Surprise: It’s A Total Sausage Fest

Want to see what news looks like without the stories about men? Check this out, or maybe just look at a blank piece of paper.

First came @lineupswithoutmales, an Instagram account that displays festival lineups, minus the men. What is left is probably not worth a $385 ticket. Rather, a strongly worded email questioning why line-ups favour acts made up of straight, white males.

It turns out the Australian media landscape isn’t any better. In a nod to Lines Ups Without Males, @frontpageswithoutmales highlights the grossly imbalanced representation of women in Australian newspapers.

As The Guardian reported in 2012,  “male bylines and sexist stereotypes” dominate Britain’s newspapers. Six years later, the situation is just as bad… and Australia also has a lot to answer for.

The Age, 24/04/2018. Blokes, all blokes.

The account carries no mercy, holding outlets such as The Guardian, The Age and the ABC to account.

Each post contains a carousel of three images, ordered as follows:

All stories are removed, leaving only those specifically referencing women.
The second image includes stories not specifically or exclusively about men (i.e. those referring to natural disasters, the environment etc).
The original unedited page, as it appears on the news site.

The discrepancies are startling.

A 2016 report surveyed 6,000 articles from six Australian newspapers. 21 percent of all sources were issued by women, while women writers accounted for only 17 percent of articles published. Likewise, the Global Media Monitoring project measured female representation at 24 percent – across the global media landscape.

Head further down the rabbit hole of female representation and you’ll find headlines dotted with sexist stereotypes, female vulnerability and often humiliating photographs.

A quick browse of this mornings press showed the majority of stories pertaining to Meghan Markle and the royal engagement.  Scroll down to the lifestyle tab and we see a stream of female fronted stories on body image, fashion, beauty, celebrities, parenting, recipes…

Will Meghan Markle’s Feminism Survive The Crushing Fate Of Her In Laws?

On Saturday, May 19, feminism will officially enter the House of Windsor. The question is how long, if at all, will it survive?

Meghan Markle is an incredibly powerful woman. Before her engagement to Prince Harry, she’d amassed a fortune of $5 million and established herself on the global stage as an actor and activist. She’s never shied away from fighting the good fight for ethnic minorities and even stood as a UN ambassador on women’s rights.

This is a woman who, at the age of 11, successfully rallied a campaign to change the sexist language of a national television ad. She wrote a strongly worded letter to the advertisers and, three months later, saw a reference to “women all over the world fighting with greasy pots and pans” changed to the more inclusive “people”.

So there’s something a bit icky about a fiercely outspoken, mixed race feminist marrying into one of the world’s most outdated, patriarchal institutions. She’s already announced her retirement from acting and deleted all of her social media accounts, as per royal protocol.

She has vehemently stated her intention to continue her activism following her marriage. There exists, however, the very real possibility her personal brand of activism will turn into the approved, PG version, deemed appropriate by the Windsor’s PR machine.

Is she sacrificing her voice and career for a world of glamorous frocks and official public engagements? Or will she shout from the podium and use her platform as an opportunity to further her activism?

Australian feminist and public intellectual, Germaine Greer, has already given her two cents. She’s called to question the religious ceremony by which the two will be wed (Meghan was baptised into the Church of England following her engagement) and voiced her belief that Markle will run as soon as she gets the chance.

Greer’s comments are outrightly critical of the institution, rather than of Meghan (although granted, they reek of jealousy). “If I say I think she’ll bolt, I’m actually probably saying I hope she’ll bolt before her possibility of a life is completely eradicated by the dreariness of the firm”.

During her first official public engagement with Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, she spoke positively on the Time’s Up and #MeToo campaigns. When discussing plans for her continued activism, Harry gave his fiance a gentle reminder that they have a wedding to plan. How telling.

That said, the younger royals have made progress in bringing causes, previously overlooked by the Royal Family, into the limelight. In 2017, Harry opened up about his struggles with mental health, breaking the royal silence on life behind the Stiff-Upper-Lip. After 20 years of “shutting down all emotion”, he sought help following the death of his mother, Princess Diana.

With the pressure off Prince Harry to succeed the throne, the pressure is off Meghan to produce heirs. While Kate stands for tradition and continuity, Meghan has an opportunity to establish herself as representative of progression and change. Many believe their marriage will bring the Royal Family back into a sphere of relevance.

The issue stands though, can Meghan’s feminism survive the crushing traditions of her in-laws, or will they seek to quash her personality, style and voice, just as they did with Diana?

Let’s hope she doesn’t fall from the glass ceiling to a pair of glass slippers.

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