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Music journalist wins gold

Music journalist wins gold

A story about ‘rape culture’ and popular music has won this year’s gold EVA award (Elimination of Violence against Women Media Awards) for excellence in reporting of violence against women in print, television, radio and online media. Music journalist Clem Bastow won the award for an opinion piece on Brian McFadden’s song   'Just The Way You Are (Drunk at the Bar)’ published in Inpress magazine. The awards were presented at an upbeat event held at the Arts Centre on 28 July. The judges described Bastow’s piece as “a controversial music review that reaches in and rips the heart out of the social myths and behaviours that tolerate, excuse, minimise and romanticise violence against women.” Clem Bastow discusses Brian McFadden’s song in terms of its promotion of ‘rape culture’.  She describes  it as “a culture – of commentary, arts, music, popular thought – that normalises, excuses, trivialises and in some instances condones sexual violence, and it shuts down those who try to criticise it with cries of ‘political correctness gone mad’.” Commenting on McFadden’s song, Bastow despairs that, “ Right now, I can’t think of a better example of rape culture than a song with a chorus that runs, "I like you just the way you are, drunk as shit, dancing at the bar/I like it and I can’t wait to take you home so I can do some damage/I like you just the way you are, drunk as shit dancing at the bar, I can’t wait to take you home so I can take advantage.”  The judges praised Bastow for tackling “multiple facets within the issue of sexual assault, in particular the disregard for consent, the attitude that rape is trivial or funny, and that men don’t really mean it. … She crushes the tacit belief that these kinds of recordings are somehow ok, and brings into question all those involved in the production of music like this.” Keynote speaker at this year’s EVAs presentation was Elizabeth Broderick, Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner. She talked about the strong resistance in our community to acknowledging a culture of violence against women, about the importance of women telling their stories, and the role that the media can play. “Media has the power to make change happen and to encourage others to do the same”. Presenting this year’s award, The Hon Mary Wooldridge, Minister for Women’s Affairs, made a commitment that the State Government will continue to fund the EVAs. This was the third year that the EVAs have been awarded.  I have had the privilege of chairing the judging panel in 2008, 2011, and again in 2012. Each year the number and quality of entries has increased and journalists have commented that the existence of the EVAs has made it easier to get stories on violence against women published. I believe the  EVAs have had an impact on the quality of reporting of violence against women.  There is less victim blaming, more use of statistics and research, an increase in sources of information, and more opportunity for victims to tell their stories. It now more common for journalists to provide referral information at the end of stories. A highlight for DVRCV in this year’s awards was our researcher Dr Debbie Kirkwood being nominated as a finalist. Debbie was nominated for her opinion piece Men’s Murderous revenge in which she discusses men killing their children to punish their ex- partners. The piece was published in the Age in March 2011. The EVAs is a joint project of Domestic Violence Victoria (the peak body for women’s domestic  violence services), No To Violence (the Victorian peak for male family violence prevention) and CASA Forum (the Victorian peak for Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault).

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Image credit

Photo of Clem Bastow sourced from Sydney Opera House blog