Women in News Stories Predominantly Defined by Their Role as Mother If They Are One

This is so annoying.

Almost any time a woman is murdered, or is in the news for some other event or situation, and if she is a mother, her motherhood is almost always mentioned, and quite prominently, not in passing.

Here’s a recent example, a headline tweeted by The Inquisitr stating that a “Mother of four” was killed in a road rage incident (condolences to her family):

Their tweet links to this page on their site:

  • “California Mother of Four Gunned Down in Road Rage”

Their page in turn links to this page, with this headline:

And this tweet from Fox news reads in a similar fashion:

Why do journalists and news papers find it relevant to report that a woman killed was a mother, and they almost always lead with that information, or it’s one of the first things mentioned in the first paragraph.

A woman’s identity is more than if she is a mother or not, or whether she is married or not.

Seldom do I see news headings mentioning if a man is married with a child (unless the scope of the story pertains to pedophilia, and if the man in question was molesting his own biological or step children).

Rarely do I see news headings such as,

  • “Father of Three Robbed at Gas Station,”
  • “Father of One Dies of Heart Attack,”
  • “Father of Five Dies of Gun Shot Wound in Botched Bank Robbery.”

You get the idea.

As a matter of fact, unless the story pertains primarily to pedophilia, most news articles that do report on a married father usually bury the fact that the guy is married with a kid way far down in the piece. You have to hunt around and read closely to determine if the guy has a wife and kid.

Look at the links I have about bad parents and bad husbands (like here) – any time I skim those articles to find out if the guy is married with a kid, so that I can add those stories to my blog if they fit that category, I usually don’t find the information that the guy is married with a kid until way, way down in the article.

The fact that the man in the story has a wife or kid is only mentioned quite briefly, and in passing.

I have to slow down and read carefully while reading some of these articles – in some cases, there is only a brief mention of the guy’s marital or parenthood status, such as, “And the man’s wife, Mary Jo, said she didn’t know her husband was a drug addict….”

I don’t recall ever seeing a heading reading thusly:

  • “Never married, childless woman victim of mugging on Elm Street”

Not that I would want to see that trend, either, remarking on a woman being childless or single; I would find it just as obnoxious to mention a woman’s childless or child free status prominently in a news heading, as it is still a case of a woman being identified by childed status, as though a woman cannot simply be just herself, just a person with her own identity.

I wish reporters would stop defining women in their reporting as “Mothers of X Number of Kids was Killed Today When Blah Blah Blah.”

How about simply, “A Woman Was Killed Today When Blah Blah Blah,” and if you absolutely must, only mention towards the end that “Shirley Smith is survived by two sons and one daughter.”


Related posts:

(Link):  The Rise of the Lone She-Wolf by Charlotte Alter

(Link):  Sexism, Protecting Women, Family Values, and Christians Placing Biological Family Above Everyone Else

One thought on “Women in News Stories Predominantly Defined by Their Role as Mother If They Are One”

  1. As more women become single by choice, I’m sure the headlines need to change to ” Woman owner of 4 cats shot dead in the head buying pet food” who knows maybe people will actually take us seriously then..

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