A Guardian writer recently described one of the subjects of a documentary about teenagers and the internet as a girl who "let herself be gang raped" to get her Blackberry back. When readers freaked out, the paper changed the phrasing to "let herself be sexually assaulted." Seriously?
Here's the edited paragraph from the Guardian:
In one, a girl who does not reveal her identity, talks with heartbreaking candour about how she would do anything for her BlackBerry; when a gang of boys takes it from her she recounts how she allowed herself to be sexually assaulted in order to have it back.
And the accompanying note:
The standfirst to this article was amended on 12 September 2013. It originally referred to a girl who "let herself be gang-raped" to get her BlackBerry back. This misrepresented the text of the piece, which says she allowed herself to be sexually assaulted.
The paper was so stoked on this line that they included it right up top, in the subhed: "the girl who let herself be sexually assaulted to get her BlackBerry back."
I haven't seen the documentary, but here are two rewrites that don't blame the victim for being assaulted: "The girl who was sexually assaulted by a group of boys who wouldn't give her back her phone." Or perhaps "the group of rapists that demanded sex as collateral for a clunky phone." Ta-da!
Ironically, writer Tim Adams asked the filmmaker if she "sees an inbuilt gender imbalance in some of the tone of social media. Does the medium itself work to encourage misogyny, in her view?" He's not helping, either.