For the past 29 years, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women has released an annual Femicide Report, which publicizes domestic violence and homicide in the state. This year, the report included information about the 24 Minnesotans who died as a result of domestic violence in 2017. The report recommended increased research into gun data, economic empowerment programs, and limited-English proficiency plans for authorities, among other ideas for improvement.
Normally, the MCBW draws attention to the victims of this abuse in a press conference to coincide with the report, but right now, that’s kind of tricky. You see, there’s a pretty big event also happening in Minneapolis this week—the Super Bowl. It’s the first NFL championship game in Minnesota since 1992, and it’s taking up pretty much all of the local resources, including, apparently, the city’s journalists.
In a Facebook post, MCBW coalition program manager Becky Smith said that no press came to the MCBW Femicide Report press conference on Tuesday because of the Super Bowl. In the post, Smith detailed how she felt “disappointed, heartbroken and angry” about the snub from the media:
The release of the report and accompanying press coverage is often our last chance to shine a light on the lives of victims whose deaths never made headlines, or if they did, to provide some kind of pathway to action in their memory. This year, the press decided that the NFL - a non-profit that has continuously avoided accountability for holding its employees accountable for domestic and sexual violence - deserved more time in the hearts and minds of Minnesotans rather than the stories of 24 family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors whose lives were violently cut short due to intimate partner violence. The Super Bowl will be gone in a week, but we’ll still need to face gender-based violence in our community and develop better solutions - towards healing and accountability - as a community.
In an email to Jezebel, Smith said that the Pioneer Press did, in fact, send an intern to the press conference. However, other outlets that had covered the Femicide Report in the past, including MPR and the Star Tribune, were absent.
“The difference was stark this year,” Smith wrote. “The journalists we specifically contacted to attend were on assignment for the Super Bowl.”
Obviously, one can like and pay attention to football while still also caring about and working against domestic violence. But the Super Bowl is such a dominant cultural force that it practically monopolizes all media attention for the week, particularly in the host city and in the cities of the two competing teams. More people will read a banal story about a Tom Brady press conference than one including depressing facts about dead and abused women, so, if a short-staffed media outlet has to choose which one to cover, the answer isn’t that surprising.
As Smith mentions, the NFL specifically has a well-documented problem with domestic violence, so it’s especially annoying to see their completely depoliticized spectacle suck up attention away from this issue. Disheartening, too, is how this situation echoes a continued inability for the media to shine light on issues affecting women of color, for whom domestic violence data is still scarce. The MCBW was unable to secure reliable race data specifically in regards to Native women, Smith wrote in her email. However, in 2015, they found that 60 percent of the year’s domestic violence homicide victims were women of color, and five of the 22 victims were Native American women.
“The lack of data [on missing and murdered Indigenous women] amounts to statistical genocide,” said Patina Park, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, at the press conference.
As Smith also notes, all the football hoopla will be over by next week. And unfortunately, the same can’t be said for violence against women.
Wrote Smith, “I echo what newly appointed Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo said at the press conference: ‘After Sunday, the Super Bowl will be gone. But these issues, and this work, will still be here.’”