Headlines gone mad: how coverage of ANU's Eagle Rock controversy fed the outrage industry
Essentially, some women were sexually harassed at an event at the Australian National University while dancing to Daddy Cool's song Eagle Rock. Subsequently, the residential college at the university issued a statement saying that the song would no longer be played at official events.
The Fairfax media turned this into a scare headline, saying that the ANU had banned the song, citing it as a case of "political correctness gone mad".
Upon writing the articles, I was well aware that simply banning a song would do nothing to address the undercurrents of sexism and misogyny that oppress women in university colleges. My intention was not to have the song banned but instead to draw attention to the normalisation of pervasive sexist culture in universities; a culture that often robs women of their capacity to give consent. My other motive was simply to ensure that no other female would have the same experience as me.
However, when Fairfax publicised these events in their own articles, they did so using the sensationalist headline “ANU college bans song to stop male students dropping their pants”. Instantly, the experiences of myself, along with so many other women who have experienced sexual harassment at ANU, had been trivialised, reduced to no more than another example of the so-called nanny state and “political correctness gone mad”. This led to a bombardment of ridicule on social media, as well as by public figures, with both Miranda Devine and Mark Latham claiming that banning the song made ANU “like the Taliban”.
Sadly, using such misleading and incendiary headlines to create political correctness controversies is all too common in mainstream media.
Now, my question is this:
Is it really
the political left that is manufacturing outrage?