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To the New York Times, rape = “liking women”

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April 15th, 2007

By Guest Blogger Gale Petersen
I skimmed the large headline in the Sunday New York Times Style section, “The Designer Who Liked Models” by Sharon Waxman. “Great,” I thought for one millisecond, “a guy who enjoys himself and respects the models who work for him.” But, wait — the subhead mentioned rape charges. Four sentences into the article I read:

“The dark-eyed, 33-year-old fashion designer has been released on $1.3 million bail after having been charged last month by the district attorney’s office in Los Angeles County with 32 counts of rape, sexual battery, lewd acts on a child and other ugly crimes, against a dozen women — all models — aged 14 to 23.

“It’s the pattern of a sexual predator,” said Jane Robison, the spokeswoman for the district attorney. “It’s a serious, serious case.”

I read the headline again, disconcerted to think it described Anand Jon, a wealthy designer, as “liking women,” then finding the piece describing a predatory man who apparently preys upon young women and abuses them. Even if he is found not-guilty of all of the charges filed against him, the article depicts a person who cannot possibly be considered a man who has a healthy respect and high regard for women, a man who “liked models”:

““This was a revolving door,” Ms. Robison said. “The m.o. is similar. He allegedly met them over the Internet, promised to pay for a trip out here or sent them a plane ticket. And once they got out here, he used his position in the fashion industry to take advantage of them. And he allegedly told them if they said they were not comfortable: ‘Get used to it. This is what happens in the industry.’ ”

That the article ran in the Style section strongly suggests that the rape and battery of women and girls is regarded as a frivolous matter by the Times, only worthy to be published in a section alongside pages of wedding and celebration announcements, articles on tequila, puff pieces about useless gadgets, and photos of the Easter Parade.

If the victims were not female models, if they were men, would the article be shunted to the Style section? And, would a headline on a story about charges of violent abuse of men imply that those men were the subject of an alleged criminal’s affection?

Gale Petersen is a writer, designer, and web developer in Madison, Wisconsin

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