I Hate How Buzzfeed Covers Rape Stories
I’m a fan of Buzzfeed. I like their cute little quizzes and their funny little “What Jem Character Are You?” posts as much as the next person with an internet connection, but I do find the way they cover stories about rape and sexual violence a little disturbing. It goes something like this.
BUZZFEED HAS AN ALARMING HEADLINE ABOUT A RAPE
It is usually accompanied by a giant image regarding the story, of either the victim or the rapists.
If it weren’t for the headline, you would assume this is just another Buzzfeed post about What Type Of Roommate Are You? or some shit.
Then the post has another gigantic image with a truly horrific detail about the rape case:
According to local law enforcement, the three high school athletes sexually assaulted the female victim with a “foreign object” while she was intoxicated at post-prom party at a cabin in the woods.
This is usually followed by some Twitter responses to whatever rape case it is:
This is usually followed by some more quotes about rape from other sources and another giant image:
Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan has lauded the response from the community, contrasting it to a similar case involving student athletes in Steubenville, OH. two years ago.
But there are heartening aspects to this awful case. For starters, unlike other recent high-profile cases of male athletes allegedly raping women who lack the football status of their abusers — Steubenville, Ohio and Florida State University, for example — authorities appeared to take the charges seriously from the day after the crime and actually seem to have made an effort to conduct a thorough investigation.
I don’t need articles about rape or VAW meme-ified or dumbed down with giant images told with panels like I’m reading a post about pop culture or what 1980’s band I am or what celebrity is making funny faces. I don’t expect Buzzfeed to cover these stories with any degree of journalistic integrity or with thoughtful commentary, but considering these stories are posted all over Facebook pages and other social media sites constantly, most of us are bound to see them. Rape is a serious topic. It should’t be handled the same way as amusing cat videos or photos of hot models. But considering the popularity of Buzzfeed and how a lot of people get their news from them, it feels like the seriousness of rape, and other crimes, are simply packaged into this super user-friendly, easy-to-digest shareable and click-baity content which can easily be replaced the next time they post something about what the new Taco bell menu item looks like. Here is an example of how they cover rape stories. And here. And a funny little quiz here. I write a lot about rape. Thousands of other websites cover stories about rape. Do we really need to read about it and share content about it the same way we do boy bands?