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Gender and Communication Policy: Struggling for Space

Margaret Gallagher

Introduction

In late 2009, a heated debate erupted in the pages of the Spanish national daily El País. The controversy centered on an article in the paper’s Opinion section by writer and university professor Enrique Lynch. The article, “Revanchismo de género” (“Gender revenge”), took as its starting point an Iberoamerican campaign to promote “zero tolerance” toward violence against women. Critiquing the campaign and its accompanying slogan, Lynch denounced what he perceived as the Spanish government’s “implicitly feminist” equality policy. By favoring women over men, he argued, this approach contributed to gender violence. In fact, he claimed, women themselves bear responsibility for male violence. First, ignorant and brutal men are raised by women – their mothers. Second, in popular music, women assert their “rights” by taunting and discarding men mercilessly. Citing music videos by three female artists, Lynch concluded his article with the prediction that three new videos like these would result in a threefold increase in the monthly murder rate of women.

Following publication of Lynch’s article, El País received several hundred phone calls and letters of complaint. At issue was the question of whether the article – regarded by many as a justification of gender violence and thus a potential incitement to further violence against women – should have been published. By giving space to Lynch’s views, had ...

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