Critique of the Journal Mobs and Monsters Independent Man Meets Paulsgrove Woman

Critique of the Journal: Mobs and Monsters Independent Man Meets Paulsgrove Woman






Steph Lawler, in his article “Mobs and monsters independent man meets Paulsgrove woman” writes about the media presentation of riots in Paulsgrove, which he describes as the middle class horror of the mob (Lawler 2002, pp. 103-104). He believes that the way the coverage was done was not appropriate because it constituted working class women and the way a specific group of crowd may be used in legalizing certain forms of protest (Angrist 2013, 547-553). Moreover, he argues about the utilization of class and gender in communicating the heart of mob’s concern. Lawler feels that politics of protest can sometimes be rendered both mad and pathological when looking at the way characteristics of the protesters have been put in place. He says that the nature of invocation evident in the protest and the characteristic of the protestors circulate around cultural perception of class and gender.

Lawler traces the origin of mass behavior to the 19th century French writer, Gustave le Bon who gave several characteristics of the crowd that seem to continue even in the current century. In the article, Lawler addresses the fact that strong psychological element plays a critical role amongst protestors (Angrist 2013, 547-553). Lawler thinks that women of Paulsgrove would have succeeded in their quest without making their action appear as those ones for mob. He argues that media representation pathologized women in many ways including constituting them as mob and that they were likely to be involved in the mob (Eltahawy 2012, 64-70). Lawler thinks that media coverage of the event saw women rendered as suspects, “pathologized” in many ways including lack of rationality, displaying the wrong amount and kind of femininity and further portrayed as bad mothers (Nnadi 2012, pp. 48-56).

According to Lawler (2002), lack of rationality was evident in the media as the protest was portrayed in terms of mob rule, confusion and wrongful that showed a depressing litany (103-105). Unfortunately, such kind of perception came from highly respected media houses such as the Guardian, which is deemed tolerant and is believed to offer justice and equality (Hansen-Miller 2011, pp. 88). He highlights the fact that Katrina Kessell who was amongst the organizers of the protest is regarded as wrong-headed and self-deluding yet they were fighting for justice. However, he admits that editors or journalists can condemn what triggered the Paulsgrove protesters.

There is a notion that is nevertheless incorporated by the media that sexual abuse mostly takes place in families and other child abusers who are not exposed for some unknown reasons (Hall 2011, 36-45). It is as if the women protesting did not understand what they were protesting for and that their cause for action was prompted by their ignorance concerning what constitutes child abuse (Eltahawy 2012, 64-70). It was interesting to note that there was no form of sympathy extended to the protesting women. In other child abuse cases, the media has always defended the protestors and sympathized with them believing that protests are justified. It was construed by the media coverage that women who protested the Paulsgrove lacked proper reasoning because mob is linked with lack of reasoning (Lawler 2002, pp. 103-110).

Lawler (2002) asserts that the media instituted a belief amongst their audience that protestors were just hounding out innocent victims as if pedophiles were paranoid fantasy (103-105). Using violence as the women portrayed inadequate application and understanding of rationality, slippage from social cohesion and shared norms. Violence is an indicative of power or forceful expression but application of violence by protestors could not exhaust the theoretical possibilities of application of violence (Malyadri 2013, pp. 97-108). Violence may only be opted for if different measures are taken into consideration but it may not sound well amongst the middle class women who are thought to have gone to school.

Lawler also provides much evidence about the negative perception of working class women such as ignorance, insensitive mothers, and exotic and cannot claim femininity Lawler 2002, pp. 103-107). It is apparent that the only important part women in the middle class can play is that of pathology. Media coverage makes people believe that women of Paulsgrove’s act was not planned or constituted with rationality and therefore their true motives were not reflected in what they did. Lawler has generally pointed out at some protests he feels are legitimate and the elements that may make protest successful in his own opinion.

At one point, the media portrayal of Paulsgrove protest was right considering that the women were of middle class. Actually, this showed the importance of child abuse and the fact that it does not only affect the low income but also the middle class families. The Paulsgrove protest was a sign of frustration by what could have perhaps been prevented by the society (Lawler 2002, pp. 108-113). Although most people immensely care about ethics and intellect, they fall susceptible to many traps regardless of their smartness and thoroughness while carrying out their activities. Ethics and leadership gurus argue that people with strong morals and ethical sense can always fail in doing the right thing and completely follow the wrong path. Initially, there are always primary traps that would prompt women to make decisions that are not consistent with their ethical range due to the feeling that there are minimal options to do the right thing.

Understanding the generality of gender and sexuality is not that easy because it comprises of diversity of human experiences and inclusion of multiple critical perspectives occurring in the society. Convincing a society to come to terms to what they are not used to or what they deem unacceptable is not an easy task. For instance, saying that women have equal rights as men and that they have similar capabilities is not realistic. There have been worldwide campaigns trying to empower women and fighting for their rights through social justice but still there are a lot to be done before the issue is completely ironed out. Most people still think that men are the dominating gender and actors in the society regardless of their academic qualifications.

Unfortunately, the inequality campaigns are addressed in women’s perspective instead of general perspective which implies that men are threat to women success. The campaigns strategically use practical and strategic gender issues to empower women and accelerate their success in the society. There should be visibility of women as change agents through improving their status but issues regarding inequality still rise worldwide (Rollins 2012,pp. 71-73). It is therefore obvious that the society is not ready to change and adopt new ideas especially regarding gender.

Significance of gender in different cultures and its regulation of social behavior are very important as far as fighting for a specific right is concerned. Culture generally has created an active man compared to woman by even assigning specific roles to men and others to women. Man takes control of almost every role in the society while women are just seen as a subordinate. According to Rollins (2012) sexuality and gender has been greatly influenced by our cultural and societal norms (71-73). Women are believed to be weaker sex that can only take care of children, look after their homes, and serve their husbands. This is the general perspective of the public about the women role in the society even today thus limiting them from attaining significant role such as leading a protest. Middle class women who are believed to have come out of the traditional discrimination and cultural definition are however not representing feminism, as it should be (Shaikh 2012, pp. 216-225).

By briefly looking at feminism, it is clear that the media hugely contributed to their success and failure and therefore this text does not provide new information regarding media portrayal of protests against immoral behaviors in the society (Danver 2011, 498-499). Feminisms attempts to recognize women as human beings despite the fact that they may approach things and are created differently when physically viewed. It further empowers women to participate in various things equally without any discrimination through recognition of the integral relationship of gender. Danver (2011) explains that there is a belief that gender intersects with other social hierarchies and in order to achieve equality you must engage in social movements (498-499). Commencement of feminism movement indicated the seriousness of the gender issues and the impact it ad on their victims. The movement has contributed to a number of failure and success though much success has been experienced throughout. According to Danver (2011), issues regarding feminism are evident everywhere across the world (498-499). One can experience either the success or failure of the movements in the daily life practices. The waves have grown and developed in a very positive way despite many challenges and the media has really exposed the activities.

Cultural ideological limitations have been virtually inadequate not only on moral and ethical issues but also on intellectual issues (Danver 2011, 498-499). Illiterate domination in protests has just been immense with the view that they are inferior intellectually. There has been a general public misconception that middle class who are educated people cannot lead a violent protest, as was the case in the text. It is interesting to point out that even some women also believe this myth thus making them not to succeed. The demand that the society put on women such as the fact the role of using non-violent means does not seem to add up (Rollins 2012, pp. 71-73). Although institutions deny women chance of succeeding, they can still overcome the demoralizing consciousness and achieve what they want. It is still possible for women to succeed through protests just like their male counterparts because success in protests is more than just human intellect.

Whereas the author has presented an almost encompassing argument regarding different aspects of mass behavior, some aspects have remained unexplored. Women of Paulsgrove protest has significantly been used to develop the author’s idea of mass behavior especially in women. However, the human history is full historic cases of women protests, which the author could have cited as well (Nnadi 2012, pp. 48-56). For instance, the author has highlighted the issue of “wrong kind of mothers” without explicitly explaining that motherhood has different meanings in different societies. For instance, women in Balham could have been treated in a special case by the society since the role of mothers in that region may have been different compared to role of women in Paulsgrove. This was seen where Paulsgrove’s mother hood was put into test by the media when the three year old child was found after missing for almost one hour. The media painted the protesters as irresponsible as an extension of the historic treatment of women in that area (Shepard 2010, pp. 223-225). Likewise, protesters in Balham were treated well by the media, perhaps, as an extension of societal treatment of women in that area.

Another key aspect missing in the author’s argument is the fact that modern society is continually evolving. He coins the term “lack of rationality” without expounding on how the society sees rationality in the midst of increasing evolution (Lawler 2002, pp. 105-107). For instance, what seemed irrational today was perhaps irrational 40 years ago when women were mainly house helps. Although the two contrasting examples given by the author happened at relatively the same time, it can be argued that there was a possibility that the two communities were at different stages of societal evolution and hence the difference in treatment of the two protests (Nnadi 2012, pp. 48-56). This is more important considering the social status of the Balham protesters in relation to Paulsgrove protesters. It is important to acknowledge the explorative nature of the author when he used the term “wrong kind of femininity” to discuss the issue. Considering the fluid nature of the term “femininity,” the writer did a good job explaining how the different types of femininity aspects could have played a role in both the Paulsgrove protesters and Balham protesters.

Few incidences of child abuse are reported simply because the society has not taken serious concern about the issue. Most victims do not file complaints because it cannot be addressed in order to achieve justice amongst the victims. Mishandling of gender and child abuse cases discourage the victims from filing complaints because there is loss of trust in the institutions put in place to offer justice (Hall 2011, pp. 51-59). Generally, perception of how the cases are handled by the media and various institutions and the outcome of the cases play an integral role in lowering the number of child abuse. Future response to gender issues and child abuse may take a wrong turn in future because of experiences. Women may turn out more violent than expected because they are fed up with the situation at hand. It is clear that decision to take women, children, and discrimination issues to the streets does not need intellect evaluation or a better way of protest.


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