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Tabloids go berserk over Sun editor's assault on soap star

Jim Jepps

They are meant to be 'real men,' the rough tough Mitchell brothers, but when actors Steve McFadden and Ross Kemp found themselves victims of domestic abuse on the same night (in both cases the police arrived and carted away their partners) the on-screen brothers found themselves subject to public ridicule as well as domestic violence.

It's not simply that these are two high profile, high earning soap stars but Ross Kemp's partner is Rebekah Wade, editor of the Sun, a paper that has recently run a campaign opposing, you guessed it, domestic violence.

The Mirror's hilarious take on domestic violenceThe Mirror's front page, for example, about the 'hilarious' domestic assaults on two soap stars is extremely misjudged. They say time and again on numerous pages (and a cartoon) that the attacks made "a mockery of their macho screen image" because they were beaten up by women.

What are they saying these actors should have done? Beaten their partners to a pulp to prove what men they are? What do 'real men' do when they are attacked? Certainly not sit there and take it. The tabloids are clearly not advocating any kind of talking solution, where adults sort out their problems by means other than fists and bile.

Not only are they publicly ridiculing the victims of domestic abuse, which in itself is bad enough, but they seem to be advocating giving 'their birds' back some of their 'own medicine'.

Ms Wade might be the editor of the Sun and therefore beyond redemption but trivialising domestic violence, whether done to a man or a woman simply is not on. The tone they've adopted attacking Mr Kemp and McFadden is precisely why many male victims of domestic abuse never reveal the terrible things that have happened to them - because no one takes it seriously when a man is a attacked by his partner.

Perhaps instead we could use this incident to highlight how vile domestic abuse is and try to put a stop to it once and for all.


November 2005

Zoe Williams in the Guardian

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