Today two police officers in the Greater Manchester area were shot and killed; a shocking and hideous crime.
The officers were lured to an address by someone reporting a burglary. They were unarmed.
And they were women.
I was horrified when I heard about the crime and then disappointed by the way it was reported.
The emotional statement by Greater Manchester police talked about the police officers, their contribution to policing and to society. It didn't mention their gender specifically. Almost all media I encountered online and on the radio and TV reported the news story as variations on "Female Police Officers shot."
Had the victims been nurses I doubt their gender would have been mentioned.
Had the victims been men, and nurses, I'm pretty sure the gender of the victims would have been mentioned.
Had the victims been men and police officers I'm pretty sure the audience would be left to assume the victims were men.
I want to be clear here. The killing of police officers, regardless of gender, is abhorrent. But, I don't like the inherant sexism that assumes gender roles for particular professions. The officers' employer didn't refer overtly to their gender in their press statement and I struggle to see why the mass of media coverage for this story feels that one of the most important parts of this news is the gender of the victims.
I even started to wonder whether there was more coverage because the victims were women. Should I be more shocked and outraged because women have been shot? Should I have been less shocked and outraged if the victims had been men?
When a male soldier dies in Afghanistan, he is just a soldier. When a female soldier dies in Afghanistan, she is a female soldier.
When a male police officer loses his life, he is just a police officer. When a female police officer loses her life, she is a female police officer.
If you would like to submit a message for a book of condolence for PC Fiona Bone and PC Nicola Hughes then click here.
If you would like to submit a message about everyday sexism, then click here. (Thanks Vic.)