Why do the pretty suburban white girls get all the media's attention?

When someone goes missing or is abducted–especially if at such a young, tender age–it’s always heartwrenching to watch the family members and spouses pour out their emotions on national television, pleaing for their loved-ones safe return. Unfortunately some times the missing and/or abducted are never seen again. At least not alive, tragically.

We have the media to thank for all the superficial and obnoxious drama that’s added onto the already emotional rollercoaster suffered by the missing’s/abductee’s loved-ones. Though every story is tragic, apparently the media and even our culture believes when the people at the center of the drama are a certain race or ethnicity and sex, the tragedy is more significant and “news worthy”. Most of the victims we see in the news resemble the fabled, blonde-haired/blue-eyed damsel-in-distress, who was snatched away from her king and queen like parents, and their castle in the White Suburbia in the middle of the night. We rarely if ever hear of the young African-American girl or boy, or the Hispanic child(ren) who were kidnapped. Even if they too were abducted from a nice home in an upper-middle-class suburban area, still, they don’t create the sense of innocence and purity like young, upper-middle-class, attractive, white women. It’s as if we expect African-Americans, Latinos, and other races and ethnicities regardless of their socioeconomic status to always be the victims of violent crimes, so why pay attention or create mass hysteria and a circus within the media when someone from their communities are abducted and left for dead in a ditch some where? Sometimes even working/lower-class whites are ignored by the media when someone from their communities goes missing or is abducted, and murdered.

Boys and young men as well, especially if they’re from the inner-city and a racial or ethnic minority, the media rarely bothers with them, because after all they don’t have that “damsel-in-distress, feminine virginal purity” the media craves. And lest we forget, the illusion that women must remain pure and sheltered from possible harm–so when one of us goes missing or is abducted, we have been robbed of our “womanly purity.”

Sexism, racism, and classism all fit in quite nicely with the media’s perception as to whose the prettiest, richest, and most innocent-looking (white female) victim. Perhaps Echidne of the Snakes could delve a bit more into the psychosocial aspect of this issue…

[…]…Thus, to understand the prevalence of the young-white-woman-missing stories requires a dive into the deep layers of the American consumer’s mind.

The first thing we notice along this dive is that the victims portrayed are never black, are never older, and are almost always attractive. They correspond to the mythological ideas of a Desirable Woman in this society: pure, young and beautiful. Like the princesses that were captured by dragons in fairy tales, helplessly waiting for the valiant prince to come and set them free (or, rather, to marry them). Attractive young white women are not supposed to go missing, also, which makes these news stories interesting as rarities of a sort. In reality, many women go missing every day and many are murdered in terrible ways. But too many of these victims were black or older or otherwise not of interest in the myth-making sense.

As we dive deeper into the imaginary American consciousness we come across variations, and even these explain why the damsel-in-distress stories are so valuable for the media: They can be interpreted to reinforce almost any prejudice a person might hold. For example, for a conservative these stories are moral tales about what happens when women are given too much freedom, or proofs that the society is descending into a moral chaos, what with all those perverts being allowed to walk about, hunting for dainty young maidens. Never mind that the stories are rare; after the media has finished with them they appear to be commonplace occurrences.

For a progressive or a liberal these stories are a disgusting case of the media going haywire, chasing after cheap stunts and avoiding all serious debate. But even the liberal must read the story to find out how bad things truly are.

Then there are those who see these victims as getting their comeuppance, after years of being the Class Princess or whatever. And those who enjoy the thrill of fear and sympathy, as long as it’s all vicarious. And of course those who really worry about the victims, who are drawn into deep empathy through the personification of fear and suffering that the media does so well. And those who wish for another runaway-bride story as further evidence of the treacherousness of all women. And so on.

But the truth still remains: That these sorts of events are rare and that when they occur they are more likely to have victims who are not white. When the media doesn’t report this they are doing all of us a disservice, especially if they omit other news items which are crucial for us to learn.

My mother (whom I’m staying with for the summer) lives in an upper-middle-class suburban neighborhood that’s predominately African-American, but I doubt the media would be interested in hearing a story about a [hypothetical] young African-American female who was abducted if it were to happen here in my neighborhood. Hopefully it won’t. Still, there seems to be an underlying belief that crimes such as abductions and abuses are supposed to happen in communities of Color, but when it happens in White Suburbia and befalls a young, attractive white female….bring out the media squadron because guess which story is going to dominate the headlines for the next six months. It’s all about that pretty package, people.

This entry posted in Feminism, sexism, etc, Gender and the Economy, Popular (and unpopular) culture, Race, racism and related issues, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

63 Responses to Why do the pretty suburban white girls get all the media's attention?

  1. 1
    The Amazing Kim says:

    She wasn’t abducted, but the Schapelle Corby case is a perfect example of this. There was virtually no anti-Corby coverage in the local media during the trial, and a lot of racist comments were made about the Indonesianss and their legal system. Although she was tried and convicted, a majority of people still believe she is completely innocent of any crime. Which has nothing to do with the fact she’s young and pretty, and those nasty Indonesians (they’re “just out of the trees”) are all terrorists. Oh no.

  2. 2
    Robert says:

    I have a burgeoning news site (www.bloggernews.net). 80% of our traffic comes from people doing Google searches. 80% of those searchers are people looking for stories about kidnapped white girls.

    (Or missing white girls or white girls who’ve run off.)

    What does it mean? No idea. But it’s incontrovertibly there in my logs; 11000 visitors for Yet Another Girl Gone Missing, 110 visitors for Amp’s insightful piece on probate insurance and its effect on fiscal policy. We got more than 31,000 visitors yesterday – almost all of them people looking for news about Natalee Holloway.

  3. 3
    Schnee says:

    Before Natalee Holloway, the news was obseessed with those kids from Idaho. I think once tests came back that the mother and her boyfriend were doing illicit drugs and weren’t so squeaky clean, intense interest in telling their story waned. Not to mention Natalee Holloway disappeared, taking over the headlines. Unfortunately, those children are still missing.

  4. 4
    Jeff says:

    Boys and young men as well, especially if they’re from the inner-city and a racial or ethnic minority, the media rarely bothers with them, because after all they don’t have that “damsel-in-distress, feminine virginal purity”? the media craves.

    I think it’s also the cultural perception that males have more agency. So a missing boy is assumed to have voluntarily run away while a missing girl is assumed to have been kidnapped.

  5. 5
    ginmar says:

    What about how when a woman does something bad, it’s front page news, but when guys do it, it’s just ‘dog bites man’ and so forth? It’s another example of the Andrea Yates phenominon—at the same time she was being demonized in the press, three abusive men killed two women and sixteen children, and nothing happened. I’ve seen guys complain about this disappearance of their deeds, like it’s awful to never have it reflect on men in general. It’s the same thing as those TV commercials that depict guys as clueless. Sure, it’s insulting; it also gets them off the hook it hangs women on. They get to be freed from responsibility and they get to bitch about it. That’s some trick.

    Something about female offenders, too—-there’s always a hunt for other female offenders, so that it can look like A Growing National Problem. And then there’s the use of the word ‘distraught’ to describe a guy who’s just killed his wife and kids. He’s always distraught, instead of a wife-beating control freak.

    We value some crime victims, and we let some criminals evaporate.

  6. 6
    Angie says:

    I think you are asking the wrong group of people. Me, I’m concerned about ALL children that are abused and/or taken from their homes. The color of their skin makes no difference to me. Each case deserves the same attention. Each chid deserves the same chance to be found … alive and unharmed if possible.

  7. 7
    ginmar says:

    Well, that’s good. I’m totally serious. Now what do we do about going from here to there?

  8. 8
    HC says:

    Also: the flip side to reporting the “white, blue-eyed woman,” who has been kidnapped is the “dark, black-eyed man” who has done the abducting. Just this morning, two white girls were talking on a morning news show about how they were in the Dominican Republic and they were “felt up” on a bus ride, and how they are “lucky to be alive,” and “That could have been them.” And i thought, “Oh, please. Great way to demonize people of color again.”

    I felt like asking these girls if they’ve ever been “felt up” at a frat party, and if so, did they experience the same overwhelming feeling of relief when they made it home alive? They should have. A fair amount of women have been brutalized at (mostly white) frat houses in this country, no?


  9. 9
    ginmar says:

    Well, you have to wonder how many women are just being used as proxies for mens’ hostility to what they represent. I mean, considerign the degree to wihch women are objects to begin with, it must be effortless to make them into symbols of The Man or something. Didn’t Eldredge Cleaver specifically excuse his rapes with that?

    But, yeah, it has to be a white girl victim, and it has to be a bushy-haired stranger. And it’s got to happen in a dark alley, so all the guys whose buddies are committing date rapes and marital rapes can say without feeling any twinges at all that “They’d KILL a rapist, man! KIll him! Castrate him!” Meanwhile they all think Kobe’s innocent and refer to him by his first name.

  10. 10
    João Carlos says:

    I think it may interesting to have a non-American point of view on this issue. Here in Brazil, kidnapping has become a crime industry. What you say about the “WASP gril-next-door” getting media attention, here (a very more miscigenated country) apllies to “famous people relatives” (specially if it’s a famous soccer player). The main target of abducters is “well-to-do middleclass businesmen” (but the media won’t give them any coverage). In a sense, it’s understable: the more media fireworks, the less chance the victim is found alive.
    But this “rule” apllies only to kidnapping. The subtle disappearance of somebody is treated by local media the same way in U.S.

  11. 11
    jen says:

    I personally think it’s a little more complicated than just race.

    Americans aren’t interested in people who are endangered unless there’s absolutely no relationship between the victim’s fate and their prior decisions or behavior. Look at how we immediately disregard any story where the victim was a prostitute, or the victim was “involved in drugs”. I think especially of the recent case in Chicago, where I live, of an ex-con who killed his daughter and her friend. Initially all the media coverage was about a horrible abduction/murder of two white girls. But once the news was out about dad being an ex-con, and about how the kids were known to (for example) climb on the roof of their home because they got no parental supervision, it all dropped out of the media.

    What’s the difference? In the case of a stranger abduction it could also happen to “my” kids, but in the second “my” kids are not in danger because “my” kids are not troubled like that.

    To expand upon this, then, one theory is that the whole process ends up looking racist because race is standing in for socioeconomic status. You don’t necessarily know the victim’s socioeconomic status from reading the headline and seeing the obligatory picture, but my perception is that people make the assumption of middle-class-ness if the victim is white. (No such luck if you’re not.) If that middle-class status eventually is found to not be there, or if the victim in any way “brought it on themselves”, the attention is removed. This also partially explains why girls & women get so much more attention, as there is always a sneaking suspicion that a boy might have gotten in trouble somehow. Again, this stuff stands in until the readers get more information.

    For example recall the case of Bill Cosby’s son, who was killed randomly in LA many years ago as he stopped to change a flat tire. That got plenty of press; his socioeconomic status was not in question and he was engaged in an activity that clearly was not his “fault” because of a bad decision.

    So is this about working-class kids or people of color being valued less? Or is it simply that we’re so jaded by media coverage that only the most frightening scenarios garner interest: a situation where a person just like “me”, who did nothing “wrong”, can still end up abducted/kidnapped/murdered?

  12. 12
    teresa says:

    I agree with those points. Add the fact that she was on her graduation trip and was an honors student and it’s the perfect (horrible) story. My husband and I were talking about whether or not the FBI would be sent to find us if we had disappeared. Likely not; however, the ache in my heart for that family is not dimished because of the stupidity of the media.

    Three months ago, my father was killed in an ATV accident cutting trails in a wooded area on his land and the media swarmed in as the search went out to find him. Luckily, we were able to shoo them away via the police chaplain, but they were hungry at the bottom of the hill with their cameras…desperate for our tearful testimonies; waiting to catch our most painful moments and we were give the terrible news. Subsequently the story was reported incorrectly, touting Daddy as an “ATV enthusiast.” Bullshit. He had a hip injury and he had 26 acres to work on.

    The media has become a reflection of our poorly functioning society. It is obscene to watch.

  13. 13
    Glaivester says:

    I remember in one of the missing-person cases (Jessica Lunsford, maybe?) where one of the interviewers asked: “Oh, it must be horrible for you! She was such a pretty girl.” I sort of hoped the relative would answer sarcastically, “Oh, of course. If she had been plain we wouldn’t have minded her going missing.”

  14. 14
    jstevenson says:

    There are plenty of reports of missing black women. This one is missing after killing her boyfriend; that one is missing after robbing the National Bank of Whitey; she is missing after beating up a classmate; etc. I just saw a report on America’s Most Wanted about a sister who is accused of murder. Come on, what is it that you want? Missing black women get plenty more coverage than the white “girl-next-door”.

  15. 15
    Sebastian says:

    I think that woman (?) ginmar is a very sick person who has a huge chip on her shoulder.

    She is filled with loathing for men.

    Here is a new word for you ginmar – misandrist.

    You need a good heterosexual relationship to sort you out. !

    Don’t other people agree?


  16. 16
    Kai Jones says:

    What is the policy on obvious trolls around here? Ignore, delete, respond?

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    I think that woman (?) ginmar is a very sick person who has a huge chip on her shoulder.

    She is filled with loathing for men.

    Here is a new word for you ginmar – misandrist.

    You need a good heterosexual relationship to sort you out. !

    Don’t other people agree?



  18. 18
    Barbara says:

    I think that there is also a disconnect between the national and at least some local media. Although I don’t watch local news a whole lot, when I do, it seems like our local channels do tend to highlight such incidents regardless of race. It strikes me that the national media (esp. CNN and Fox) cater to a relatively narrow demographic stratum, whereas, at least where I live, the local channels would be hard pressed to avoid reporting on the concerns of Hispanics, African-Americans, etc. And yes, I do think there is a morbid fascination with situations in which IT COULD HAVE BEEN MY CHILD! It’s almost like there is some protective effect in watching other people go through agony, as if, because it can only happen so many times and it’s already happened to them, and if I suffer enough vicariously, me and mine will be safe.

  19. 19
    Radfem says:

    I think it’s more about society playing different value on different lives. White women have a higher status in society than Black women do, or Latino women do, for example. They are viewed as being victims, rather than criminals, so a white woman disappears and she’s kidnapped, like the “runaway bride” for example(and yeah, I believed she was kidnapped at first, now I hope they toss her in jail). LE treats white women as needing rescue. They treat Black women as nonhuman. They even have names for that.

    Cases involving white women get higher priority than those involving women of color from rape, to murder, to robbery, to kidnapping. For example, we had two women who were victims of hit and run. The Black woman was riding her bike down a road, was hit from behind, was killed and landed off-road in an orange grove. Someone called anomynously from a pay phone to report where her body was.

    The White female college student was in a parking lot, and someone was trying to take her car. She jumped in to block its path, was hit and killed. The guy drove off. She was on the cell phone to her father at the time it happened.

    Class wise, the Black woman was working-class, and p/t community college student. The White woman was from more affluent, and was a university student.

    Guess which case got two detectives(the minimum). Guess which one got assigned eight detectives, the homicide sergeant and two evidence techs?

    Guess which one was solved in 48 hours. Guess which one remains unsolved.

    There are NO men or women of color in either our homicide division or our crimes against persons(assaults, attempted murder) division. Just white men. I know, b/c they breakfast at the same place I do once a week. In general, they work hard, as most homicide detectives do, but they don’t have anyone who can look at a teenage woman who is Black and was hit on her bike, and say “that could be my daughter.” The white college student did have that, at least.

    for the black woman who was hit by the car and left to die alone in an orange grove, what she needs for her killer to be found is ONE detective who can look at her, and care…because her case is in the “cold case” file by now.

    Sometimes, there’s exceptions, like a guy I know who is Latino and was shot and his friend was killed by gang members 10 years ago, just had his “cold case” reopened by a detective, who’s probably more enlightened than most the ones we have.

    Our DA department is almost all White, top to bottom. They view men and women of color as criminals, and if they are victims, well it’s their fault.

    If Black women disappear, or Latinas, it’s assumed it’s their own fault, because there’s a belief that they can’t be blameless victims.

    the media picks its racist stereotypes and sticks to them.

    Class plays a role, and White women, without additional information given, are assumed to be in a higher economic class, b/c there’s still this perception that all Black women or men are poor. Class might be the only hope many men or women of color have for justice if they are victims(i.e. Bill Cosby’s son who was killed by a white man. White on Black crime is probably the hardest for the victim to get justice)

  20. I don’t know. I think there is a lot lot lot of free-floating hostility towards pretty white girls and women out there, and I have a horrible suspicion that quite a few people get a certain charge out of seeing that they have been kidnapped, raped, assaulted, beaten, killed, and that this is one reason for the media attention they receive. They deserved it, you know, spoiled little blankety-blank-blank-blanks, they asked for it. And one reason I have this horrible suspicion is that lots of pornography features abduction, rape, assault and murder of pretty white girls and women, meaning lots of men get off on the idea.


  21. 21
    Elena says:

    Another non-American perspective, sort of: when I lived in Ecuador years ago a young woman dissapeared after a night at the disco. An acquiantance (suspect) dropped her off and she never made it inside. A big fuss was made probably because she was middle class college student, not a poor indigenous woman, who dissapear all the time, according to the activists around at the time. I believe them. The thing is, it didn’t help her- the police released their “report” to the media a few weeks later- that she left town because she “liked men” and no ransom had been asked for. She “liked men” because she had been at a disco. When activists protested that women are kidnapped for other reasons than ransom, her parents issued a statement highly offended that someone had dare to imply that their still missing (to this day) daughter might have been raped.

    We’ve come a long way, babies. And let’s not begrudge these poor doomed girls and women their attention and pity just because we haven’t learned to extend it enough yet.

  22. 22
    mythago says:

    One reason for this that has nothing directly to do with bias is resources. Upper-middle-class families have far more money and connections to get attention and to get their story out.

  23. 23
    Crys T says:

    I don’t really see that the fact that white people do tend to have more resources automatically precludes any racist and/or classist blases.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that the white public at large is far more willing to extend sympathy to blonde haired blue-eyed females than darker ones.

    I’m not saying resources are unimportant, but I believe it’s far more complex than just that.

  24. 24
    ginmar says:

    Heart—Kind of proves your point, doesn’t it?

    I think that woman (?) ginmar is a very sick person who has a huge chip on her shoulder. (Mental illness.)

    She is filled with loathing for men. (Not that they ever deserve it.)

    Here is a new word for you ginmar – misandrist. (Patronizing, and man-hating! How about woman-hating?)

    You need a good heterosexual relationship to sort you out. ! (I can’t tell if he’s calling me a lesbian in addition to telling me to go get laid, but there’s the certainly the hint that I can’t have that ‘good heterosexual relationship’ . All your problems exist not because of sexism but becuase of your sexual frustration.)

    Don’t other people agree?

    Preening and so forth.

    Ampersand, this guy was secretly a feminist, wasn’t he? C’mon, admit it.

    Heart, I don’t think the hostility’s hidden at all. It just depends on what degree you get. Sexist men don’t see it as being hostile at all; they see it as being right. I mean, look at somebody lke Aegis, who posts endlessly about how he’s right and all t hese women are wrong. It might not be hostile, but he’s just not listening to anyone.

  25. 25
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    People in buriness are guessing about what works, and there might be more interest in major media stories about missing black women than the major media thinks, but we’ll never find out unless someone in the major media has the guts to try running the storiy.

  26. 26
    DC denizen says:

    It’s hard to look at the national media’s obsession with missing pretty white women and not conclude that racism and classism are at work. I am, however, a little skeptical that white women really benefit from this. (Not that anyone’s really stated that explicitly, but there do seem to be a number of comments that imply that things would be better if stories about non-middle-class and/or non-white missing women were reported on at the same level.)

    Rather, I think the media frenzy around women who go missing serves to create a pervasive fear that can hold women back from many opportunities. From my own experience when I was a teenager and college student, the more stories like this come out, the more parents and family members and yes, even oneself, start to think and say that maybe going across the country to college isn’t such a good idea. Maybe travelling with friends to Mexico over the summer isn’t the smartest choice. Maybe moving to the big city to take that job or internship you really want isn’t safe. Maybe it would be better to just not do that–any of that. (Yes, I realize the fact that I’m even speaking about college and good careers means that I have had much opportunity denied to a whole host of women who don’t have the requisite skin color and level of affluence to do these things.)

    I think the net effect of these stories is to encourage, just a little more each time a new one runs, that women start to circumscribe their activities and their life to avoid *perceived* danger. Real danger, on the other hand, is much more likely to come from sources closer to home. (Barry Glassner’s book “The Culture of Fear” has some interesting things to say about perceived danger vs. real danger, as an aside.)

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that in my ideal world, these stories wouldn’t get picked up *at all* by the national media. Who do they benefit, other than some sick people who may get a charge out of seeing another “helpless damsel” get what’s coming to her? (I’m open to having someone change my mind, but I don’t really see that mass media exposure in these situations has made much of a difference in the end result. It didn’t for Chandra Levy, or Laci Peterson, or the various other women who have been spotlighted over the past couple of years.)

  27. 27
    The Amazing Kim says:

    “We’ve come a long way, babies.”
    We might even be toddlers by now?

  28. 28
    Radfem says:

    “I am, however, a little skeptical that white women really benefit from this. Not that anyone’s really stated that explicitly, but there do seem to be a number of comments that imply that things would be better if stories about non-middle-class and/or non-white missing women were reported on at the same level.) ”

    I do believe I stated that it would be better if LE, DA’s and so forth treated crimes against women of color as seriously as they treated those of White women. There’s more to the focus on these kinds of stories involving White women than just the media’s depiction. The more attention is paid to the crime, the better chance it has of being solved.

    Laci Peterson and Chandra Levy, I don’t know if coverage helped. Others, maybe. We had a story here that got tons of coverage, and accompanying detective resources used, a woman who was stabbed to death while 5 months pregnant, inside her own home. It’s still unsolved, though a composite was released that got a lot of exposure.

    National coverage might be important in a case of child abduction where state lines might be crossed. It’s also important in cases were serial killers move from city to city or state to state like Christopher Wilder and Ted Bundy. Bundy would have been caught sooner if there’d been a federal database in place that allowed states to share data on similar patterned crimes.

    If more stories were reported on women of color or women of working class or lower economic class backgrounds were reported, would that be any better? I’m not really sure from the comments who things would be better or worse, so I’m assuming all women?

    If it helps more of the crimes get solved with more exposure, then yes. Crimes that get media attention do get the lionshare of investigation resources from the law enforcement agencies involved.

    If it’s all about exploitation, then probably not.

    There might be a variety of different opinions on this topic.

    But when the women I work with, or socialize with see those stories of White women on television getting the coverage and say, well they’d never give it that much attention if she were Black, Latina, American Indian, that’s a point that is hard to ignore. It’s true, after all. Whether that extra coverage penalizes White women, well there’s probably a lot of different opinions on that as well. Probably some people would say it does, others would say, not.

  29. 29
    ginmar says:

    The thing that creeped me out about the Laci Peterson case was how thoroughly the coverage demonstrated what it’s like to be a woman today. If you’re not pregnant, it’s not really news. It’s like she wasn’t a person on her own, the fetus was. Laci Peterson wasn’t a story on her own. It says something about the normality of violence against women that there has to be a hook.

  30. 30
    Dee says:

    As a black woman living in L.A., I hear more than my share of real life horror stories on the local news channels. And while local news is a bit more balanced in its coverage of white vs non-white, cable news, however, is a different animal. While I truly sympathize with anyone whose loved one is missing, I am astounded by the amount of cable media coverage the pretty, white, suburban woman gets after she comes up missing. Didn’t we just have the runaway bride hoax dominating the news a few of weeks ago? Now she’s got a book and movie deal in the works…hah! But here we go again with Ms. Holloway…5 men (and counting) questioned and/or arrested…friends and family are paraded across the screen to add their ‘she was such a good girl’ speeches…we’re given a blow by blow accounting of the status of the case every hour on the hour. These cases are relatively rare, but just like the runaway bride, this story is being played up as the crime of the century. I view it as another ploy the government-run media uses to keep white people afraid… as long as white folks are afraid, the racial divide will continue to exist in this country. Because as we all know, black and brown men (terrorists all of them!) are on every corner, unable to resist the temptation to pounce on the much-desired, lily-white damsel/victim in distress, to have their way with her, and if she resists, to do her harm…at the least, rob her of her purity, and at worst, take her life. But if something bad happens to a black female or Latina, if she get any media coverage, the story is artfully spun to appear that she probably had it coming to her.

  31. 31
    ginmar says:

    You know, that’s just infuriating, because they really do prevent people from coming together. That’s why I get so pissed off when people use rare events as examples; it just obscures reality and for what purpose?

    It’s like those rape discussions that always seem to feature guys going, “Oh, man, I’d KILL a rapist.” What they mean is the rapist in the alley, not their buddy Bob, who got entrapped by that lying bitch who shouldn’t have been drinking in the bar in the first place. Talking about the rapist in the alley enables them to avoid taking a good long look at Bob, his failed marriage, his contempt for women, and what significance his loathing for independant might have.

  32. 32
    Robert says:

    That’s why I get so pissed off when people use rare events as examples; it just obscures reality and for what purpose?

    Testing theories, improving models, and validating worldviews. A theory that only accounts for 95% of observed behavior may have some truth in it, but is very unlikely to be close to the real truth. A theory that works for the outliers as well as the median is much stronger.

  33. 33
    ginmar says:

    That’s nice, Robert, but you’re still trying to justify using 5% to ignore the 95%. Why focus on the 5% at all? When you have three examples, and you use as an exampale something that your own theory indicates is 1% of reality, why use that instead of something that represents the majority–99? You’ve just falsified your data to indicate that that 1% is a valid representative of 33%. Why? Why must you inflate such an extreme minority to such an extreme percentage?

    A theory that only accounts for 95% of observed behavior may have some truth in it, but is very unlikely to be close to the real truth. A theory that works for the outliers as well as the median is much stronger.

    Some truth, my ass—-try 95% truth. Why do you want to hightlight that 5% at the expense of the 96%? You want to treat unequals equally. I notice that when this topic comes up you retreat to theories and crap. Why is it so very important that you inflate that 1% to 33%, or 5% to 95%? Why must you give precedence to that 5% so that it’s included, somehow? Let’s face it, if we’re talking theory and you have 95% verified, who cares about the 5%? Maybe the 5%, that’s who.

    You know, when white people insist on using as examples only those black people who commit crimes, nobody has trouble calling them racist. When somebody insists on using a 1% sample of women–and even then, only those who’ve been raped, I don’t see why it should be too hard to see what they’re doing to women is the exact same thing.

  34. 34
    Robert says:

    I don’t suggest ignoring the 95%. I suggest that the 95% is understood, and the 5% is not – and so someone seeking understanding is going to be paying close attention to the 5%.

    If we’re talking about lying in the context of rape, well, I imagine that 99% of women who say they’ve been raped are telling the truth, and 1% are lying. (Or some similarly-outsized ratio.) If the discussion centers on LYING and rape is one context, I would expect more focus on the 1%. If the discussion is on RAPE and lying is one subelement, I would expect more focus on the 99%. In the specific case, Richard was talking about LYING – so he focused on people who lie.

    Let’s face it, if we’re talking theory and you have 95% verified, who cares about the 5%?

    People interested in the whole truth. You don’t seem interested in any truth that doesn’t conform to your personal ideology; that’s cool, but your continuous outrage that other people don’t share your narrow view is tiresome. The world’s failure to conform to your opinion of what facts should be noticed isn’t a “falsification of data”. It’s an attempt to look at all the data and find wisdom therein.

  35. 35
    Pseudo-Adrienne says:

    You don’t seem interested in any truth that doesn’t conform to your personal ideology

    Oh, and you never do that?

  36. 36
    Robert says:

    Oh, and you never do that?

    Surely I commit the error from time to time. However, I spend a lot of my “political” time (more than half) talking to people who have radically different beliefs than I do. And I try to listen, otherwise it’s wasted effort.

    How much time do you spend reading and commenting on conservative sites?

  37. 37
    Pseudo-Adrienne says:

    How much time do you spend reading and commenting on conservative sites?

    I read them but I don’t need to leave comments on their blogs, as I have a whole damn immediate family of conservatives to talk to and debate with, and I do it all_the_fucking_time, Robert. Kinda hard not to do when you’re surrounded by them and live in a Midwestern red-state as I do. My dad and brothers sound every bit like the typical conservative blogger (like you), so why go online when I can just call one of them? And I didn’t ask you for some lengthy “well I do ‘this’ and ‘this’, so I’m a good person” explination either.

  38. 38
    ginmar says:

    I don’t suggest ignoring the 95%. I suggest that the 95% is understood, and the 5% is not – and so someone seeking understanding is going to be paying close attention to the 5%.

    Oh, bullshit. When the 5% is used to tar the majority—a point that you have continuously overlooked then what you have is an attempt at deception.

    Repeat: When white people talk about the minority of black people who commit crime at the expense of the majority who obey the laws, they correctly get labelled racist. You’re focusing on a negative minority. Why are you so concerned with focusing on that minority? The majority in this case—rape victims who face all the stigma visited upon them by society—are invalidated by your focus on the malevolent 5%. I notice you keep trying to wrest the topic back to theory. But we’re dealing with rape vicitms. Why does that 5% or 1% or some statistical irrelevancy so motivate you?

    People interested in the whole truth. You don’t seem interested in any truth that doesn’t conform to your personal ideology; that’s cool, but your continuous outrage that other people don’t share your narrow view is tiresome. The world’s failure to conform to your opinion of what facts should be noticed isn’t a “falsification of data”?. It’s an attempt to look at all the data and find wisdom therein.

    Ah, yes, standard sexist response when all the excuses fail.

    I’ve got a narrow view? Sweetie? You’re the one arguing that 5% should be given more attention than 95%. Nothing coiuld more perfectly meet the definition of ‘narrow’? I’ll remember that the next time you wihne about how feminists brand men with the sins of hte minority amongst them, or how unfair it is to slander conservatives with the acts of the few.

  39. 39
    Robert says:

    You’re focusing on a negative minority. Why are you so concerned with focusing on that minority?

    OK. Now put these words in the mouth of an anti-feminist and report your reaction.

  40. 40
    ginmar says:

    Um, sweetie? Have you actually dealt with anything I’ve brought up? Deal with yourself first, then we’ll move on elsehwhere.

    Funny how you totally evaded anything I said. Why are you trying to justify using 1% to represent 33%? How come you just won’t deal with that?

  41. 41
    Robert says:

    Because that’s not what I’m doing, and arguments about the argument are boring.

    Short of CONSTANTLY saying “what you have said does not represent what I am arguing”, I have little choice in engaging with people who behave as you do. Argue the occasional coherent point, listen to any personal testimony, ignore the mishmash that comprises the remainder; I don’t see any other options within the constraints of this blog’s commitment to civil discourse.

  42. 42
    ginmar says:

    Robert, it’s really simple.

    You want to talk about that 5% minority that does evil things. Why? When white people do it to black people, it’s called racism. Your own exampe makes it even worse—you call it 1%. That’s out of three examples—33% per cent. You can bitch and moan all you want to, but the numbers are stark.

  43. 43
    Robert says:

    When white people do it to black people, it’s called racism.

    And when feminists do it to men, it’s called misandry, but not by anyone whose opinion I respect. Why are you validating a rhetorical tactic that you would call idiotic if it was done by people on the other side of the fence?

    You’re unhappy about the example of a woman lying that Richard employed because it plays into negative stereotypes. I can relate to that. What example of a woman lying about a significant issue do you have in mind that doesn’t play into a stereotype? I can’t think of one; lies and stereotypes are pretty tightly bound together. So are all commenters on women’s issues to just pretend that women never lie, lest we accidentally mention a stereotype?

  44. 44
    ginmar says:

    You know, Robert, you need to very careful tossing charges of man hating around, because I’ve seen people—-including myself—get called a man-hater for telling the truth. Its defensive use doesn’t say good things about the user, though you try to pretty things by using the dictionary term instead of the vernacular.

    And here you are, comparing racism—the bias of a powerful majority against a disenfranchised minority—with telling the truth about the most powerful majority in the world. That minority you’re comparing racism’s and sexism’s victims to is the one that’s perpetuated against discrimination them for centuries. That minority within that powerful majority committs rapes, wife-beatings, murders, and so forth, and other members of that minority sympathizes with those men and allows them to continue. That minority that you don’t want to tar and feather occupies all the powerful positions in today’s society. Talking about what they do makes some people so uncomfortable that they’d prefer not to look at the facts at all, so they like to concentrate on the stuff they can fix—the small group of women who commit crimes. Inflating the percentages of those crimes makes the world look positively manageable for these people, to the point where they’d really prefer to believe that the most powerful are not the most violent and dangerous. And hey, if it makes women look bad, that’s cool, too, because then, you know—they asked for it.

    Oh, yeah, and the defensive cry of, “But you’re saying all men are bad because a minority of them are evil!” isn’t that far from the classic whine of, “But not all men are bad!”

    You keep changing the subject and twisting around and it still doesn’t change what is a really simple premise: use proporpionate examples. But of course, if you do do that, you’re going to get called a man hater because so much crime is committed by men.

    You’re unhappy about the example of a woman lying that Richard employed because it plays into negative stereotypes.

    Kind of disingenuous to miss the key component there, Robert, isn’t it? It’s not lying in general: have at it—–it’s lying about rape. That doesn’t play into stereotyeps: It is THE STEREOTYPE. Richard could have picked an example of a woman lying about money, or shoplifting, or something. Instead he had a woman lying about rape and a coy example about ‘spousal abuse’ when such abuse is committed by men against women—and that involved a ‘spouse’ lying about it get custody. The one about rape is especially poisonous because it gets hurled at every woman who’s been raped, and is used to tar and feather all women. It is the Ur-stereotype against women, the basis for all of them. Women lie. Women lie about rape. You can dismiss rape victims, rape, and women with that one. It was never about lying. It was always about lying about rape.

    You’d better stop complaining about stereotypes of Christians, pro lifers and conservatives if that’s your attitude, Robert.

  45. 45
    alsis38.9 says:

    “I have a whole damn immediate family of conservatives to talk to and debate with, and I do it all_the_fucking_time, Robert. Kinda hard not to do when you’re surrounded by them and live in a Midwestern red-state as I do…”

    Hell, P-A. Even Oregon, the supposed “Blue State,” is really only “blue” in a few cities like Portland and possibly Eugene or Ashland. The major paper in the city is co-edited by a vapid, anti-feminist Right-wing goon named David Reinhardt who shares his deepest thoughts with us at least two times a week. You know, so we can be “diverse” and all. Because the media is so oppressive to the poor, beleaguered conservatives.

  46. 46
    AndiF says:


    /semi-teasing and semi-serious

    Weeping about how tuff it is to live in oregon to people like P-A and me who live in indiana is just too much like FRAs complaining how women run the world and Xians complaining how they are persecuted. (Besides anyone who lives where they can go to Powell’s anytime they want is by definition too lucky to complain.)

    /* semi-teasing and semi-serious

  47. 47
    alsis38.9 says:

    Well, P-A, I was cloddishly trying to make the point that despite Robert’s martyr act, liberals seem to feel much more pressured to “allow” Right-wingers into the heart of their alleged base of operations. They seem to be much more easily stung and influenced by acusations of “intolerance.”

    I can’t go to Powell’s. I’m broke. :p

  48. 48
    ginmar says:

    Yeah, sorry, but comparing racism to what?–uh, white male persecution takes the cake for me.

    Alsis, I’m taking you up on the champagne brunch thing.I know it was in another thread, but fuck it.

  49. 49
    alsis38.9 says:

    D’oh. Andi, not P-A. Sorry. :o

  50. 50
    alsis38.9 says:

    Wear something black and severe, ginmar. I’m told that the Parisians really dig that. ;)

  51. 51
    AndiF says:


    Not cloddish — I’m just jealous (besides the more liberal, open-minded atmosphere, the greatest bookstore in world, you also have some of the best hiking anywhere).

    on powell’s — I’m happy just browsing the aisle; I never care if I buy anything.

  52. 52
    AndiF says:

    boy do I miss preview

    that’s ‘aisles’

  53. 53
    mythago says:

    alsis, I think the best comment on Reinhardt (from, I believe, the old Portland Xpress?) was that he puts the “jerk” in “knee-jerk conservative.” I mean, this is the guy who thought The Bridges of Madison County was bad because it condoned men manipulating women into adultery. I ask you.

    Andi – move!

  54. 54
    AndiF says:

    Andi – move!

    Not an option but I will stop kvetching.

  55. 55
    ginmar says:

    Dude, I was just there. Besides, I only wear burkas at home.

    The French were so nice that that snide remark of David’s on the other thread seems especially offensive. Then again, it’s really easy to see how he’d be the sort to bellow at people in English in their own country and feel enraged when they didn’t oblige him.

    I’ve got a better idea. Let’s avoid Paris and go to Tours. Lovely square there, surrounded by fifteenth-century half-timbered houses and pubs built into the remains of fourteenth-century churches. Waddaya say?

  56. 56
    alsis38.9 says:

    mythago, that’s brilliant. You know, Reinhardt once had a column called “Who Wants To Be A Ragin’ Feminist” wherein he expressed amazement that NOW agreed with him about the degrading nature of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” I mean, WTF ? He expected feminists to all rise as one to applaud it ? How do grown human beings remain that utterly clueless when they’re past forty ? It’s amazing. The other freaky thing about him is that he’s on the board of one of the local DV shelters. Perhaps I’d find this less disconcerting if he wasn’t a semi-legend amongst some of the local Lefty commentators for his thin skin and bad temper. :/

    All right, ginmar. But I get to wear my comfy workboots, right ? They’re black. ;)

  57. 57
    ginmar says:

    Comfy work boots it is, then. Wait till I show you Azay.

  58. 58
    Tony Martin says:

    Here is my on-going list of poor white women who have had major media exposure since 2003:
    Jessica Lynch
    Teri Peterson
    Amber Frye
    Teri Shiavo
    Runaway Bride
    Pretty white girl missing in Aruba

  59. 59
    ginmar says:

    Every one of these women’s stories carried a message.

    Jessica Lynch She was not well-trained or prepared for battle, but someone it’s her fault.

    Teri Peterson ? You mean Laci Peterson. She wasn’t a good story till she went missing while pregnant. Pregnancy=important.

    Amber Frye A duplicitous mistress, blond and attractive.

    Teri Shiavo A body, not so much as a woman.

    Runaway Bride A lying woman, crying wolf. Certain to be used against any woman who claims to be victimized.

    Pretty white girl missing in Aruba

    The pretty white girl had a name: Natalee Holloway. She’s one of those rape cautionary tales: Oh, look what happend to this carless girl! Learn from her example.

  60. 60
    Mister Baddass says:

    Another White Girl Missing ““ Who Da Fuck Cares!

    By Mister Baddass

    Let me put it straight-up to the white folk out there, this black man does not care if one million white people in America is broadcast by the media, twenty-four-seven, as missing, killed, or kidnapped.

    My gut feeling is that were the brothers, and sisters on the street asked their take on the subject the response would be:

    * “I don’t give a shit”?
    * “So what”?
    * “Who gives a fuck”?
    * “That’s one less white muddafucka to put up with”?

    Let us get real, the people you see being forced on us non-stop are 99.9% white!

    Overwhelmingly, they are white females. The latest is that Holloway person in Aruba. As with the rest of the bunch, the Martian-eyed piece of shit who claimed to abducted by a Hispanic male with his white accomplish, took her from Georgia to New Mexico that Smart girl in Utah, Lacie and Connor Peterson, Polly Klaas, Jon-Benet Ramsey, Chandra Levy, Jessica, and, the list goes on.

    I want to be clear about Lacie and Connor, Polly, Jon-Benet, Chandra, and Jessica, nothing they did warranted their murders, and, nothing Elizabeth did warranted her ordeal. The parents and love ones do not deserve to suffer for the behavior and actions of others who are determined to bring about suffering and pain on others.

    Nor, are they in responsible for the actions of the print, television, and radio.

    However, if it sounds as though I have a severe case of the ass about flicking on the television and being inundated by the latest barrage of shit about a missing white girl, you can move to the head of the class, cause you got the 411 my position.

    The longer I live, the more I am convinced that white people could not live one week being black. This may be the only thing learned during a few decades on this earth. But, why bore you with my triumphs.

    White folk have no idea of what black people put up with from the cradle to the grave. Worse yet, in this age of round-the-clock media.

    Take the latest case of a missing person named Natalee. From the jump, to get attention it is essential that we know that she is white, blond hair, attractive, all according to the white media.

    The typical girl next-door, all-American girl, shit they always come up with.

    Real smart blacks know whenever the media describes someone as being the All-American girl-next-door, American as apple-pie, or blue-blooded American, they ain’t talkin’ bout a black male or female.

    Anyway, this person Natalee goes off to Aruba with members of her high school class, and suddenly is missing.

    Right away, the media, especially Fox News, decides to make a nobody into a somebody by conning the general public that Natalee is the most important person in our lives.

    First, I have never met Natalee nor have I ever met her parents, relatives, or friends. In fact, I have never traveled to Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, or any Southern state. Therefore, I have no idea of what or whom Natalee is about.

    However, folk, these facts don’t mean shit to Fox News!

    They are determined that Mister Baddass and every black person in America know about the missing blonde-haired person.

    They are determined to turn their asshole to the viewers and shit out in your face racism.

    More than anything, blacks have become nothing more than commodes for the media to dump their tons of racist turds in.

    You will note that no matter where a black person lives some things never change. Immediately following the disappearance, they rounded up the “Niggaz,” and Bill O’Reilly promptly branded them as less than human. Mind you, this depiction out of the mouth of the most, I think, perverse and liar on television and radio.

    How else do you explain a person who is having phone sex, with someone who ain’t his wife, while simultaneously masturbating.

    As it turned out, the brothers had nothing to do with the disappearance, and, of course, O’Reilly did not apologize.

    Meanwhile, for what seems like ions, a nobody named Natalee has been made into my daughter, mother, sister, brother, daddy, wife, husband, son, or some relative.

    Natalee might be an all right girl, but, aunt Odessa she ain’t.

    She might even be a good piece of snatch for some young man, but I don’t have a damn thing to do with that.

    I have been around long enough to know that young people attend such functions as Spring Break, mostly to get away from the folk at home, to partake of the freedoms such events allow.

    Everybody knows that alcohol and sex are much a part of such festivities as seeing and being seen.

    Black folk know were Natalee black, her chances of getting more than a ten-second sound bite is slim and none even in her hometown. It certainly would not merit a national story.

    Tamika Huston’s family can tell you a couple of stories about that issue. Incidentally, I mentioned her story on numerous occasions to friends and others last year soon after she was reported.

    Recently, after reading about Tamika in USA Today, a friend, reminded me that I had spoken about Tamika last summer.

    But, Tamika ain’t white and the white folk don’t give a damn. Moreover, the white man says it ain’t got nothin’ to do with race. It be bout human interest he say.

    Ain’t that a real mother for you!

    Let me give you my take on what went down in Aruba. Natalee, and her fellow students went to Aruba to have a good time. She consumed alcoholic drinks, hooked up with a young man, and went on to party hearty, ending at locale where the fellow intended to have sex with her. Things got out of hand, Natalee did not want sex, and the young man then raped her.

    The young man then faces a dilemma; if she is allowed leave, she will rightly report him to the authorities. He certainly does not wish to be convicted and sentenced to prison. It makes more sense to him to kill her and dispose of her body. It is easier to do with the aid of friends.

    Nobody told these fellows they could never get away with such a crime.

    However, the news media will not put it this way. They want Natalee to be portrayed as pure as snow.

    After all, only black females hookup at the first meeting, get drunk, do the nasty at the drop of hat just like the sluts they are so whatever happens to them they asked for it.

    Mister Baddass is one person who cares about black lives, and does not think that everything negative that happens to black women is a result of their “asking for it.”?

    To make sure the readers have no illusions about my feelings about the black female, she is the most important human being on this earth.

    She is the mother of humankind.

    Without her, there is no white woman or man.

    Finally, a message to sorry ass Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the news media, my attitude every time I hear of a missing white woman, or white person is like that of the little country duck, I don’t give a fuck!

    ©2005, Mister Baddass

    Mister Baddass can be reached at misterbaddass@yahoo.com

  61. 61
    Mark A says:

    What’s more important than black or white is that all of us are being denied real news. Even the bombings in London only got 2 days of full coverage and then it was back to aruba and now the hurricane. On any given night I can tell you what will be on msnbc, fox, or cnn just by reading the headlines of the Star or the Enquirerer while standing in line at the supermarket.

  62. 62
    ginmar says:

    So let’s see—it’s a pissing match between black men and white men as to which w omen we can give a shit about? It’s either/or?

    Gee, the feminist in me says both. And I’m reminded more than a little of LeRoy Jones and Eldredge Cleaver. “MY WOMEN!” “NO, MY WOMEN!”

  63. 63
    ARCTIC F0X says:

    This thread just makes me sad. Almost every response, even the very well thought out, polite and controlled, is still colored and flavored by personal ego. Men and women alike, the ego comes in and just seems to say, “Tell me I’m wrong, go ahead, I dare you.”

    All of the angry non-ego driven things on this thread looks good.

    Just an FYI, arguing over statistical matters is usually a wasted effort. Even after grinding through calculus, statistics, multidimensional statistical analysis, i found that most of my classmates still had no idea what they physically *meant*!

    I agree with the OP. It’s insane. Reasons have mostly been covered. I’d just like to touch on a few points made and add some of my own insanity: (you know who wrote these, i won’t bother giving credit, just scroll back up)

    1. These stories are motivated to scare women. I hadn’t ever thought of this. Fascinating! White women are in general the most aggressive, confident and empowered group of women in the USA for good reason: They come from money and power (generally more often, and yes, it’s a glaring stereotype on the mind of everyone in America). If the news (male controlled) can frighten them, perhaps it’ll save time cowing the other girls. Conspiracy theory-ish, but not a bad one.

    2. There are more white folks in the USA and they in general have more money, so lets cater the shows that draw statistically greater numbers of them (ie, the greater share of the greater portion of the population) with things that they’ll find emotionally engaging. For example, lets have white girls be kidnapped!

    3. Taking this into account, lets quickly surf the other channels and find black girls. Comedy’s, Sitcoms, Crime stories and.. MTV! Holy crap, have you seen the MTV Hits channel? You can see more black girl skin per second than if you cruised Howard’s campus. Lets take a quick conclusion from this that the media wants america to see, feel: Black women are not to be taken seriously except when they’re committing crimes or when they’re easy sex objects.

    4. I’d personally rather avoid demonizing men, seeing as I am one and certainly there *seems* to be a wide spread paranoia that the feminists haven’t won, haven’t slowed down, and are only recently started releasing their final solution-esk agenda. That agenda being to tranquilize men and those that aren’t tranq’d should be put behind bars. Deny men education, and be aggressive to disenfranchise them as a whole. Yes, it’s paranoid and I sure hope it’s wrong. However, a clearly volatile subject matter such as racism and sexism as the core of topic should try and AVOID blanket statements, from BOTH sides! They only further fuel the extremists, on both sides.

    5. The halloway case seems unlikely to achieve any kind of reasonable conclusion. Probably getting blown completely out of hand. What if she, after having gotten home slightly intoxicated, tripped and fell into the wrong hotelroom/apartment? She hit her head and dies (falling while drunk means you hit stuff *hard*). This poor devil now has a white foreign girl dead on his floor. Lets say he’s a local and dark skinned. Is he going to call the cops and say “hey, i got some dead white girl in the house. i tried giving her mouth to mouth and had to move the body. Her bloods all over my floor and on my hands/cloths from trying to help her. Could you come clean up this crime scene and have me thrown away in jail for the rest of my life?” Yes, yes, the story is highly implossible. But it is possible. This poor fool owns a boat, a fishing boat or something. He sails out beyond international waters, dumps the body and says a prayer over it asking for forgiveness. In that situation, i imagine even she would be hard pressed to condemn him, in heaven/nirvana/where-ever, when she could see the other consequences for doing the ‘right’ thing.

    6. Boredom. Yeah, it was said. Dog bites man. Been there, done that. Heck, there was 3 men in my small city who serial raped 2 underage girls they weren’t related to for a very long night and then released them like nothing happened. They even seem surprised when the cops showed up. It made the town news for a few days and then went away. Did it ever see the national news? nope. A white woman has consensual sex with an underage boy and it makes news for month. “She’s his teacher. She’s corrupting him, yadda yadda yadda.” It’s newsworthy because it’s different.

    Now, i must get some sleep!