It was on a recent comment thread that the subject of racial bias in abduction reportage popped up. I allude to the phenomenon where a white woman and a black woman may be kidnaped on the same day, but the news media only get overwrought about the white girl. The socio-pathology underlying the phenomenon is said to be that, for a given kidnap/murder, the depth of responding media prurience correlates precisely with the abductee’s sex and social status.
As an aside, let us please observe a moment of silence for how fucking educational this blog is. I had always informally thought of the aforementioned phenomenon as Natalee Hollowayism. Come to find out it’s an official syndrome. It’s called, in fact, Missing White Woman Syndrome. I read all about it in Wikipedia. Speaking of Wikipedia, here’s a kind of funny example of Wikipedian copy-editing gone awry:
“Described as ‘bright and beautiful,’ Huston’s remains were found more than a year later.”
But I digress.
No, wait, I feel another digression coming on. While I’m on the subject of race bias, an anecdote:
Austin’s swankiest second-hand store is a joint called Uncommon Objects. This shop, located on trendy South Congress on the event horizon of an irony wormhole, is jammed to the joists with quirky, overpriced mid-20th century bric-a-brac and weird-ass shit running the gamut from cheezy to creepy: huge pink vulvateen ceramic ashtrays, disfigured and disembodied rubber baby-doll heads, rusty old dental instruments, frayed Masonic tapestries embroidered with sinister symbols, etc. I go a-rummaging there whenever I’m in the market for a Mason jar full of petrified sugar cubes ca. 1953, or a disintegrating antique leather baby shoe, or, as was the case yesterday when I adjourned thither for a quick rootle, a heartwarming gift for my sidekick Stingray (see the chic and elegant plastic brooch pictured above; although for some reason, she failed to warm to it in the enthusiastic manner I had anticipated).
Anyway, I had just finished examining a disturbing, moldy-looking object labeled “FAKE HAM $45” when I espied a faded 8 x 10 portrait of a young couple in love. The label said, “PHOTO OF BLACK COUPLE $16.50.”
Because I am an advanced patriarchy-blamer and world-famous sleuth, I immediately looked for, and detected, a similar photo of a white couple. You’ll never believe it! The sticker on this photograph did not say “PHOTO OF WHITE COUPLE $16.50.” It said “ROMANTIC PHOTO, $30.”
So there ya go.
Onward. In the comments thread to which I allude above, blamer Speedbudget observes, with respect to the idea that media coverage of women’s abductions reflects what blamer Isabel sneeringly refers to as “a public outpouring of concern:”
“In my neck of the woods, the public outpouring is one of, you guessed it, disdain for the women who get themselves kidnapped, raped, and murdered. You know. Cause she should have been doing whatever it is women should do to avoid getting kidnapped, raped, and tortured by the perpetrators of crimes everywhere.
The media tends to use these stories as object lessons for us ladybrain holders. The commentary on news programs is all about how to keep yourself safe, not about the perpetrators and how men have some [I would say “all” — Ed.] responsibility for the violence.”
Coincidentally, I recently received, from blamer frootloopz, an email on a totally related subject. The email contained a satiric regendering of one of those “scaremongering emails that people forward to me from ‘An Othershire Police Constabulary’ about how I shouldn’t go out at night, shouldn’t drink alcohol, shouldn’t do this, shouldn’t do that etc.” For the edification of the cosmos, I reproduce (a slightly modified version of) it here.
Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work
1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to assault her.
4. If you are in a lift and a woman gets in, don’t assault her. You know what? Don’t even ogle her.
5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not assault her.
6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or assault her.
7. When you lurk in bushes and doorways with criminal intentions, always wear bright clothing, wave a flashlight, or play “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)” by the Raveonettes on a boombox really loud, so women in the vicinity will know where to aim their flamethrowers.
8. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from assaulting women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you when in public.
9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to assault a woman, you can hand the whistle to your buddy, so s/he can blow it to call for help.
10. Give your buddy a revolver, so that when indifferent passers-by either ignore the rape whistle, or gather round to enjoy the spectacle, s/he can pistol-whip you.
Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be assaulting her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.
Forward this, along with $1, to everyone you know, and soon you will be a millionaire!