Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When Girls Go Missing

I am saddened that it seems like every time I turn on the TV, another girl has gone missing.

This is not just in my state, my little corner of the world, where girls go missing.

Lots of girls go missing every day. Why do girls go missing?

The most recent girl to go missing is another UVA student, up in Charlottesville, where it appears something is very wrong. Five women have gone missing in that area in the last five years. I have found references to girls going missing as far back as 1996 on the Internet. The Route 29 Stalker, some articles call it.
 
What frustrates me, though, is the "blame the victim" mentality. Why shouldn't a young woman be able to walk safely from one area of a city to another? Not just Charlottesville or Roanoke, but any city?

What gives anyone the right to touch some other human being, to reach into that personal space and cause physical harm, defilement, or death? What gives them the right?

They have no right. It doesn't matter if the girl has been drinking, what she was wearing, or how she was acting. That doesn't give anyone the right to harm another. It simply doesn't.

And yet the first thing I heard was "she'd been drinking" or "look at what she was wearing" or "why was she walking alone at 1 a.m." As if it is her fault. As if she is "asking for it" - why?

Why are the standards so different?

I am old enough now that I am always careful. But young people are not careful. When I was an older student at Hollins, the young girls had no qualms about running around a dimly lit campus without a care. Those of us who were a little older always made sure we had somebody with us when we walked to our cars. The young girls worried us then and that was 25 years ago.

So I am angry. I am angry that a young girl can't do what she wants and live her life as she wishes without doing it in fear. Because fear is what it is to be a woman in today's society. Fear of being alone with a stranger in a parking lot. Fear of going to the mall after dark. Fear of hurt, fear of pain, fear of drawing attention to yourself so that someone takes notice, and hurts you.

I am disappointed in the double standard. Why do we not have the righteous indignation that we should against these men who hurt women? Aren't they raised better? Are men really that primitive, that they can't control those urges, can't master their feelings, can't be human beings long enough to leave someone else alone? If that is the case, shouldn't they all be locked up somewhere, in zoos like animals? Doesn't the problem rest with them?

Why don't we ask those questions? Can someone tell me that? What is it always that poor missing girl's fault?

I consider myself a feminist, and as a feminist, this reaction angers me. If a young man was out running around shirtless at 1 a.m. and he went missing, would we ask the same questions? What was he doing out in the street without a shirt? Why was he drunk at 1 a.m.? No, we wouldn't ask these questions. They wouldn't even come up in the conversation.

There are facts, sure. The latest missing girl was wearing a crop top at a party. She'd been drinking. She was walking alone. But do those facts mean that she is to blame if she was assaulted, kidnapped, or killed?

Why do we blame the victim? In any assault, absolutely any assault, whether it's a mugging or a rape, a kidnapping or murder, it is not the victim's fault. The person at fault is the one who committed the crime. Always. Every time. Regardless of circumstance. Nobody "asks for it" or deserves it.

Just because I am female doesn't make it my responsibility to ensure I live. That is a societal responsibility. But I have a young niece to worry about, and she needs to be taught to be careful, to be alert, to be, I'm afraid, fearful of the world around her.

Because the truth of the matter is everyone make a mistake, and there is always some jerk out there waiting to take advantage of someone he considers "less than." And in today's world, in today's political climate, a lot of men think of women as "less than."

The media and the political arena have ensured that women are nothing more than political toys and they persist in dehumanizing females, from the abstract way they discuss our "lady parts" in the political sphere to the way they sell automobiles on television.

In an ideal world, no woman would have to worry about rape or murder. But we don’t live in that world. The best we can do is try to create that world. But does anyone really want that world?

Wouldn't there be more outspokenness, more objections, more efforts, if this type of activity were really unacceptable?

I am disgusted. I'm fed up with the media, with politics, with the whole damn patriarchal system that insists that I am less than human because I don't have a penis. What I want to know is, are you disgusted, too?

6 comments:

  1. Oh, I have been disgusted over much of this since about 1970.

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  2. i understand you thoughts, but (there is always a BUT) i also think that a lady should always protect herself, not drink & put herself in jeopardy, she should always think "what if, this or that happens, am i ready or what would i do if this happens??!" i took a self defense class, i think all ladies should.

    what makes me so so sad is that the cop have not taken the same results in each case, they have gone over & beyond on this Hannah case & other cases lately have NOT gotten the same TV response & what about their families? they are at a loss too? the hubby thinks it is due to their race? i feel for their families too. there are several older ladies who have gone missing too. what about them? they are not college students but they are missing as well. ) :

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    1. Ageism is also a big issue in our society. It will only grow worse, I think, as the baby boomers age.

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  3. Neither men or women have not gone out walking by themselves in the middle of the night in cities, throughout history. It isn't safe no matter who you are and to pretend different will just get people in trouble. There is a right to do it but I wouldn't walk around C'ville unless I was in a group and preferably armed. The criminals know that little will happen to them, they even let this guy go.

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    1. I think you might have missed my point. My point was the double standard. I'm not pretending it is safe, I'm just saying that it should be, and that it condemns us as a society that it isn't, not for anyone. But it is even worse for women, because they are blamed when they are victims. We don't blame men when they are victims.

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  4. Good post, Anita, and you're right -- people do tend to put more personal blame on a woman that goes missing than a man. Sadly, this sort of thing seems to happen more frequently in college towns. Back in late August, when all of the students started moving back to town, there were three sexual assaults in five days in the campus area. You'd think we wouldn't have to be careful about walking alone after dark, but such is the society we live in. People -- men and women -- need to payer closer attention to their surroundings and look out for each other. As for the recent incident in Virginia, I was shocked to hear a person of interest had been allowed to leave police headquarters after consulting a lawyer and without being questioned by police -- and then he disappeared! I hope they find both of them, and that the girl is still alive.

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