Friday, January 11, 2008

The Dead White Girls

The media's (and probably the public's) fascination with missing or dead young white women, preferably pregnant, is unsavory. Lots of women of color go missing, too. Lots of men of all races get killed. Lots of older women get killed. But the victims we hear about are young, pretty, white and female.

It is not likely that every single one of the "dead white girl" stories just happens to be one with national significance (though the most recent might be), and that all the stories where the murder victim or missing person was of another race or age or gender are not. And I very much doubt that young white women are more likely to be victims than every other demographic group.

That some tragic, horrible and sad stories are pulled into the limelight and other equally horrible, sad and tragic stories are not is a fact. To explain why this happens is much more difficult. I have had theories about this for some time (the Snow-White fairy tale myth, the "punish the uppity young women myth", the "man bites dog" explanation), but I'm beginning to lean a little bit more towards one specific explanation: these stories provide both generally accepted eye-candy and exciting violence. What do you think?

Added: I have more to say about the case of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach later. There are reasons why this horrible case deserves the limelight.