No Taming This Shrew


Damsels in Distress

There's a provocative post in my paper's editorial section today from Eugene Robinson called "(White) Women We Love," which is largely a response to the media coverage of the latest petite blonde who's gone missing -- this time in Aruba, for those who keep score. He's arguing that the media only covers white women in trouble.

An excerpt: "A damsel must be white. This requirement is nonnegotiable. It helps if her frame is of dimensions that breathless cable television reporters can credibly describe as "petite," and it also helps if she's the kind of woman who wouldn't really mind being called "petite," a woman with a good deal of princess in her personality. She must be attractive -- also nonnegotiable. Her economic status should be middle class or higher, but an exception can be made in the case of wartime (see: Lynch)."

I think he's right (although his snarky comment about the "princess" set my teeth on edge). I've always had a terrible cynical streak about the Amber alerts, mostly betting how tiny or fair haired the little girl would be (after hoping she's safe, for god's sake). This isn't a victim thing, it's a media thing. (By that I mean that I am in no way asserting that these women do not deserve attention or assistance -- I'm saying that we never hear about the others. The news makes that choice.) There are plenty of other women who are in danger but who are not "newsworthy." It's always, as Eugene says, the damsel in distress. Rapunzel in the tower, Sleeping Beauty in the palace, and so on. (This makes me especially surly after reading Alley Rat's excellent post at SRWU about the new weapon against rape in South Africa -- vaginal teeth. We're concerned about some chick on vacation in Aruba when women are being gang raped daily all over the place there. And that's just one country. And not even this country.)

So is Eugene speaking truth? If I'm kidnapped, will I get full page coverage and 24 hour CNN madness ("The Quest for Megarita!") while my asian, latina, black or simply brunette friends languish in terror? Heck, don't even ask about the larger ladies?!