With Ferguson, Ayotzinapa and fraternity gang rapes in the news, an activist friend suggested a common thread. Here is an edited version of her cogitations.
“Recently I read a reference to a study about fear and gender differences that I read roughly 20 years earlier. Different populations around the world were asked what they feared most. The highest fear for men was being ridiculed or laughed at. For women, it was being killed or raped.
Personal history. When I walked Mexican summer streets in my 20’s, whistles, catcalls, and smart remarks from two or more males clustered together were standard; the same behavior from a lone guy was rare. Was harassing women with witnesses a juvenile rite of passage, branding a boy too brave to be ridiculed?
Ferguson. Would Michael Brown have confronted the cop if he had been alone? Was he unconsciously showing off for his smaller friend as he had just intimidated a smaller storekeeper?
Iguala/Ayotzinapa. If the mayor of Iguala ordered the cops to “disappear” the 43 students in order not to have his wife’s speech disrupted, was fear of ridicule a factor? Were the cops asserting their right to be taken seriously?
Fraternity rapes. Showing off to the brothers so as not to be considered wimpy?
These crimes are extreme examples of “avoiding ridicule,” and I am not suggesting there is any excuse for murder. But exposing a sick dynamic is a step towards sanity.”
Georgeann Johnson, activist and commentator
photo by Georgeann Johnson