North Texas Daily

The unspoken gender gap: paranoia

The unspoken gender gap: paranoia

The unspoken gender gap: paranoia
April 14
13:00 2022

From tightly clasping our keys in between our fingers and faking phone calls when we pass a group of people outside, being a woman has become dangerous. Although many share the same experiences, this fear-inducing phenomenon is not talked about nearly enough.

A revolving door of news reports of unprovoked violent assaults on bystanders in public has become a societal norm, solidifying a culture of precaution and angst in the United States. We now find ourselves undergoing self-induced anxiety attacks when we’re out alone at night, and yet no one is questioning this behavior.

While women tend to feel more vulnerable in these situations, this is simply one societal gender discrepancy that has gone unaddressed. Research shows men benefit from a higher wage compared to women in similar roles and experience.

Despite every effort to close this gap, we still see significant wage discrepancies between men and women. While this issue is continually being battled, women have yet again been left with another discrepancy in the sense of safety and security in life that men have not.

Ironically, the Founding Fathers deemed it necessary to declare that it be the right of citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The right to life and liberty eloquently encapsulates the idea of comfort and relaxation as a basic human right.

The imbalance of the pursuit of happiness presents itself in the wage gap nationwide. The incongruity of life and liberty has gone unspoken for too long as women have been left constantly looking over their shoulders while their male counterparts enjoy their freedom, isolated from public anxiety. 

Although not as thoroughly studied and quantified as other gender disparities, there is empirical evidence displaying the inequity between men and women regarding felt levels of safety. In a survey conducted by legal firm Farah and Farah, it was shown that the general level of safety felt by men is consistently higher than that of women in nearly every setting.

Moreover, the precautions taken by women such as ensuring doors are locked or walking with keys in hand are heavily employed, whereas men rarely practice these measures. It is clear and irrefutable that there is a gap in the luxury and right to security and comfort felt between men and women.

The first and most apparent disparity between how assault and violent crimes are treated is through the media. News outlets disproportionately report on violent crimes against women when the assailant is a complete stranger. This facade supplements the issue that the majority of these violent crimes take place between those who know each other (domestic disputes).

Ultimately, the unbalanced reporting of assailants who are strangers has instilled a pseudo-anxiety in women when out in public, despite a higher rate of assault between people who know each other.

Given the topic, it is necessary to mention the societal effect that the surge in victim-blaming has had on women. Unfortunately, as the public awareness of violent crime against women rises, so has the level of invalidating accusations of victims of assault to the extreme of diverting blame back to the victim. This is furthered by recent events of nationally reported assault cases that have villainized the victim rather than the defendants, such as Christine Blasey Ford’s case against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The key contributor to the paranoia gap can be found in the data on violent crime offenses by gender. In 2020, the number of criminal victimization between men and women differed by only 30,000 out of nearly 4 million cases, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Despite nearly even victimization rates, 79.4 percent of these cases saw male offenders. Analyzing the disproportionate nature of these statistics, one fact is made clear: men are vastly responsible for inducing paranoia in society due to their majority ownership of committing violent crimes.

While it is indisputable that the disproportionate media coverage and victim-blaming are partly responsible for the enhanced level of anxiety among women, the primary agent can be attributed to the proportion of men committing these crimes. We must work to address the disparity in paranoia felt among women and men, providing equal opportunities for safety and comfort.

Therefore, it must be recognized that the solution lies in reforming the toxic masculinity that promotes and rewards physical aggression. Regardless of the gender of the victim, until men are able to reform their behavior and control their physicality, we can expect a continued downward spiral in the level of comfort women will feel in society.

Featured Illustration By J. Robynn Aviles

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Migchalee Gonzalez

Migchalee Gonzalez

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