If visitors from another planet studied American culture in the 21st Century, they’d be struck by our national obsession with missing women, says Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson. Six years ago, fefore terrorists struck the twin towers, it was the search for Washington intern Chandra Levy that riveted our attention. Now the nation is transfixed by yet another missing mom melodrama — this one starring Jessie Davis, a pregnant Ohio woman who went missing June 13 and whose body was found Saturday.
The missing woman epic achieved its apotheosis in the saga of Laci Peterson, who vanished on Christmas Eve 2002. To the uncritical viewer, the lessons of this ever-repeating story line are clear. Supposedly, no woman, whatever her age, marital status, or economic circumstances, is safe from the sudden eruption of male homicidal rage. Dickerson says he doesn’t mean to belittle the reality of domestic violence, or to deny the mind-numbing, bet-your-house regularity with which male attackers turn out to be responsible for any female disappearance. The media’s preoccupation with white women who die at the hands of white men belies some of the most enduring realities of homicide in America: Men are murdered more than three times as often as women. Blacks are murdered about six times as often as whites. While men kill women about three times as frequently as women kill men, two out of every three homicides are male-on-male killings.