Editorial: ‘Missing white woman syndrome’ in America


The ISD Editorial Board examines ‘missing white woman syndrome” and its effect on other cases of missing persons. 

Editorial Board

Editor’s Note: Editorials are representative of the views of all Editorial Board members. One or two members will compile these views and write an editorial.

Recently, murders have plagued our timelines — Gabby Petito and Mollie Tibbetts, to name a few. Their murders ring a sad and scary theme. White, beautiful women are going missing and the media gets caught in a frenzy. What happens if a Black woman goes missing? A man, a non-binary person, someone who does not fit societies ideal standards? 

Now, we are not saying that Gabby Petito and Mollie Tibbetts did not deserve recognition for their deaths. Their deaths are tragedies; we are mourning the loss of their lives along with their communities and those who loved them dearly. They deserved recognition for the senseless murders that caused their deaths, but doesn’t everyone who dies senselessly? 

We, as a society, should be enraged with how little coverage victims get in the news media. Victims regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation or religion all deserve a fair amount of coverage. They are, in fact, missing, which could lead to their death, just as we saw in both the cases of Mollie and Gabby. 

Have we turned crimes into a spectacle instead of what they actually are: crimes? How many true crime documentaries and podcasts are littering our feeds? Whether they are on Netflix, Youtube or Spotify, they exist and people are listening and watching. 

Unfortunately it seems our society has also fallen victim to ‘missing white woman syndrome’ which refers to media coverage of missing person cases that involve white, young and upper-middle-class women or girls as opposed to the lack of coverage for women who are of lower socioeconomic status, are not white or men and boys. Many people have gone missing and received a fraction, if any, of the attention that both Gabby Petito and Mollie Tibbetts cases received. 

Gabby and Mollie obviously deserved recognition. But so did these other victims whose names have faded into the wind and whose families have been tirelessly fighting for help in finding their loved one. This particular article is about ‘missing white woman syndrome’ and discusses other women who have gone missing. Do you remember any of the other victims? If the victims are not getting recognition, is it too late? Have we run out of time to help search for these missing women and children?

Resources and coverage should be more equally distributed. We need to be hearing and seeing all of the people going missing. If we do not know about these missing persons, how can they be recovered? More equality will hopefully lead to the finding of more missing persons in our country. All of these missing persons matter, not just the pretty, young and white women.