Gabby Petito and the “missing white girl syndrome”

Gabby Petito’s media coverage demonstrates how we ignore women of color.

Gabby Petito and the missing white girl syndrome

Sophie Zehner

Most women have dealt with some variation of sexism and harassment in their lifetime. Sexism and harassment go back for centuries, if not longer.  Though we have made some progress, through the “Me, too” movement, it still is not what it should be. 

The story about Gabby Petito and her estranged fiance made me think about how we focus on a white girl who goes missing or gets killed. Most call this “missing white girl syndrome.” But what about the other women?

Think about it, have news stations covered stories about a woman of color who went missing or was killed? Nine times out of ten, it has not happened. 

As we know, Gabby went missing in Wyoming, however, there are many Native American tribes scattered throughout the state. Women in these Native American tribes go missing and/or are kidnapped all the time, and no one knows about it because the media typically does not cover it. 

Things NEED to change. 

Though many may think everyone is equal, people in minority groups are not being treated equally. It is not unusual to see or hear about a man berating a woman of color, just because he can. This is seen everywhere and has been a normal thing for many years. 

I am not saying that we have not made progress, because we have. I mean, we have a woman of color as our vice president! 

However, this does not mean that all women are treated equally. People and the media NEED to think about women of color.

If a white woman gets murdered, news stations and the general public are all over the story, but they ignore the other women. Are their situations not as newsworthy as Gabby’s, or are they just being ignored? Are they not being treated as equally as we may think? 

If you are a woman of color or a different ethnicity, do you feel that you are being treated differently? Because if so, we need to bring this issue to the surface and educate others. Your voice matters too.

I am not saying that Gabby’s Petito’s situation is not important; everyone is important. What I am saying is that we need to focus on other women as well.