The Missing White Girl Syndrome’: disappeared women and media activism
The mainstream media play a vital role in constructing certain endangered young women as valuable ‘front-page victims’, while dismissing others as disposable. In this essay, I examine the techniques that activists can use to challenge media stereotypes of ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ victims. Drawing on examples from the USA, central America, and Europe, I offer three practical methods for engaging in feminist media activism: the ‘diagnostic’, to provide a cultural vocabulary for unveiling and resisting media biases; the ‘theatrical’, to revive the lives of disenfranchised bodies in the public imagination; and the ‘archaeological’, to dig proactively for the human stories that have been buried beyond the margins.
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