Extract from Spiked
The obvious point is that fear of an event is no guide to the event's probability. The opposite is often true, that the rarer the event, the more shocking and so the more scare value. This is very true of the fear of Moslem terrorists felt today compared to the near nonchalance which greeted the almost weekly accounts of bombs, kidnaps and hijacks throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Of course then there were a lot more people alive able to bore to Olympic standards with their accounts of "Call that firecracker a bomb? Let me tell you about the real bombs the Luftwaffe used to drop on us ..."
Of course, the fact that people are scared, the fact that girls are frightened of what lies in the streets outside their homes, can’t simply be dismissed. There is little doubt that people are more fearful today in general. Moreover, there are incidents when people – young women included – are assaulted or robbed. The fear of such attacks is far from groundless.
But, be that as it may, virtually every index suggests that people have never been at less actual risk of attack. There may be a reason to fear, a reason to feel unsafe, but that does not make it rational. Take the recent findings of academics at Cardiff University, for example. They analysed the hospital data of 44 emergency departments across England and Wales and found that violence-related attendances had fallen over 15 per cent between 2001 and 2009 – that is, 410,000 versus the most recent figure of 350,010. Or take homicide figures, which are at their lowest level for over a decade. As Mick Hume pointed out on spiked, the UK has one of the lowest youth homicide rates on earth – 0.9 per 100,000 people aged 10 to 29 according to the World Report on Violence and Health. Even in that biggest of the UK’s big cities, London, the 160 murders in 2007 represented a fall for the fifth year in succession.
The report that Spiked is referring to is at two removes starting
Fear and violence plague girls in cities
Almost half of all girls living in the UK’s biggest cities feel unsafe walking around their neighbourhood after dark and 42 per cent know someone who has been assaulted, according to a new report by Plan UK.
The survey paints a stark picture of life for young girls in 21st century Britain with one in five aged 11-18 often feeling threatened by gangs and 17 per cent fearing that someone will assault them.
The survey is part of the 2010 Because I am a Girl report which examines the state of the world’s girls in cities across the developed and developing world.
The full publication, Digital and Urban Frontiers: Girls in a Changing Landscape, reveals that in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa 77 per cent of girls are afraid to walk through their neighbourhood after dark.
Fourteen per cent know of girls locally who have been raped and 50 per cent are scared that they will be raped in their own neighbourhood.
Plan’s Because I am a Girl ambassador Kathy Lette said: “Females have black belts in tongue-fu, we can give a man a good tongue lashing at ten paces but sadly that’s our only physical superiority over blokes.
“This latest research shows that girls in UK cities feel threatened and exposed to violence on a daily basis.
“And if it’s that bad in Britain imagine what it’s like for young women living in cities in the poorest parts of the world where they face harassment, rape and other violence every single day ensuring they end up as losers in the human race - surely it’s time we ended this sexism in the city.”
For a start, the headline is subtly but significantly wrong. There is nothing in the article to suggest that fear and violence plague British girls, but everything to suggest that fear of violence does. Furthermore, although the implication in articles of this sort is always that the violence comes from men, there is nothing apart from fear of rape (and is there any woman who has not at some time feared rape?) to suggest that it does so uniquely. Most young women know perfectly well that girls can be physically violent as well as driving each other to suicide with verbal harassment. We can also not that almost half ~ feel is another way of saying more than half ~ do not feel - which is not nearly so arresting.
The article's style is not just misleading but positively circular. It starts by talking about Addis Abbaba, the capital of one of the most benighted nations on the planet before jumping to the fears of British girls and extrapolating from that how girls must feel in other benighted places. But we do not know if perhaps the British girls feel afraid because it has been dinned into them just how appalling it is to be a girl in other places, and since they have no experience of those places, apply the same sense of fear to themselves. In fact, while it is strong on feelings the article is short on actual evidence to back them up, other than extrapolation from third-world countries.
This kind of article is usually considered Feminist. If it is, then it is a feminism so far removed from its modern 1960s and earlier origin as to be almost the opposite. There is nothing of the Women can do it attitude of the 1960s and everything of the earlier weaker sex that it replaced. "girls in UK cities feel threatened and exposed to violence on a daily basis" Boys don't? Is it possible that the girls expect a quite traditional deferential courtesy from boys that decades of insistence upon equality has lost them? They expect to be as assertive as boys, to be treated as equals by boys and not patronised as the tender gender, to be as sexual as boys.
Yet at the same time the implication is that while they have no intention of being the wilting violets they imagine their grandmothers or even great-grandmothers to have been back in the horror days of 1950s crinolenes and women being burnt at the stake for pregnancy out of wedlock, they give the impression of wanting the same kind of traditional exemptions from the negative aspects of equality. They are not going to be subject to the same casual violence and aggressive speech as is acceptable between boys and as protected as ever from sexual innuendo, though free to do all these themselves without boys taking them at face value as equals.
Far from encouraging equality which means also holding oneself as responsible for reactions as one holds others, the implications here imply a sad nostalgia for days when boys and men knew how to show their respect for a lady just because she was female, while rejecting all the requirements upon her that being a lady necessitated.