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Ordinary Fear: Women, Violence, and Personal Safety (From Violence Against Women: The Bloody Footprints, P 155-164, 1993, Pauline B. Bart, Eileen Geil Moran, eds. - See NCJ-143961)

NCJ Number
E A Stanko
Date Published
10 pages
This discussion of women's personal safety and fear of crime notes that women's encounters with any man inside or outside the home can be dangerous and that the dilemma for women is to be able to sort out the dangerous men from the safe men.
Women report fear at levels that are three times those of men, yet their recorded risk of personal violence is lower than men's. Some have suggested that women's fear of crime is rooted in their anxiety about the consequences of rape. However, criminologists ignore the atmosphere of sexual threat that women experience and the ordinary situations that women encounter, such as receiving sexual comments, because these annoyances are assumed to be minor events and not real crime. Conventional criminality may err in not recognizing that women's fear of crime is in many respects women's fear of men. Feminist studies indicate that the reality of sexual violence is a core component of being female and is experienced through a wide range of everyday situations. Women gather many kinds of information about potential personal danger and generally take more safety precautions in their everyday lives than do men. Women also report a range of sexually frightening incidents when they were children. Thus, women's lives rest on a continuum of danger. However, their safety is not just a matter of avoiding the potentially dangerous stranger; their relationships with known men should be grounds for even greater precautions. Fear reduction and crime prevention programs aimed at reassuring and advising women about their safety in public are flawed; women's anxiety about the possibility of violence and their concern about devising the correct strategy persists. Notes and 40 references


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