Alexander J. Frangie
There are two main reasons the murder of Gabby Petito reached the top of the
national headlines. One, the level of documentation via her social media pages and
recordings of a domestic disturbance between Petito and Laundrie at a motel in Moab, Utah
caught on police dashcams before her death. Two, the overlying factor connecting this case
with similar cases that gained national coverage known as Missing White Women Syndrome.
Missing White Woman Syndrome is a relic of the American caste system and is in
reference to the media coverage of missing-persons cases involving young, white upper
middle-class women or girls. The root cause of White Woman Syndrome is gender and racial
discrimination and stereotypes of young white Christian women being depicted as pure,
clean, nurturing, and gentle, and other ethnic, racial, gender, and cultural groups, and social
classes as violent, brutal savages. As humans continue to remove artificial social barriers that
separate us all from the fact that we are all humans, we must take steps to ensure that
no person, whatever their background, can be taken for granted and deserve life not to be
taken or exploited by others and veer away from long-outdated stereotypes of others.
People who rally behind Gabby Petito don’t bat an eye or acknowledge the dozens of
Native American women who often disappear in groups representing the largest majority of
victims in sex trafficking rings, raped and murdered in the wilderness even within the same
area where the remains of Gabby Petito were discovered.
One of the most prominent effects of Missing White Woman Syndrome is the
creation of laws named in the memory of those who went missing and were murdered. Most
notably, Caylee Anthony whose death led to the passing of Caylee’s law. Although tragic,
similar scenarios occur every day, the only difference is that the majority of missing and
murdered people are at the bottom of America’s caste system and the few at the top get the
most coverage and attention therefore the most amount of resources put into their
Gabby Petito and many other missing women never intended their names to
be soiled by becoming part of the ongoing problem of discrimination in the United States
and around the world. Missing White Woman Syndrome is proof humans have not come
far from right-wing discriminatory ideologies. It is important to acknowledge no matter the
age, or gender, all people are potential targets for violence by other human beings.