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The Knowns and Unknowns

Molly Jong-Fast, The Daily Beast: “Gabby Petito is one of the thousands of women who disappear each year, as nearly three women are murdered every day in America by their romantic partners, but unlike almost all of those women she has become front page news and, in her disappearance and possible death, a sort of human Rorschach test: a meme, a hashtag, a social media moment and movement. Gabby Petito’s hashtag was searched 268 million times on TikTok. In the same area that Gabby Petito disappeared, 710 indigenous people – mostly girls – disappeared between the years of 2011 and 2020 but their stories didn’t lead news cycles, internet sleuths didn’t clog Instagram and Twitter trying to solve the mystery of their disappearances.”

“Personally, I find it more than a little infuriating that those 710 people didn’t get the same attention as this white, model-thin 22-year-old who’d been documenting her travels through Utah’s national parks in a white van with her boyfriend on Instagram… While much remains unknown, many of us know what we feel. On Facebook a woman wrote, ‘We all know a Gabby Petito or we’ve been her. Stuck in an abusive relationship with a man who continues to make us feel crazy or look crazy.'”

“There are thousands of comments like that across social media – and at least as many internet sleuths trying to solve the case ahead of the FBI and other legal authorities. That doesn’t always end well, as we’ve seen again and again. However this story turns out, I hope that people following it begin to take ‘ordinary’ abuse of women seriously, and the disappearances of women that happen all too often. And that law enforcement and civilians alike stop and seriously consider how much more interest there is in solving crimes when they involve attractive white women.”

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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