Hope you weren’t tired of reading about how women risk being raped if they wear short skirts in public. Today, a front-page story in the New York Times reports that the victim-blaming trope trotted out in response to rape cases in Indonesia and India also has a grip on the United States. At least in Williston, North Dakota, where an oil boom brought “droves” of young men to its labor-intensive, high-paid jobs, upsetting the region’s gender balance and leaving women feeling unsafe and harassed.
One recently divorced waitress said her mother and stepfather have advised her to stop wearing skirts and heels so she doesn’t stand out. She told the Times she will leave soon, because "there’s no money in the world worth not even being able to take a walk." Many other women told reporter John Elgion that they also felt unsafe. Some "could not even shop at the local Walmart without men following them through the store." One woman complained about being eyed like she was a piece of meat; another told of being grabbed and dragged away by two men as she was walking to her car, until a third man driving by in a truck stopped and scared them off.
A deputy state’s attorney confirmed that there has been an increase in domestic and sexual assault, which was attributed to the influx of men. “There are people arriving in North Dakota every day from other places around the country who do not respect the people or laws of North Dakota,” Ariston E. Johnson, the deputy state’s attorney in neighboring McKenzie County, told the Times in an e-mail.
The story is reminiscent of the demographic discourse prompted by the gang-rape of a 23-year-old Indian student last year. In October, the Times warned that “India has a glut of young males, some unemployed, abusing alcohol or drugs and unnerved by the new visibility of women in society.” As the world was made aware (again) of the shocking commonness of rape in India, Time, The Atlantic, and others began to note that India’s 2011 census had revealed the most skewed gender ratio since India’s independence. (Some linked this to a preference for male children and selective-sex abortion.) In the same year, the number of cases of women raped rose by 9.2 percent and kidnapping were up 19.4 percent, The Atlantic reported. No one was prepared to link the two trends definitively, but Unnatural Selection author Mara Hvistendahl told Time that “it is clear from historical cases and from studies looking at testosterone levels that a large proportion of unmarried men in the population is not a good thing.”
(Except, possibly, for sex workers. Williston’s strip clubs and bars attract dancers and prostitutes from around the country for its growing population of cash-rich, lonely guys. Those men, meanwhile, are treating non-working women like they’re for sale. One woman told the Times her girls' night out was interrupted by a proposition from a stranger: "$3,000 to strip naked and serve them beer at their house while they watched mixed martial arts fights on television.")
Hvistendahl stressed that more studies needed to be done, and the connection between male-skewed population and crime against women is still a “correlation, not causation,” situation. Add the correlation between what’s going on in India and what’s going on in Williston to the list.
Most Viewed Stories
Bernie Sanders Wore the Only Appropriate Outfit to Trump’s Inauguration
Kellyanne Conway Goes With a Subtle Look for the Inauguration
15 Protest Sign Ideas for the Women’s March on Washington
The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for the Women’s March
Here’s the Official List of Speakers for the Women’s March on Washington
Thousands of Women Are Descending Upon Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March
Everyone Is Handling This Week Differently
The Complicated, Controversial, Historic, Inspiring Women’s March
Tiffany & Co. Unveils New Collaboration With NYPD: Branded Barricades by Trump Tower
This Conspiracy Theory Will Change How You Feel About the Bachelor Villain
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.