Ph.D. student Rebecca Lennox recently published ‘“There’s Girls Who Can Fight, and There’s Girls Who Are Innocent”: Gendered Safekeeping as Virtue Maintenance Work’ in Violence Against Women. Drawing on in-depth interviews with women residents of Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, the article investigates safety behaviours commonly practiced by women in public places, such as avoiding unlit spaces after dark. Showing that such strategies often paradoxically exacerbate women’s fear of violent crime, the article offers a new understanding of gendered safekeeping as a form of identity work that mitigates existential, rather than physical, threats in public places by marking women as risk-averse and thus above sexual reproach.
Rebecca is in her second year of the Ph.D. program in Sociology. Her doctoral research examines how race, class, and gender intersect to shape women’s embodied responses to police-produced gendered crime-prevention messaging in Canada. Rebecca’s research is supported by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, and a Doctoral Award from the Department of Canadian Heritage.
We have posted the citation and abstract of the article below. The full text is available here.
Lennox, Rebecca. 2021. “‘There’s Girls Who Can Fight, and There’s Girls Who Are Innocent’: Gendered Safekeeping as Virtue Maintenance Work”. Violence Against Women. Published online ahead of print you can read it here.
Women routinely practise taxing safety strategies in public, such as avoiding unlit spaces after dark. To date, scholars have understood these behaviors as means by which women bolster their physical safety in public. My in-depth interviews with women in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia suggest that, much less than reliably enhancing women’s safety, safety work often exacerbates women’s fear of violent crime and unreliably mitigates their exposure to violence. I thus interrogate the protective function of gendered safekeeping and reconceptualize women’s safety work as virtue maintenance work, theorizing that women practice risk-management in public places to attain the ontological security associated with evading subjectivities of gendered imprudence.