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A Geography of Men's Fear
Geoforum (2005)
  • Alec Brownlow

Men are at significantly greater risk than women to violent crime victimization in the U.S., especially in the public sphere. Despite this, their fears and vulnerabilities have received considerably less attention in recent social discourse than have women. Men’s risk in and fear of public space is overshadowed by their apparent fearlessness in public space. This paper begins to address this apparent paradox using the conceptual lenses of masculinity and control. I explore fear and fearlessness among men as objects and subjects of masculinity. Stated fearlessness among men is counterbalanced by a chronic fear of violent crime victimization. Conditioned fearlessness combines with actual risk and chronic fear to shape men’s experiences in the public sphere. I study the dynamics of men’s fear using data gathered from a group of young men and women in Philadelphia. Gendered differences in fear and how environments are perceived and judged as to their relative safety are demonstrated and explored. Compared to women’s fears and perceived geographical vulnerabilities, the men of this study demonstrate a persistent and chronic wariness of their environmental context that precedes any judgment of perceived safety. Violence and fear among both men and women in this study is further explained as a function of racism and economic marginalization.

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Citation Information
Brownlow, A. 2005. A Geography of Men's Fear. Geoforum 36:581-592.