Ladies of Langdon: the Safety and the Perception of Gendered Spaces
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A popular downtown residential neighborhood in Madison, WI, Langdon Street is home to many of the University of Wisconsin's fraternity and sorority houses. This article examines how women's experiences on Langdon Street, an inherently gendered space, influence their behavior and perceptions of safety. The authors examined through a lens of feminist geography how Langdon St. is experienced differently among sorority women. The authors critically examined Langdon St. and women's experiences through landscape observations, interviews, and both qualitative and quantitative survey data. The results show there is an overwhelming sense of community among the Greek residents that does not always extend to non-Greek members of the neighborhood. Interviews and surveys also highlighted a consensus among female Langdon residents that there is a need for improvements made to the neighborhood to enhance a sense of security. The gender divide is developed through differing social expectations of fraternity men and sorority women, and by normally accepted gender constructs within the Greek system. The women of Langdon St. are victims to a society that normalizes fear and encourages women to take extra precautions when in urban settings rather than placing emphasis on violence reduction. Although the sense of community helps to alleviate these fears, in the case of the Greek system, separation from the rest of the neighborhood causes sorority women to label non-Greeks as outsiders they should be fearful of.
Includes Tables, Illustrations, Maps, Photographs, Graphs, Appendices and Bibliography.