While what happened to Eurydice Dixon has shocked the nation, this an everyday reality we women face. So don’t ask us to “be safe”.
My heart hurts, and I’m not alone. The shocking discovery of Eurydice Dixon’s body has left us reeling in its sheer naked senselessness.
Eurydice was 22 years old and by all accounts in, or just about to hit, the prime of her life when she was set upon by a man who is yet to be named by police. He is 19, had never met her before, and I’m assuming he just saw her walking home as an opportunity.
It’s horrific. It’s abhorrent. It’s petrifying.
This, sadly, is the society we live in, and history tends to repeat. For as long as I’ve been doing things as an adult female, I’ve walked with my keys propped between my fingers as a ready defence. I know women who carry their worst perfume in their bag as a makeshift mace in case of attack. I’m not alone in this. What is also common is the response. When tragedy strikes, the media outlets and government organisations remind women all the things they need to do to keep themselves safe.
Don’t go out alone. Don’t jog with headphones in, or if you do, keep the sound right down. Don’t dress too feminine. Don’t dress too skimpy. Keep your phone on you. Make sure people know where you are. Get your keys out before you leave an establishment so you’re not distracted. Don’t let your drinks out of your sight.
I could be here all night listing all the really good suggestions to ‘help’ women stay ‘safe’. The Age tweeted this earlier:
BREAKING: Police are urging people to take responsibility for their safety when walking alone in Carlton North, after a woman was found dead there overnight. “Make sure people know where you are and if you’ve got a mobile phone carry it.” https://t.co/PjmsInGSEs
— The Age (@theage) 13 June 2018
Interesting that it is somehow the victim’s fault for not being careful enough, and not the person who raped and murdered them. How infuriating.
Being a woman in Australia is frightful. We have extremely high instances of violence against us. Destroy The Joint has counted as of this week 30 women have been murdered by violence in Australia. Thirty.
Don’t talk to strangers. Go out with a male in your company for protection – but also be careful when you’re alone with men. Stick to well lit areas.
Sadly, what happened to Eurydice prompted bad memories of previous horrors we’ve lived through. I called Melbourne home during the time that Jill Meagher disappeared, I was 21 and living in a city 1200kms away from my family and most of my friends. I did most things alone, and that week was one of the most tense of my life.
Every morning I would wake up and listen to the radio, hoping for some kind of clue as to where she was, or who was responsible for her disappearance.
As the week got to Thursday and police were led to her body by her perpetrator, I felt a cavity in my chest. The next morning on the 64 tram into the city was one of the most morose moments I’ve ever experienced.
Nobody looked each other in the face for too long, and there was a literal separation of the genders on the tram.
It was unspoken but understood. The women didn’t feel safe and the men didn’t want to make them feel worse.
There are so many rules to being a woman and being allowed out on the street, rules that must be followed if you want come home that night. But because all of them are a part of our lives, it doesn’t make it any more terrifying.
Believe me, the danger is real. The danger is always real.
Being at work isn’t safe, Stephanie Scott proved that. Being a block from your home isn’t a sanctuary, Jill Meagher is a testament to that. Walking out the front of the school, filling up your car with petrol, being in a shopping centre or a well lit city street, it doesn’t matter because the fear is as real as the possibilities.
We need to focus on those who perpetrate these acts, not those who they harm.
Stop telling women we need to be safer when in everything we do, we are trying to live to see another day.