Before I launch into my little spill, let me make a few things perfectly clear:
- The single biggest cause of death in women in the world is a man. This needs to change.
- Men (and women) who rape, abuse or assault women (or anyone for that matter) need to be dealt with to the harshest extent of the law. I’ll leave discussion on capital punishment to another time but suffice to say there is a limited amount of oxygen and water in this little world of ours, and I believe we should not waste either of them on those kinds of people.
- It is never the fault of the victim, whether woman, man, child, animal, mineral or vegetable. It's NOT the victim's fault.
- There needs be a serious cultural shift in order to minimise such violence.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk a little bit about reality, common sense, responsibility and personal safety.
Fact or Fiction?
In order to understand why we can’t eliminate rape, murder and other such behaviours completely, we need to understand some of the realities of human nature and the world we live in.
We need to understand that there are different types of violence. Let’s have a look:
- Social violence: this is the kind of violence that happens whenever there are a lot of humans in close proximity. Spoiler alert – this means pretty much everywhere you will go in the world. Think of the drunk at the pub, or the screaming football fan, etc. You will often see this kind of violence erupt where there are lots of males and alcohol and/or drugs. A couple of things about social violence:
a. If you keep your wits about you and don’t make stupid choices, you can often avoid it. Don’t let your ego dictate your actions.
b. Where mind-altering substances are involved, such as alcohol and drugs, no amount of education will eliminate violent behaviour completely.
c. Laws and authorities are often an effective deterrent, as this violence is caused by 'normal' people (i.e. not mentally ill, etc.)
d. With much education, a massive cultural shift and given enough time, we may be able to reduce this type of violence.
- Antisocial violence: now we move into the realm of sociopathic and psychopathic behaviour. People with these tendencies will always exist, and no amount of social conditioning, education or warm-fuzzies will eliminate this completely. I’ve read a variety of statistics on this, with different research I’ve found shows anywhere from 1-5% of the human population falling under one of those headings. You can’t talk your way out of being raped and murdered by a psychopath and you can’t teach a psychopath to feel empathy. Simply put, these people will always be out there.
Let’s put this into context. The monster who raped and murdered Eurydice Dixon belongs, in all likelihood, to the latter. He did not know her, which likely indicates he was on the prowl and he targeted Eurydice because he felt she would make for easy prey. If it wasn’t her, there’s a very real chance it would have been someone else.
Now that we understand these two types of violence, hopefully we can agree that eliminating violence completely (whether against women or not) is impossible.
If, at this point, you feel the need to argue otherwise then I encourage you to think with your head, not heart, about what is, not what you’d like there to be. It’s called 'Reality' and it’s where we all live.
Welcome to the real world, kids.
Now let’s look at a few other relevant points of information.
How many of you lock your door when you leave your house, have an alarm in your home or car, and/or have home and contents insurance? My guess would be 99% of the people reading this.
This means you are actively taking steps to protect your property.
How many of you wear seatbelts or have health insurance? Again, I would wager 99% of the people reading this.
This means you are actively taking steps to protect your health.
If you are driving drunk, while looking at your phone and not wearing a seatbelt, you are more likely to die in a car accident than if you were driving sober, looking at the road and wearing a seatbelt.
Can we agree on this?
This statement does not imply that you deserve to die in a car accident. It does not imply that if a car accident were to happen, it would be your fault.
What it does imply is that if you were taking steps to minimise the risk of a car accident, you may have a better chance to identify a potential accident in advance and avoid it, or even reduce the severity of the injuries you might sustain in such an accident.
Let’s apply the same logic here.
If you learn how to spot potential predators, understand situational awareness and have some basic knowledge of self-defence, you are less likely to be targeted by those who wish to do harm to others. This is a statistical fact, backed by tons of research and evidence (ask me for references, happy to send).
This statement does not imply that you deserve to be attacked. It does not imply that if, god forbid, you are raped then it’s your fault. But it does mean that you can reduce the chance of something happening by taking some small steps towards personal safety.
It’s also important to note that the steps I mentioned above are not unreasonable or irrational. I’m not saying that as a woman you should live in a bunker and only step out with an armed male escort. All I’m suggesting is that with very little effort or expenditure you can take steps to maximise personal safety.
Maybe one day the world will be a place where we don’t have to. But it isn’t, and even if it will get there, it’s a long, long way off. Until then, deal with reality. And the reality is that the world is getting more dangerous, not less.
Oh No… There’s more!
A day after the horrible incident, someone on social media posted something to the effect of ‘as a woman, I understand how Eurydice must have felt. I’ve had guys wolf whistle at me while walking home and it was terrifying. Men must change, it’s unfair, etc.’
The next post by the same person, 15 minute later, was a picture of what she ate for breakfast with some statement about how life goes on and we must enjoy what we have. The general vibe was ‘I’ve done my bit to contribute to the safety of women’. Now that you posted about it, rapists have been defeated and you can forget about this and not change a thing. Until the next horrible crime happens, at which point you can act suitably shocked again, post on social media again, and so on.
The audacity of that person to claim she understands how Eurydice must have felt overwhelms me with anger. How dare you?!
Let’s go back to the driving example again… how many of your reading this, especially those who shout ‘victim blaming’, looked at your phone while driving recently? Even more to the point, how many of you were on social media reading or commenting about this crime while driving?!
I’d bet my bottom dollar that there would have been more than one car accident over the past week (maybe even resulting in death?) where someone crashed a car while engaged in a social media discussion of this topic. If that’s the case, then maybe you need to look at your own behaviour before you start throwing barbs at others. Back to the point...
It’s great that you are willing to take time out of your day to raise awareness of an important issue and to express solidarity (no, I'm not being sarcastic). But let’s face it, sharing stuff on Facebook does sweet F$#& all to change anything. It does nothing to solve the problem.
Are you really shocked? Really want to make a difference? Then get off Facebook (read ‘ass’) and try some of the following:
- Spend a bit of time volunteering at a women’s shelter, suicide hotline or education programs
- Volunteer for your neighbourhood watch, crime stoppers, etc.
- Do some reading on sexual predators to understand how they think and act, and/or take a self-defence class
- Once you have, share what you learned with your friends, mum, sister, daughter, etc.
- Volunteer to be a designated driver once in a while so your friends don’t have to walk home drunk at 3am
Perhaps if poor Eurydice was taught these things she may have noticed the guy following her for a considerable amount of time. Maybe she would have taken a different path home or stopped at a petrol station to ask for help. Maybe she would have waited in a lit area and called someone to pick her up. Maybe she would have called the police. Maybe she would have had the tools to deal with the physical attack when it happened. Maybe it could have been prevented. Maybe not, but maybe it could have. And maybe if it wasn't her, it would have been someone else on the same night.
Let’s recap quickly:
- Violence against women is inexcusable (and so is violence in general), and we, as a society, need to do what we can to minimise this. This will take a long, long time. Better start now!
- Until that day, and even after, the world we live in will always have people seeking to harm others. That being the case, we should do what we can to learn about maximising our personal safety.
- To throw away all reason and to assume that safety is a God-given right is ludicrous. Just as suggesting that to take responsibility for one’s safety is victim blaming is ludicrous.
- We need both! We need to make a change, and we need to be responsible for our safety at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.
- If you have a cause that you feel strongly about, such as the one discussed here, get out there and do what you can within your sphere of influence to make a change.
- Don’t use your phone when driving!
I have recently become a father to a beautiful girl. I’d like this world to be safe for her and the thought of what Eurydice’s parents are going through breaks my heart. I want my daughter to grow up in a world where she can be safe walking home at 3am. I want her to be able to go out partying with friends and not worry about getting home safely or groped in a club or being called a slut for wearing whatever she likes. And I will continue to fight for that to be possible (and yes, I am active in doing so).
But at the same time, I want her to learn responsibility for her safety. I want her to know that bad things can happen to good people and that making poor choices can have bad consequences, even though she doesn’t deserve it. Lastly, I want her to have the tools, know-how and courage to know that if some guy tries to harm her, she needs to kick his ass, and no mistake.
In the next post, I will discuss some basic environmental awareness and safety tips that we can all use, and have saved lives before. I’d like to end this with a question to those shouting ‘victim blaming’:
If I gave you 5 easy safety tips that have the potential to save your life, would you take 10 minutes to read them and implement those changes, or would you rather risk going through what poor Eurydice Dixon went through? Which do you think she or her parents would have prefered?
I wish Eurydice Dixon’s parents, family and friends find peace and strength.
Stay safe, stay tuned.