On Tuesday night, Eurydice Dixon, 22, finished work and walked home. She lived close to her place of employment, so walking was the logical way to get home rather than trying to negotiate inner city roads and parking.
While she walked, Eurydice messaged a friend to let them know she was nearly home. Once again, an advisable thing to do if you are a woman and out alone, after dark.
“I’m almost home safe, HBU [how about you],” she messaged Toby Magnuson on Facebook just after midnight, according to the Fraser Coast Chronicle.
Then, at some point after that, she was raped and murdered in Princess Park, Carlton, allegedly by a man who thought it was okay to do so because she was a lone woman walking home late at night.
I mean, how dare she?
How dare Eurydice try to make a living as a comedian? How dare she decide to walk home after dark? And, how dare she think it was okay to assume her own safety?
When Eurydice walked to her job in Carlton earlier in the day, she likely didn’t suspect this would be the last safe walk she would ever take.
Or, maybe she did.
See, that is the problem for women who venture out into the world on their own. Their surroundings, their presentation, and their own safety are always on their minds.
When a woman walks down the street, or takes a jog, or gets into their car alone, there is always the unconscious thoughts regarding safety. Keys are held at the ready just in case a man attacks. Headphones are worn — but only one, so a woman can hear anything out of the ordinary. Back seats and hidden nooks are cautiously checked to make sure no hidden danger lurks there.
And yet, all of this is done quietly, unobtrusively, just in case the men around them realize women are perpetually scared. Because women also have to be aware of their behavior. How many times have you smiled when you didn’t want to, or assessed another person’s behavior before curtailing your own in order to placate?
As Nina Funnell points out in her article in News.com.au, men usually have no idea to the extent that women are so fearful. Every. Single. Day.
“Some years ago, I ran an exercise with young men and women. I asked the men to write on the whiteboard what they did every day to avoid being sexually harassed or assaulted.
“I then asked the women what they did every day to avoid being sexually harassed or assaulted.
“Mad scribbling ensued.
“‘I cover my drinks at bars.’
“‘I sit in the backs of taxis.’
“‘I walk the long way home because it’s better lit.’
“‘I thread my keys between my fingers like Wolverine when walking through carparks.’
“‘I sit with other women on trains.”
“‘I try not to dress for attention.’
“And on and on it goes. Women are surprised to realize the extent to which they have internalized sexual threat as an omnipresent white noise in their life.”
And, for those that suggest women should stay home at night, that home is safer for them than dark streets, as Women’s Agenda points out, home is the most dangerous place for a woman. A study conducted by the government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has shown that at least one woman dies every week at the hands or a current or former partner. On top of that, one in six Australian women are “victims of sexual violence from a current or former partner whom they lived with since the age of 15.”
So, as you can see, this is a prevalent issue that isn’t going away merely by telling women to have situational awareness.
BuzzFeed addressed the topic by creating a multitude of “Everyday things women do that men don’t have to worry about,” in order to demonstrate just how much women have to consider their own safety every day. Many women have pointed out a plethora of other ways in which women try to stay safe.
Once it was announced that Eurydice Dixon was raped and murdered, police did the usual thing. They advised women to be more careful.
The man who is alleged to raped and murdered Eurydice Dixon later turned himself into police. As News.com.au has pointed out, his family are “as appalled as the rest of society.”
Jason Todd, the father of accused murderer, Jaymes Todd, has also extended his condolences to Ms. Dixon’s family, noting he hasn’t seen his son since the brutal attack. Already, there has been the discussion of Jaymes being on the autism spectrum as another way to justify his behavior. Yes, this could have been a contributing factor. However, this is not Eurydice’s fault, this is the fault of a country that has little support for those with mental illness.
Police immediately made a statement to women to “make sure that you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings, and make sure that people know where you are.” They also advised women to carry a mobile phone and to call police if they are ever concerned about a situation.
Of course, Eurydice Dixon did have a mobile and she did use it. And yet, a man still raped and murdered her.
Yes, women should be more careful. In fact, everyone should be more careful. However, as News.com.au pointed out, the rape and murder of a woman are treated vastly different to, say, a school shooting or a terrorist attack. In those instances, the victims are not told they should have stayed home or avoided the place that was attacked. Instead, the community is told to stay strong and to not give perpetrators the upper hand by showing your fear.
However, when a woman is raped or murdered, women are told they should not have traveled alone at night, or gotten so drunk, or not worn what is deemed suggestive clothing.
The next time something like this happens, it would be nice if the first thing authorities said was, “Men, this is not appropriate behavior and society, as a whole, does not accept this behavior anymore,” instead of victim shaming women into thinking the rape or murder was somehow their fault.
Because make no mistake, it is never a woman’s fault when she is raped.
Next time this happens, women would like to see a change in perspective.
We would like to see officials calling out men for their actions in an effort to initiate change. Already, Australia has television advertisements telling men that domestic violence against women is not okay. This is an excellent starting point and one that needs to be expanded on now so that Eurydice’s death is not just another worthless death to add to the pile of women who took a risk and decided to act like a man and walk home at night after dark.
Also, instead of drawing conclusions and using a multitude of exceptions to excuse a man’s behavior, thus perpetuating victim blaming on behalf of the woman, why not keep the conversation going about how unjustified it is that women have to feel so unsafe doing everyday activities. Whether a man was on the spectrum, or broke up with his girlfriend, or couldn’t get a girlfriend, or, even just had a bad day, should not be reasons to allow the continuation of victim blaming. There will always be exceptions and excuses in every case. However, while victims are continuing to be blamed, there is no constructive movement forward to make the world a safer environment for women.
For those men who immediately start complaining that hashtag “NotAllMen” are the problem and that women should make that abundantly clear in their rage at the unfairness of it all, please be aware that this is a part of the problem. No, not all men are the issue. Many men are genuinely good guys and are desperately trying to help rectify the situation. However, next time this conversation comes up, why not use your energies to support women. If you see a man being abusive to a woman, if you see a man cat-calling or telling a girl to smile, or any of the other multitudes of ways in which women are abused in the name of a “lark,” or because that is how society has conditioned men and women to behave with each other, please stop the behavior in its tracks.
All it takes is for good men to tell misbehaving and dangerous men that their behavior is no longer acceptable in today’s society. That women have the right to walk where they want, to wear what they want, to have an opinion without the threat of violence against them.
Please, this is all that women ask.