Yesterday, I was asked whether I would be writing a blog post about the recent Doncaster murder of the 17 year old young woman, and the reaction surrounding what was a very haphazard comment made by an Inspector of the Victorian Police (I’ll go into more detail about it in a minute). My first reaction was “Oh no, no, if I commented on every legal matter that came my way I would be forever blogging.” The truth however was that I was afraid. I was afraid to dive into such an overwhelming topic like violence against women and the inability of the male population to see what a problem we have on our hands.
Me Quickly On Feminism
You see, I was never the “bra burning” feminist type. I have never actually considered myself (a) as a spokeperson at all; and (b) a spokeperson for my gender. I have always considered myself an “equalist”. That is, if you consider yourself to be equal to the other gender, then you will not have to fight for the right to be equal because you are automatically equal. In all of my years in the top echelon of corporate law, I never felt that I was treated (at least to my face) as being anything other than a corporate lawyer, rather than a female corporate lawyer. Perhaps I didn’t get high enough to hit the glass ceiling. But in all honesty, my logic about “equalism” is incredibly flawed and frankly, I really haven’t put much thought into it. I’ve always been too afraid to call myself a feminist. Why? Because I simply do not know what it means. I have a lot to learn in that area.
Violence Against Women
The one thing, however, that I am happy to remain unapologetic for is my stance about violence against women. I am more than happy to put myself into the category of the “bra burning, raging rad-fem” if it means we get the message out that we are seeing a pretty dire situation unfold in Australia where two women a week are dying of violence perpetuated against them by someone close to them. As we have seen this week, however, that our dire problem with domestic violence is just one piece of the problem when it comes to violence against women.
I was going to stay well out of it. I was going to just say my piece on Twitter and let it rest, UNTIL, this morning when I woke up to a series of tweets in my mentions from men claiming that they had been discriminated against, targeted by sexism, and hated on for being lumped into the category of men who ARE violent. Hashtag #NotAllMen.
The Jane Gilmore Post
It came about because I retweeted the incredibly marvelous Jane Gilmore (at @JaneTribune) and her powerful Facebook post that was later turned into a Hoopla article —> http://thehoopla.com.au/dont-dont-dont-get-killed/. It stated:
“Women, if you want to be safe, stay at home. Except you are likely to be killed at home by someone who claims they love you so don’t stay at home. Make sure you don’t have a boyfriend because he is the most likely person to kill you but don’t go out without your boyfriend because you need someone to protect you. Don’t show too much skin or laugh too loud or dance too much but come on love give us a smile. Carry your keys and your phoje at all time and make sure you run far enough to burn off all those calories but don’t do it in public and for gods sake dont run in shorts, that’s just asking for trouble. Public transport is dangerous, but so are taxis and walking and riving on your own and did I mention that staying at home is really risky so don’t do any of those things, ok?
Men, just carry on as you were, this is not your problem ok?
Jane’s post was in response to the death of 17 year-old Masa Vukotic, who was stabbed this week in suburban Doncaster, Melbourne, while taking a walk in a park in the early evening, less than a kilometre from her home.The following caused a stir:
“I suggest to people, particularly females, they shouldn’t be alone in parks,” Victorian Homicide Squad Inspector, Mick Hughes told Fairfax newspapers. “I’m sorry to say that is the case.”
Could it really be a male problem, asked the world of Twitter?
My notifications filled up with men angrily denying that they have ever been violent towards a woman.
Gentlemen, I will categorically state that YOU HAVE ALL MISSED THE POINT ENTIRELY.
You are not being violent. You have though, collectively, created an environment that ALLOWS men to be violent. Is this a really hard concept to grasp? Because apparently it is on Twitter. Hastag #NotAllMen.
While men are busily denying that they aren’t violent, they are busily pushing the narrative that needs to be had away from the male population in general, the missing narrative that is allowing violence against women to exist.
One Twit summed it up wonderfully by stating:
“@phantomdiorama: The thing about telling women to change their behaviour is it tells women who don’t are fair game.”
THIS IS IT IN A NUTSHELL.
This is the narrative that needs to be discussed. Instead of denying any responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in (where violence against women occurs on a daily basis in our homes, workplaces, social environements – and now public parks), why don’t we move the discussion towards the fact that women have been crippled by so much stigma, so many societal directives about how we SHOULD live our lives to avoid being harmed, that we have completely missed the part where we educate our men in society on how not to harm.
The more emphasis we place on curtailing the behaviour of the victim of crime, the more we are disempowering them. The more we tell women to not behave in certain ways, we are (like the above Twit stated) opening all of those women who fail to adhere to the Don’t Be A Victim Standards to being harmed because, well, they “asked for it” (welcome to the world of male entitlement, folk).
We cannot be a society where the emphasis is placed on “how to avoid crime”. The emphasis needs to be placed on how to “avoid being a criminal”. The reason for this is because is because it eradicates any personal accountability of a perpetrator of crime from actually committing the crime, thus increasing the likelihood of not only the perpetrator from committing further crime but also increases the likelihood of those around to the perpetrator to excuse the behaviour of the perpetrator and POSSIBLY, commit the behaviour themselves.
The frustrating thing about this is that it is not rocket science but human nature says that when the heat is placed upon us, the most instantaneous thing we can do is distance ourselves away from personal responsibility as quickly as possible. And Twitter, in its truest form, was a perfect example of this when I opened it up this morning.
My suggestions are as follows:
1. Stop blaming women for their actions.
2. Start adjusting male behaviour.
3. Start the conversation early with men.
4. Hey women, you’re not innocent either – stop excusing male behaviour.