Women's Right to Self Defence
Australian society was shook by the recent rape and murder of 22 year old Eurydice Dixon in June, while walking home late after work. It has started a big discussion about the safety of women in Australia, and what needs to change in order for women to feel safe to live their lives. Local Superintendent David Clayton said, when her body was found and even before an arrest was made, that people needed to take responsibility for their own safety. He was implying, as I admit I also thought upon hearing about this terrible crime; was it reasonable for any women to think it was safe to walk home, after 12 pm alone, for what was reported as a 7 km walk? In a perfect world the answer should be an unequivocal yes for everybody, but it is a risk I would never consider taking myself, in our current world.
Our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said about this case; "what we must do as we grieve, is ensure that we change the hearts of men to respect women" from an early age. The Opposition Leader Bill Shorten added "It's about deciding as a nation that violence against women is ultimately preventable.' In reality however, taking responsibility for your own safety may actually need to become a woman's full time career, as more than 80% of offenders of murders and violent crimes, are men!
Clementine Ford, a journalist from 'The Age' in Melbourne strongly suggested in her article "Don't let Eurydice Dixon's Death be a Cautionary Tale'; that it should not be up to women to modify their behaviour, in order to not end up a victim to men's rage and aggressive acts. She firmly believes it is societies job to dismantle misogyny and change the attitude expressed daily towards women, that men are superior. She correctly asks:
"As a society, why are we not more collectively interested in figuring out why so many men seem to hate women so much that violence meted out by their hands is such a common story for so many of us?"
This attitude, however, did not spring up overnight, but rather it has been insidiously and deliberately cultivated and manipulated by men, laws and the media throughout time, hell bent on welding power in our world and controlling every aspect of women's lives. I personally believe that men know that women are unique in their ability to create life, nurture, love and courageously make a home out of anything, in order to keep their family together and ensure its survival. This reality, is so far from the image we often see of women as weak, silly, frivolous people, obsessed by fashion, make up and how skinny we are. In many countries women are thought to be incapable or not important enough to get an education, have a meaningful career, drive a car, go out unaccompanied by a man, get equal pay compared to men and worthy of important positions of leadership.
It is as much our job today to change this attitude towards women, as it is to be realistic and to protect women from the imminent danger that we face every day. We do this knowing that dismantling century old beliefs and conditioning of male superiority and unjustified rights, will take some time to achieve. With this understanding, I find it perplexing that female Green Senators would blast the idea that was proposed in the senate that women be 'allowed' to carry mace or a stun gun for their own self defense.
According to an article written in 'The Australian Tribune' on 28th June 2018 'Senate shoots down women's rights to self defense', Senator Fraser Anning from Katter's Australia Party, moved a motion in the senate on the 27th June, calling for the government to relax import laws for tasers, pepper spray and mace, in response to horrific crimes against women. Why any women would argue against this I actually just cannot understand, with the only potential winner being the next man planning on committing such a heinous crime such as what happened to Eurydice Dixon. They appeared to let the theoretical argument over right and wrong, get in the road of real time protection for women now, while we continue in earnest to change attitudes of men towards women.
I do however, agree completely with Clementine Ford who said:
"The narrative of prevention as women's responsibility, does nothing to stop sexual violence and homicide. At best, all it might do is direct that rage towards someone else."
"Like many women, I'm scared to live in a world where we can't walk home at night without wondering if it might be the last time- but I'm not as scared of this as I am knowing that the world itself seems content to make that our problem."and finally
"The people who have the power to change things, think it is easier to keep women afraid, than it is to make men accountable."
Rest in Peace Eurydice and all the Wonderous Women taken too early, raped or abused at the hands of an out of control man, who feels consumed with anger and entitled to do so. We deserved so much more love and respect than this for all that we do. It is time that we remind men of this fact everyday, everywhere; until they remember the truth. That men and women were born equals, to love and support each other.