Why is it still women’s responsibility to prevent gendered violence?
By Amy Focic
CW: THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES SEXUAL ASSAULT AND RAPE
"Stop saying that not all men perpetrate violence and start saying that all men can do something about it."
Over the past few days, I have struggled to find the right words to articulate the crushing sadness and anger I have felt following the rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon.
I am not the first to have my thoughts about this heard, nor will I be the last. But the devastation that yet another woman has fallen victim to gendered violence is too much to bear.
My heart breaks for Eurydice Dixon. My heart breaks for her family and friends. Fore-mostly, her death was horrible and wrong and painfully distressing. And it is impossible to ignore the aftermath, because the way police have responded has resonated with far too many women.
“Take responsibility for your own safety.”
Let me make one thing very clear.
Women: it is not your responsibility to prevent rape and murder.
It is not your responsibility to prevent rape and murder.
Men, if you are reading this – it is your responsibility to not rape and murder women. No amount of victim-blaming changes where the onus lies. Because the statistics show that violence in Australia is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men, and the large majority of victims are women.
Sadly, women are familiar with the rebukes when we try to point out these facts.
“Oh, but it’s not all men, what about violence against men I bet you don’t even care about that, yeah but what if he was provoked, she was probably flirting with him then regretted it, you’ve gotta think about all these factors you know, who even knows if she’s telling the truth, yeah but you shouldn’t have been walking by yourself late at night.”
Not all men rape, but all men benefit from the patriarchal system that deems violence against women a woman's fault. Violence against men is an issue, yes, but don’t pretend to care about it just to shut a woman up when she voices an experience that makes you uneasy. And women know all to well the strategies they can use to prevent rape and violence, but if you do the maths, isn’t it fucking evident that this bandaid solution does nothing? Violence still disproportionately affects women. It seems to me it is pretty damn obvious where the responsibility of prevention should lie.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that a lot of men are feeling uncomfortable after being told that it is up to them to not rape and murder women. Because how often do we hear the ways in which women can just prevent it themselves?
Here’s the thing – men, it should make you uncomfortable. But it is not my job to ease this discomfort and make you feel better about yourself when this is what women have been doing since the beginning of time. I am angry, I am tired, and I am sick of women not being believed when they tell men about their experiences.
Men need to use this discomfort to do something about gendered violence. Stop telling women how to prevent being sexually assaulted and start calling out jokes that normalise rape. Stop getting automatically defensive on behalf of all men and actually listen to women when they voice their experiences. Stop saying that not all men perpetrate violence and start saying that all men can do something about it.
Amy is a 19 year old budding writer from Newcastle, living in Sydney. She is passionate about all things feminism, mental health and being a Novocastrian.
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