Women are not to blame for violent attacks, on the street or in the home

The news of Jill Meagher's death has rightly distressed many Australians. However, much mainstream media and internet commentary have taken this as an opportunity to blame the victim for what happened to her in an effort to warn other women. This approach is both despicable and wrong.

Melbourne writer Clementine Ford addressed this in her Daily Life piece, "Can we please stop the victim blaming?"

She said: “Some folk are still relishing the opportunity to remind women that if they don’t want anything bad to happen to them, they should be more careful about drinking/staying out late/talking to strangers who aren’t their husbands/wearing suggestive clothing/walking while female/having a vagina in the first place."

Ford said women already take measures to ensure their safety when they leave the house. She tweeted on Sept 27: "I have never met a single woman without a tip or tale about how she protects herself. Stop telling us to be more careful: YOU DON'T KNOW."

To prove this, she started the hashtag #PrecautionaryTales for women to share their methods, to which hundreds responded with stories of texting taxi driver IDs to a friend and carrying keys as weapons between their fingers.

In a comment widely shared around social media on September 28, Green Left Weekly journalist Tim Dobson said: "That people will conclude from Jill Meagher's disappearance that women should not walk home alone, rather than men shouldn't rape, assault or murder women is indicative of so much that is wrong in our sexist society.

"Justice for Jill would mean all women at all times should be able to walk down any street without threats, harassment or violence directed towards them. It's what we all need to keep fighting for."

As a society, instead of telling women what to wear, how to behave and what to avoid, we need to get a lot better at teaching men not to rape, and that any sexual and other violence against women is not OK.

This does not mean more police and CCTV cameras on the streets to "protect women" and reprimand offenders, and in fact this approach means less safety for women. The low level of convictions in sexual assault cases shows that police presence does little to deter offenders.

Instead, it means taking a long, hard look at how males are conditioned to expect sexual power over females. It means committing to serious changes in the way boys are raised, and in particular, their sex education.

Meagher's case is rare. Most sexual assault and violence against women, including violence resulting in a woman's death, is not a wrong-place-wrong-time random act of awfulness. Most assaults are carried out by someone known to the victim, and most often this is a partner or relative.

Far more needs to be done to educate men on how to be respectful to the women in their lives and to create the circumstances in which gender equality can truly exist. In a society that is apparently built on the "foundation stone" of the family unit, violence inside the home needs to be addressed in tandem with violence on the street if we are to make real progress.

[Brisbane’s Reclaim the Night protest – an annual protest against sexual violence, will take place on October 26. Visit Reclaim the Night Brisbane on Facebook.]

Comments

People will read this and get sucked into the idea that IT IS SAFE TO WALK THE STREET LATE AT NIGHT and they or their partners will be raped. Sadly speaking from experience.

As a Young man I find it offensive that the author of this article believes that man need to be taught not to rape, it stigmatises ALL men and it nothing short of Misandry. I have never raped women and I don’t plan on doing so, do I need to be taught not to rape? Suggesting that man and boys need to be taught not to rape is suggesting that man and boys will rape unless taught otherwise which is just suggesting that rape is something all man and boys are inclined to do which is false taking into account that most man believe it or not will not rape anyone in their lifetime and most boys are raised to respect women, most boys are raised to respect people so no we actually don’t need serious changes to the way boys are raised, society is doing a good enough job so please don’t tell us that that we need to change the way we raise our young and last of suggesting that man DONT KNOW what it’s like to face violence on the streets as implied in this article is totally wrong considering that most victims of street violence are man and I know this not just from proof provided by research but also through experience for I have fallen victim to bashings and theft and most of my male friends have had similar experiences though most of my female friends have not, the worst most of them have faced is sexually offensive statements made about them and the odd drunk creep hitting on them. Now don’t get me wrong I’m defiantly not suggesting that women face no problems on the streets and much must be done to provided a safe environment for them, much must be done to provided a safe environment for everyone but blaming all man for the problems women face is completely wrong, we don’t need to be taught not to rape, we don’t need you telling us how to be raised or how to raise our own and to be honest we man don’t like to be told that there something is wrong with us, we don’t like been accused of been a potential rapist that must be taught to not be, it offends us and rightly so.

More needs to be done to teach man and women to respect EACHOTHER but stigmatising and laying the blame at the feet of one group at one half of the problem won’t achieve anything.

You are a VICTIM BLAMING SEXIST. You just don not get it yet so let me explain it simply for you mate. Lesson one. The mainstream media say to us MEN that it is okay to do what we want with WOMEN. Want evidence of this? Turn on your television or internet and check out the way women are being portrayed. Notice how it is kinda different to the portrayal of men. Lesson two. The reason for the author encouraging teaching of men and boys not to rape is because MEN and BOYS RAPE. Oh I will try to be politically correct just for you mate- Men and Boys rape women, girls, men and boys. Do you know who the rapists are mate? No you do not. Therefore all men and boys need to be taught not to rape. Simple logic and reason hey mate. Secondly, how does a sexist like yourself know anything about what your female friends have faced on the streets. What makes you think that you female friends would tell you anything that has happened to them on the streets? And what exactly do you mean by, "much must be done to provide a safe environment for them"? Cameras and police?! How is another racist sexist police officer or a camera in a street a solution for the women who are being raped on the street right now? How does a camera stop rape? Didn't you read the fact that most sexual offences have a low level of conviction. FACT. Most sexual offenders are family members of the victim and most sexual offenders blame the people who are speaking the truth, just as you have done here. What you need to do mate is stop victim blaming and start reading facts. And next time you go to type in your fav whack off site do yourself some good and get this one into you matey> http://stfurapeculture.tumblr.com/

Thats a fact. Saying "hey shit, there is a real problem with the way our society treats women" takes nothign away from men, its the only logical conclusion to the horrific statistics around sexual assault, pay inequity between men and women, rape culture etc.

To say "we need to treat men and women to respect each other" misses the point completely, and is offensive, because it implies that women (overwhelmingly victims) are as much to blame for systematic abuse as men (overwhelmingly perpetrators).

Im a man, and im a feminist. Most importantly, im not a fuckwit, and as such, i dont feel threatened by the IDEA that maybe women should organize against their oppression.

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