Australian women had some thoughts about police telling them to “take responsibility” for their safety
Last week, Australian comedian Eurydice Dixon was heading home after a gig when she was raped and murdered. Police officers responded by releasing a statement that urged people walking at night to “take responsibility for their safety.” Australian women and women across the internet quickly sounded off on those words of advice, explaining that they were packed with victim blaming and ignorance.
Dixon was murdered while walking through a park in a Melbourne suburb. Shortly after her body was discovered, a 19-year-old man turned himself in to the police. During a press conference about Dixon, Detective Andrew Stamper told the public: “My message is that people need to be aware of their own personal security, and be mindful of their surroundings. We would rather have too many calls than too few.”
Local Superintendent David Clayton backed up Stamper’s statement and urged people to “have situational awareness” and be “aware of your surroundings.” “If you’ve got a mobile phone carry it and if you’ve got any concerns, call police,” he said.
BREAKING: Police are urging people to take responsibility for their safety when walking alone in Carlton North, after a woman was found dead there overnight. "Make sure people know where you are and if you’ve got a mobile phone carry it." https://t.co/PjmsInGSEs
— The Age (@theage) June 13, 2018
There are a lot of issues with these statements. First of all, they place the blame of assault on women. It’s up to women to be constantly aware of their surroundings instead of it being up to men to not rape and murder women. Second of all, most women are aware of their surroundings. Most women do carry their cell phones on them. And most women have keen “situational awareness,” especially when they’re walking home at night (my personal favorite: keys between the fingers, nervously looking behind me every ten seconds).
People took to Twitter to challenge Victoria Police’s statements. Many were quick to emphasize that women don’t need to be reminded to be careful. We’re already worried about our safety most of the time.
Been thinking about this headline all day. Anytime I am walking/in a cab alone, ESPECIALLY at night, all I literally think about is if I'm about to get hurt. We DO have our phones charged and ready. We DO have our fists clenched. We DO anticipate the worst and it is TIRING. pic.twitter.com/lwBNq2lAza
— Bridget Hustwaite (@BHustwaite) June 13, 2018
I’ve never had a night out and not texted a friend or my mum or both when I’ve arrived home safe.
This is one small part of a whole set of behaviours women inherently do to “take responsibility for their safety”. Fuck. I’m so angry at the state of this shit. RIP #EurydiceDixon
— Josie Young (@josieyoung_) June 15, 2018
How I move about at night as female: I don't walk anywhere near home without my giant Malamute next to me, one earbud in. No earbuds without my dog. Phone always with me. Self defence class front of mind. Avoid PT. Uber pool. #NormalRoutine #EurydiceDixon
— Jess Wilkie (@jes_wilkie) June 15, 2018
Others gave Victoria Police a quick lesson in victim blaming.
Frankly I think @VictoriaPolice should apologise for their victim-blaming and completely useless "advice" following the murder of #eurydicedixon . Don't tell us to be more careful. Tell men they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they choose to commit a crime!
— Alison Joyce (@alliejoys) June 14, 2018
I can only imagine the rage and fear women feel to see women die doing everyday mundane things like walking home, like they do to, only to then be told it’s their fault and that they need to be more careful.
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) June 14, 2018
On a side note, advice like ‘be aware of your surroundings’ is so moot and pointless as to be offensive. Women are aware of their surroundings their whole bloody lives, it doesn’t do shit to protect you from senseless, random violence. #eurydicedixon
— 🌈Em Baker🌈 (@therealembaker) June 14, 2018
Yup, once again for the people in the back. Women are doing their damndest to stay safe. Men are the ones who need a serious, serious talking to.
I’m so fucking sick of young women being told how to behave, what to wear, how to act, where to go, how to protect themselves etc etc instead of, you know, teaching young men not to fucking rape and murder people. #EurydiceDixon
— Harry Cook (@HarryCook) June 14, 2018
The 15 minute walk home from my local cinema is usually a pleasant one. Tonight, I have to look twice at every man I walk past. "Situational Awareness" get fucked. It's not my job to be constantly monitoring my own safety; It's men's jobs to do better.#EurydiceDixon
— Jo Bradley (@JoLucyBradley) June 15, 2018
Hopefully, statements after tragedies like this can focus on what police officers will do to ensure women’s safety and also a loud, loud discussion of all the very serious repercussions men will face if they commit a crime.