rape culture victim blaming

Following a Young Female Comedian’s Murder, People Are Accusing Police of Victim-Blaming

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**Trigger warning: rape, murder**

Earlier this week, a Melbourne comedian name Eurydice Dixon was murdered on her way home from a gig. She left the bar where her show was happening around 10:30 pm and her body was found hours later in a public park about 2 1/2 miles away. It’s a horrific tragedy, not lessened by the fact that her accused rapist and murderer, a man Dixon had not known, turned himself in to the police shortly after.

One quote from the police investigating Dixon’s murder has a lot of people–women, especially–upset at the implications. In discussing the case, the police superintendent said, “The message we would provide to all members of the community is to take responsibility for your safety. Make sure people know where you are and if you’ve got a mobile phone carry it and if you’ve got any concerns at all call police.”

Now, it’s important to note that that wasn’t the entirety of the police statement. They also said they would dramatically increase police presence in the park, so they weren’t saying the only way to prevent these crimes is for women to be more careful. Still, that is a message that women hear a lot—that making different choices, dressing different, drinking less, being more aware of literally everything around us all the time, would have prevented would-be attackers from committing crimes against us.

In theory, the warning to be safe and aware is simple advice and just basic common sense. In reality, though, it’s infuriating to hear, not just because other sorts of crimes don’t generally receive the same sort of “common sense” warnings (highlighting the fact that that language really does place the burden of safety on female victims), but because it completely ignores the fact that we already do all of these things.

Most women are constantly taking stock of their surroundings and endlessly modifying their behavior to keep themselves safe. If you haven’t seen it, this old Daily Show clip really nails the experience of Being a Woman in Public.

Worst of all, subsequent reports show that Dixon herself was doing the things the police superintendent instructed people to do in order to remain safe. Reports say that just a few hundred meters before reaching her home, she did the thing that many women have adopted as standard safety behavior and texted a friend “I’m almost home safe, HBU [how ’bout you].”

The responsibility for ending violence against women is 100% on the perpetrators. Sure, there are precautions we can all take to make sure we maintain a basic level of safety in certain situations, but to imply that more awareness or different choices could ensure that we never fall victim to attack is to completely disregard women’s reality. It only reinforces mentalities of rape culture and a culture of violence against women, which treat these things as unsolvable societal norms that women must accept the entire burden of navigating daily.


(image: Wolfram Burner / Flickr)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.