It could’ve been me. That was one of the first thoughts I had upon learning of the rape and murder of 22-year-old Comedian Eurydice Dixon in Melbourne’s Princes Park on June 13th 2018. A 19-year-old man has been charged with her murder. Her nighttime walk from her stand up gig to her front door, across parklands, is undeniably similar to the route I take to get myself home from work. Up until now I had told myself that by carrying my keys held firmly between my fingers in one hand, my phone in my other, I was protected from an attack just like this. That illusion has been shattered.
Eurydice’s violent death has shocked and devastated Australia. While candlelight vigils were held in almost every capital city where members of the public sobbed with sorrow and fear, a heated discussion was taking place about rape culture and toxic masculinity in our nation. For women like myself this murder has terrified us, holding a mirror up to our own actions and the shocking acts of violence that are committed against our gender. Acts perpetrated overwhelmingly by men. The suggestion made by Victorian Police that women need to take accountability for their own safety (aka take responsibility for the actions of those who would do us harm) is spectacularly missing the point and perpetuating a culture of victim blaming. Not only are suggestions that Eurydice shouldn’t have been walking alone at ‘that time of night’ insultingly insensitive, but also terribly antiquated and uninformed. I, like many adult women wish to earn a living and function in our society and sometimes that means travelling in public after dark both on foot or via public transport. Shouldn’t any woman or girl have the right to feel safe when moving through public spaces at any given time of the day? Don’t I have the right to not be murdered and raped on my walk home from work? Even more than that, don’t I have the right to not be scared for my life when walking alone in public? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes. It is not women who need to change their behaviour in order to be safe.
Author of the dystopian feminist text The Handmaid’s Tale and all round legend Margaret Atwood penned the quote, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them”. Yes, we have been afraid but we don’t want to be anymore. For this to be accomplished we are going to need some help.
Men, it’s time to step up and make some changes. It’s time to have a discussion with your mates about violence against women in Australia and how you can help to put an end to it. I know, I know. That’s the last thing you may want to bring up over a couple of cold ones with the lads but your daughters, wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers can’t stop this damaging culture by themselves. The buck stops with you on this one. So please bring it up. Call it out! A psychologist on Channel 9’s Today show suggested that men use the phrase, “We don’t do that” when faced with a friend who is making poor choices or, “We don’t say that” when they speak misogynistic words. It’s not just a joke. That excuse won’t fly anymore. Guys, your words have meaning and carry weight and we, the women who love, care for and for Pete’s sake birth you, are tired of you joking about the violence carried out against us. This is not the time for defensiveness on your part or #notallmen. Not all men rape and murder women. We ‘already know that and that is not the suggestion here. But blokeish behaviour and a flippant attitude to rape and violence need to be eliminated if we are to end this culture of toxic masculinity that does harm to everyone.
Eurydice Dixon’s last text message was to her boyfriend telling him that she was nearly home safe. She never did make it home safe that night. Eurydice did ‘the right thing’ by informing others of her whereabouts the night of her murder, and yet she’s still gone. Eurydice’s death has deeply affected so many women because we see ourselves in her. It is the shared experience of women and girls in this country that at one time or another in their lives they have felt unsafe in a public place due to verbal or physical harassment by a man. This culture needs to end so another beautiful, intelligent and funny woman with all her life in front of her, isn’t taken from us in the most horrendous of circumstances. Vale Eurydice.
Words by Alicia Franceschini