22-year-old Eurydice Dixon was raped and killed sometime between 10:30pm on Tuesday and 3:00am on Wednesday in Melbourne, according to Victorian Police.
Victorian Police tried to be helpful in warning the general public (cough, women) to take responsibility to avoid being raped. Detective Inspector Stamper told the media: “My message is that people need to be aware of their own personal security. If people should have any concerns at any time about their personal security, call triple-0.”
The internet lost its $#!✝️
Women were sick of being told it was their job to avoid being raped and murdered, and somehow the onus rested on them to stay safe. The helpful "advice" from the police was tantamount to victim blaming in the minds of many people, men and women alike.
Stories from around the world flooded our news feeds as women shared exactly what it's like to be ever mindful that one wrong move could result in the worst imaginable thing ever happening to you.
I spent some time pondering this. I'm a 6 foot 4 male. I never worry about whether someone is going to rape me, and I rarely worry if someone will murder me. Usually when I'm walking along a dark street at night, depending whether I'm wearing a hoodie or a blazer, people are nervous about my presence. I imagined how tiring it must be to constantly make sure you take the long way home, sit in groups, text your friends constantly regarding your safety, etc etc. I felt a genuine empathy towards women and the joke that is society warning them to be the ones to "take precautions" all the time, rather than actually deal with the perpetrators effectively.
Do you know who else felt empathy towards women following this story?
Darren West, MLC, Labor WA politician, Member for the Agricultural Region.
So Mr West tweeted an old list that the women's rights movements circulated back in 2015. It's a great list, sarcastic in nature, that makes a very clear point: It's not the woman's job to avoid being raped, it's the rapist's job to NOT RAPE! It was endorsed by famous feminists like Sarah Silverman and many more.
Here it is for posterity:
A similar list also circulated around the same time carried a footnote: “Rape culture directs women to police their clothing, beverage, behaviour and sexuality at all times to avoid men. It portrays men as powerless against their violent sexual urges. Rape culture demeans everyone and everyone should speak out against rape culture."
Now, anyone with an IQ above 65 could tell you that Sarah Silverman, widely hailed as a remarkable feminist (link) is not mocking rape victims by sharing this list. Anyone with an iota of understanding of the context in which the western world is operating right now, namely, rape victims being told it is THEIR job to avoid rape, would be able to put 2 and 2 together and get the point of this list.
Sarah Silverman has around 12 million followers on Twitter and no woman on the planet called for her to apologise for sharing this list.
Why? Because of brains.
We used our brains, understood what the list meant, and agreed her point was very valid.
She was roundly praised, and the men who complained about her tweet were widely condemned.
We know something needs to change.
We are SICK of having to train our daughters on how to avoid being sexually assaulted or worse.
And so when Darren West, in solidarity with Sarah Silverman and the millions of others who feel the same way tweeted this list recently, was he praised just like Ms Silverman?
Because there's a by-election happening in Darling Range, and the Liberal Party are trying desperately to spin this into a "rape joke" incident.
Today I received a press release from the Liberal candidate for Darling Range, Alyssa Hayden, demanding Mr West be sacked because he published this old viral list.
“There is no defending his tweet about rape and no excuse he attempts for posting his tweet is acceptable," Mrs Hayden said.
“You don’t joke about such a serious subject and if he believes it was a serious post it shows a lack of judgement – and not for the first time – which warrants his removal from his senior post in the Government.”
The questions I have for Alyssa Hayden and the Liberal Party are these:
1. Does Alyssa Hayden understand the point of the list?
2. Does Alyssa Hayden agree with the point the list makes?
3. If Alyssa Hayden honestly believes this list is insulting to rape victims and condemns anyone who tweets it, is she also condemning Sarah Silverman and all the feminists who made this list viral in 2015?
And the media have been in fine form as well. Caitlin Barr from Channel 9 seems to also have completely miss the point of the list, expecting Mr West to apologise for standing with women. (link) I wonder if Ms Barr expects Sarah Silverman to also issue an apology.
The response to Darren West's tweet from the Liberal Party is beyond "political correctness gone mad", because Darren's tweet is perfectly politically correct.
What Mrs Hayden and the Liberal Party have done is basically said anyone who tries to make a salient point that rape victims are not to blame will have their words twisted and spun such that THEY will appear to be the ones who are insensitive to rape.
I have had multiple family members who have been raped, sexually abused, and domestically abused. None of them are offended by this list. They ARE offended when Police tell them it is their job to avoid being abused.
Not only did Darren West do nothing wrong by posting this list, but he is to be commended for having the courage to stand alongside victims of rape, and encouraging a conversation where we start thinking maybe it's not the woman's job to constantly avoid being raped. Maybe we should be focusing our message on the would-be attackers.
Alyssa Hayden did not respond to attempts to contact her prior to publication of this article.