How many metres can I walk on my own at night?

I am desperately saddened by the latest news about Jill Meagher. Mixed in with my sorrow for this poor young woman and her family is fury. I’m angry about the condescending crap spouted by so many people over the last few days about “women’s safety.” This is my response.

So tell me. How far can I walk on my own at night? How many metres, exactly, can I walk unaccompanied without having to fear for my life?

How many drinks am I, an adult woman, allowed to have after work on Friday night before being dismissed as a “party girl” or “asking for it”? How high can my heels be, and how short a skirt can I wear, before being implicated in any crime against me? And, just so that I’m clear, how many metres can I walk to get myself home?

And if something happened to me, how harshly would I be judged? If I vanished on that walk to my front door, what would you have to say about me? Would I be tut-tutted at for not accepting the offer of an escort home? Would idiots take to Facebook to admonish me for supposedly leading some guy on?

Would do-gooders and commentators and Twitterati-types take my parents to task for not raising me to act sensibly? Would they lambast my friends and lovers for not taking adequate care of me? Would everyone in my life suffer because I exceeded my allocated metres of solo walking?

Would every media outlet in the country view my disappearance as an opportunity to point out that, as it happens, women have more to fear in our world than men?

Would you, quietly, at the back of your mind, think that if I’d just stayed home with my partner, like a good wife and woman, none of this would have happened to me?

Are you just looking for one big, smug fucking excuse to say that you told me so?

And just so that we’re absolutely fucking clear, how many metres am I allowed to walk on my own at night?

A small addendum (added 30 September 2012):

Thanks to all who have read, commented and responded. Just to clarify, I am not advocating that anyone put their personal safety at risk for the sake of “principle” – rather, I wrote this post in response to the armchair criticism that certain people made in relation to Jill Meagher’s decisions on the night of her abduction. I wrote a short piece on my Tumblr explaining this further – please read it here if you’d like.

Also, I will not be approving any comments that refer specifically to, or speculate on, the motives of the accused in this case. The Victorian Police have called for restraint on social media in relation to this, and I wish to support them in this.

Addendum to the addendum (added 30 September 2012):

Erm, I also will not be approving comments that contain rape jokes.


About missaleksia

Street press journalist and culture vulture based in Melbourne, Australia. I enjoy Australian hip hop, obsessively following television shows, healthy debate, baking and wine. My views are my own. Keep up to date with me on Twitter: @missaleksia
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92 Responses to How many metres can I walk on my own at night?

  1. Thank you for writing this.
    To remind people to refocus and understand what this is really about.
    No one person woman or man should feel afraid to walk the streets without fear of being attacked. Violence is not acceptable.
    There is no justification for this.
    It is criminal.

  2. Pingback: How far can I walk? — Doom and Gloom

  3. Julianne says:

    Right on.

  4. Chem says:

    Anyone who thinks a girl can’t be out at night having fun, dressing nice, or getting home a little late without being raped thinks being a rapist is man’s natural state. There is little in this world that’s more disgusting than justifying a senseless and moronic act trying to blame the victim

    What an insulting line of thought some people can develop.

    Everyone should be safe enough to not be attacked ever. Thanks for the short blog highlighting this.

  5. You people need an education. Start with the very basic philosophical distinction between ‘is’ and ‘ought’. Just saying that “this is a dangerous part of town” does not in any way mean that “this ought to be a dangerous part of town”. Get the difference?

    • MattK says:

      You need to get an education. Start with attribution bias and the just wold fallacy. It will help you to understand the compulsion to attribute tragic events on the actions of the victim. This is a robust finding of psychology. If you somehow believe that you are immune to it, look up bias bias. Next, consider that this effect is especially strongly applied to women who are victims of assault or worse and why this might be.

    • Panda says:

      And of course this issue here that you are talking about is obviously the most imminent in regards to violent crimes? A little perspective please.

  6. jonno says:

    surely you’re not serious? anyone with the views or opinions you talk about in your article are not worthy of debating?
    A wise man once told me – if you start arguing with idiots, pretty soon, noone will be able to tell the difference!

    • missaleksia says:

      Hi Jonno,

      In a lot of ways, you’re right. The sad thing is, the people with these views and opinions have been sharing them – loudly – over the past few days. Some are restricted to Facebook and Twitter, while others have roles in the media.

      They are best ignored, but I can’t help but think of how horrible Ms Meagher’s family and friends must feel when such drivel inevitably lands within earshot of them.

      I’m not particularly interested in arguing – I just wanted people to think about the things they could say about this case and the people associated with it before they take to Facebook. That’s all.

      Thanks for reading.

      • Daniel Young says:

        I think idiocy needs to be challenged (loudly), not ignored, or it starts to be seen as the widely accepted view. So, well done in writing this post. We all need to think carefully about what we say at times like these, but that doesn’t mean we should stay quiet.

      • Coco-belle says:

        Yes, the first thing my family said was about shoes…my shoes…too high, can’t run. As if my own wardrobe will inevitably contribute to my own attack, rape and murder. Whilst I’d like to be able to run like a panther when faced with danger, I’d prefer to wear as I please and not have to worry about being attacked.
        I do feel for the Meaghers as I am sure they have heard similar in earshot.
        And yes, I know that all of us deep down inside truly hope that something as simple as sensible shoes will keep us safe, rather than the reality…

  7. andi says:

    I am printing this (adding an asterisk or two!) and putting it in my waiting room. I am a therapist who works almost exclusively with sexual abuse/assault survivors and your intelligent sarcasm attacks much of what they have come to believe about themselves. You effectively point out how ridiculous those excuses for violence are.

    Can’t wait to read more of you now that I’ve found you!

    • missaleksia says:

      Wow, andi, thank you. That’s amazing. I hope only for the best for all the survivors you’re working with.

      • louisewdub says:

        I totally agree with Andi, you’ve really hit the nail on the head. Having suffered an attack myself in my late teens, friends and even members of my own family have blamed me and that attitude can be miles more damaging than the incident that inspired them.

  8. Nick says:

    NeoTesla is right. You must acknowledge the distinction between saying “it’s inadvisable to do X (because it may lead to or increase the risk of Y)” and saying “you have not entitled to do X, and if Y happens to you then you’ve got what you deserve.” Reasonable people should have no problem with the first type of statement: it’s not victim blaming and you have to be deliberately obtuse or stupid to claim otherwise. To assert that a person has, ex ante, alternative courses of action open to them that can reduce or increase their chance of being attacked isn’t to reduce the culpability of the perpetrator for attacking them, and it doesn’t thereby imply that the victim is themselves liable for being attacked. But on three occasions in recent years, “worthy” Melbourne commentators have been just so obtuse/stupid as to ignore this distinction – (1) when Victoria Police advised young people of South Asian background to avoid brandishing iPhones or other expensive possessions in public, to minimize their chance of being violently robbed; (2) SlutWalk following the remarks of the Canadian police officer; and now (3) Jill Meagher. Besides showing intellectual dishonesty and/or infirmity, these “don’t blame the victim” campaigners show an unpleasant willingness to use the tragic misfortune of other people as an opportunity to push political barrows and grind axes.

    • Nick says:

      *are not entitled.

    • Geoffrey Brent says:

      Telling women “you shouldn’t walk alone at night, catch a cab or get a guy to escort you” is patronising and unhelpful. It’s like telling a professional electrician “watch out you don’t get electrocuted, electricity can be dangerous!”

      Any adult woman – hell, any teenager – ALREADY KNOWS that walking alone at night is dangerous. She has had this message drummed into her from infancy. She is just as much aware of this as your electrician is of the dangers of electrocution, and you can be pretty sure she thinks about safety every time she goes out.

      She probably also knows – better than the blokes giving her advice – that safety is not simple. Sometimes women get attacked by cab drivers (in Perth, about a dozen cabbies a year are convicted of sexual assault!) And sometimes the “friend” who offers to walk her home is the real threat.

      And sometimes she just doesn’t feel like choosing the safest option, because if you always do that, you end up a prisoner. We accept that men will take risks in search of a fulfilling life – how many times have you heard the words “at least he died doing what he loved” when somebody like Peter Brock or Steve Irwin comes to grief?

      But when a woman takes risks that end badly – even risks that are much smaller than those involved with wrestling crocodiles or racing cars – the reaction is quite different. Obviously her soft little woman-head didn’t understand that the world is dangerous, or she would never have tried to walk home after an evening with friends!

      As a man, my job is NOT to tell women how they should trade off their freedoms for safety. My job is to let them make that decision for themselves, and do my best to make ALL choices safe.

      • Nick says:

        Geoffrey, as a man your job isn’t to tell other men what women know, feel, and experience. Nor is it to tell other men not to give women advice, etc. That job falls to a protector of maidens.

      • Coco says:

        Perfectly said Geoffrey.

      • Geoffrey Brent says:

        Ah. So it’s okay for a man to tell women how they must approach their safety, but it’s not okay for another man to question the value of that advice. Gotcha.

        There is little I’ve said above that hasn’t already been voiced by any number of intelligent and eloquent women, and in a better world there’d be no need for me to repeat it.

        Unfortunately some blokes seem to have a bit of a hearing problem when a woman says these things, so I try to assist communication by repeating them in my Manly Baritone (TM).

      • debstar says:

        Thank God, an attuned and empathic response from a man. Thank you Geoffrey. Your post is healing rather than alienating or (at worst) retraumatising

      • bridgett74 says:

        Now theres a real man! Perfectly said!

      • bridgett74 says:

        And to Nick its not your job to tell Geoffrey what he can and cannot say about womens feelings etc, kind of ironic that you should attempt to do so. As a women and the third part in question, I have no objections to what Geoffrey said, so there you go!

      • Nick says:

        Bridget, my objection wasn’t raised on behalf of women. My primary aim isn’t to impress the female onlookers and be judged a gallant Friend of Women. I objected to Geoffrey’s chosen posture (as the voice of women among men, the conduit for “what women think” to the dim “blokes”) because it’s rather insulting to men (and also just a bit silly). That aside, I should have highlighted the bigger issue with Geoffrey’s comment. He abandoned the accusation made by the original post, and by most of the comments here: this accusation was that a certain kind of remark (about it being dangerous to walk home drunk, etc.) is a kind of “victim blaming.” Neo Tesla and I showed that accusation to be wrong. Geoffrey silently dropped that argument, and took up a new one. Now the remark wasn’t frowned upon because it was meretricious and false. No, now the problem was that women know that already. No longer was it claimed that such a remark denies the right of women to walk home safely, and is therefore sinister. Now such a remark was merely “patronising and unhelpful.” The remark was still prohibited but the reasons for doing so now looked a lot less compelling. That’s all I’ll bother to say.

      • I totally agree. Cab drivers in Perth have been in the news a lot lately on sexual assault charges (or not wearing pants!) – and there is still the much-touted possibility that the Claremont serial killer was a taxi driver – while when it comes to accepting lifts home there is the Jessie Cate case, where she accepted a lift home from a workmate, someone she knew, and he killed her. Women are much more likely to experience violence from an intimate partner than to be randomly attacked on the street, sadly. Home is not a safe place.

      • Barbara says:

        it’s not just walking at night. I opened my apartment door on a Sunday afternoon to a man in a suit who told me he was looking for his lost dog. He raped me. There is no special avoidable risk for women when it comes to violence. Violence against a woman is not in anyway her fault. no matter what. or maybe we should add opening the door on a sunny Sunday afternoon to the list of avoidable risks.

      • Zoe says:

        “And sometimes she just doesn’t feel like choosing the safest option, because if you always do that, you end up a prisoner.” – This. exactly this. Thank you for ‘getting it’ Geoffrey.

    • Vish says:

      Thank you, Nick, for such a great comment. I recently found myself in a debate where I was repeatedly told I was “victim-blaming” when I advocated the need to take precautions, if they are available. As I tried to argue, there is a difference between being sexist and acknowledging unfortunate realities of the world, such as the fact that women are more likely to be the victims of sexual crime and are less likely to be able to fight off their aggressor. This does NOT mean that I think that we should meekly accept this and say the responsibility lies with women to look after their safety – as a society we need to fix these problems. However, if you have an option to mitigate the risks, then whether you are male or female, you should take that option. To do so otherwise is like using idealism as a shield. I repeat, we need to work towards a safer society for all, but it is not victim-blaming to encourage safer options. This case was a tragedy and the only person responsible is the vile man who raped and murdered an innocent person.

      • kind hypocrite says:

        To Nick and Vish (not intended for anyone else)
        Personally I believe timing is of the essence. Victim blaming consists of two words: ‘victim’ and ‘blaming’. Beforehand ‘she should’ can be taken as an advice. However the moment you spell out ‘she should have’ you imply that she did something wrong and is that a blame? YES! Are you implying that she is responsible? Hopefully not, but that doesn’t take away that you might make her FEEL responsible. And in the end what is more important? That you, an unknown bystander, are consistent in your rhetorics? Or that people like Jill get nothing but compassion for the situation they had to endure.
        It’s true, this is an internet forum and the chance she would read this is practically zero, but there are people here that have been in the same situation and thus still feel personally attacked. (As long as they’re not around I agree that precautions are valid).

  9. Emma says:

    I often walk home by myself and the past week I have been getting more and more rattled by the thought that I have possibly made myself an easy target.
    I am single, in my late 20’s and live by myself. I am hugely independant and believe that I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Like Jill, I live in a busy area and the walk home is mostly via well lit, busy roads. Only the last approx 200m is darker and less traffic.

    The outcome of Jill’s story leave’s me with a very uneasy feeling and a lot of self doubt. How could I be so stupid?? I think to myself. But you know what? I have no doubt that I will continue as I am. I am realistic about my actions. I am not reckless, I am an adult who can recognise danger. I know when I have had too much to drink and I should be catching a cab.
    Jill isn’t at fault here. She didn’t ask for this to happen just by walking herself home. Don’t ask questions like “where was her husband? Why didn’t he pick her up?”. This is not the point!

    • Matt says:

      Emma, being “in the right” isn’t going to get you un-raped if you happen to fall victim to something like this. Being safe is worth sacrificing a little “independence”. I’m a big guy, but I still take care where I walk at night because a mugging or a knifing could be around the next corner. I say again, the right to do something is not a shield against bad things happening. Focusing on your rights and ignoring the risks is a recipe for tragedy.

  10. Rositta says:

    I’ve just become aware of this story and am sickened. I am now old but back in the 70’s and 80’s I lived my life. I went out, walked where I pleased in this big city and never once thought I would get hurt. Many times a came home at dawn. Would I do that now? Emphatically no. That is unfair and should not be this way. Here in Toronto there have been 6 sexual assaults just in one week. Why, that is the big question I ask myself.
    There was a few years ago a Muslim imam in Australia who said “women who dressed inappropriately and were out on their own deserved to be raped”. I know what I would have liked to do to him had I the chance.
    Women should have the right to live as we choose go where we wish. Young women must take back thar right…

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  12. Megan says:

    I absolutely LOVE this. I applaud you.

  13. lovecoachaustralia says:

    Absolutely the best thing I have seen written about this whole catastrophe

  14. Nick F says:

    Awesome. You’ve gained a fan and follower.

  15. Amy Adams says:

    The story is very sad. There is never an excuse to blame the victim. This is not her fault. I do however think it is dangerous to suggest that anybody who advises a woman not to walk alone at night is smug or sexist. Walking alone at night is dangerous and should be avoided if possible. Too many people think that ‘it won’t happen to them’. The reason this story has spoken to so many is because many of us have done what Jill did. I know I’ve walked home alone (many years ago) and I know many of my friends who still do. The world should be safe enough for us to do this but it isn’t. This isn’t a gender issue. I hope this terrible tragedy makes women and men rethink walking alone at night.

    • bridgett74 says:

      This is absolutely a gender issue, its hardly as commen that men are advised to not walk home alone or not dress in a certain way to aviod being attacked etc, 99% of all voilence in the western world is against women of men! At the same time approx. 65% of voilence against women happens in the home of someone she knows, so walking home isn’t the most dangerous place for a woman! I live in Sweden now and here we have a campaign about deadly voilence against women. The slogan reads: “Cause of death… woman”.

      • Matt says:

        Actually, men are overwhelmingly the victims of violent crime excluding rape.

      • Coco-belle says:

        What an interesting campaign! Yes, whilst men may also be attacked, it is women who wear the scorn of contributing by their attire etc etc

      • kind hypocrite says:

        In addition to what Matt says: In my (big) family ALL(except for my smallest cousin it makes 5) guys have been violated (non-sexual). I have been threatened with a knife to my throat, a cousin was severely beaten up multiple times and the others all had taken a minor beating. I have three sisters and five nieces. None have ever felt even lightly threatened.
        Okay, these are all small offences, but I think MEN in general should be more aware of the dangers and I think women are taught better in that aspect.

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  17. And just so that we’re absolutely fucking clear, how many metres am I allowed to walk on my own at night?

    All of them! Every damn one you please. When will Neanderthals of both sexes understand that the only person to blame for rape is the rapist?! It’s the 21st century, fer christs sake!

  18. ganu says:

    I feel so much for her and her family! I cannot even imagine!

    I feel like no woman is safe to walk alone at night and Jill was drunk at the time too, which also just makes her 5000 times weaker. so please ladies avoid walking home in the dark and on top of that, do not be drunk while doing that. A taxi fare is nothing compared to how much your life is worth.

    • Isabel says:

      Ganu, when you have re-read the article, please feel free to leave your comments about irony as well.

      By the way, do you have the toxicology report? What statistic is “5000 times weaker”? Weaker than… what? or, to do…. what? Being drunk legless hasn’t stopped many (me, previously, in times long gone) being able to walk home. Isn’t that why there are ‘locals’? On the topic of getting a taxi, good luck with that. Many a time, due to hours of work, walking home even for an hour or so, has been faster for me than waiting for a taxi or trying public transport. As other posters have alluded to here, and the point of the article, in what society should walking home constitute risking your life. Further, again as noted by others, the ‘gamekeeper’ can turn ‘poacher’.

  19. Alexis says:

    Victim blaming is NEVER okay. But there’s a difference between victim blaming and urging women to be careful. Saying, “Women should avoid walking home after dark,” is NOT victim blaming, it’s sound advice as benign as your grandmother would give you.
    Yes. We SHOULD all be able to walk down an alleyway in lingerie at 2am without being assaulted. We SHOULD. No man should EVER think that is “invitation” to assault a woman, and if he does, he is filth. But we CAN’T do that. Just like, while we should be able to leave our cars unlocked and trust society to not steal it, we can’t. So we have to be cautious.
    So let’s not dismiss all advice as “victim blaming” and instead take this horrific and saddening tale as a reminder that it’s okay to ask for someone to walk you to your car.

  20. Jennifer says:

    I couldn’t agree more!!!! Damn Well written & your point made exactly!!!!!

  21. Ian P says:

    There is no action or combination of actions that turns a non-rapist into a rapist.

  22. Marivia says:

    I’d like to point out for many of the comments here talking about bad neighborhoods and women dressed skimpy that should understand the risks are a little hilarious to me. I live in an area with an amazingly love crime rate, bright lit neighborhoods and you’d assume this is a safe place to stroll around. The crime that we do see here? Women being attacked. There was an article a while back of a girl walking back from school in the early evening(Stayed late for something or other), a girl my sister’s friend knew, a girl who didn’t wear miniskirts or low cut v-necks, a rather modest individual. Was she safe? Obviously not, considering the situation she ended up in. This is fucked up. When did the world get like this? Could you blame this girl like you could the others? Would you? Luckily she managed to get away, but was it her fault she got assaulted, that this man tore her shirt off? Would people blame her? I’ll assume yes.

    As much as I’d hope in a perfect world I’d be able to walk home in the dark without an escort or some form of defense on my person, but it’s not the case. All I can advise if you walk home alone, carry a pocket knife, or mace, or if mace is illegal grab a hold of a little can of raid(Works just as well). Like I said, it sucks, it really fucking sucks, but that’s what our world is devolving into, apparently.

  23. Rebecca McDonald says:

    Jill did exactly what we all do and have done in the past. We shouldn’t fear the night. This could and does happen in the daylight also and people need to remember that. What we need to fear is the outcome of the prosecution should public speculation get out of control.

  24. sand says:

    instead of telling women how they can avoid being raped we should be teaching people not to rape

  25. Australia: Rethink Self Defence and Carry Laws. Enough said. When you got seconds to live cops are but minutes away.

  26. Barry says:

    I think you (and everyone arguing this angle) miss the point a bit. There is nothing wrong with dressing up, getting sloshed, and walking home at 2am on your own. Yes you should be able to do it without getting hassled. But we all know the world isn’t a perfect place – 99.99% of men aren’t going to rape the reason you don’t walk home alone and pissed isn’t because of 99.99% of us men who won’t rape you, it’s because of the 0.01% of demented & evil men who will. I think of it as just common sense.

    It doesn’t mean this poor woman is to blame she was well within her rights to walk home safely.

    I’ve got a daughter and son and I will be brainwashing them as best I can to not take unnecessary risks in life such as walking home drunk and alone. But I will stress it more with my daughter simply because it is a fact men are physically stronger than women and the risks posed to her are different to those my son faces. That’s my thinking anyway.

    • Fiona says:

      I hope you’re also going to be brainwashing your son that rape is when a woman doesn’t want to have sex with him and he does it anyway.

      Also, how do you propose to protect your daughter when over 95% of rapes are committed by someone that the victim knows?

    • Lucky says:

      Your statistics on the number of men who are rapists are quite off. Many more than .01% of men have committed rape. The estimates I see, in a brief look around, range between 4% and about 12%, for the US. I doubt that Australia is 2-3 orders of magnitude less; I haven’t found any studies of the topic done in Australia.

  27. devvers says:

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of a northern lass and commented:
    ouldn’t have said it better, so I won’t try…


  29. Scott Cunningham says:

    Oh Barry, Alexis and others, how can I explain this to you?

    I am a man. Four years ago I was raped and severely beaten just trying to buy soap and paper towels at 9:30 in the morning at a Mac’s convenience store. One of my two oh-so-helpful witnesses, an old woman, blamed me for the attack and dismissed it as not a “legitimate rape.” The store clerk said I had no right to place demands on his time and he wouldn’t testify without me even having asked him, and insisted the security footage was for shoplifters only. But he still insisted it was my fault if this man attacked anybody else and I had to get a conviction — without witness testimony or the security tapes. They also stood by and watched the entire attack, the beating that followed when my attacker suddenly realized I was unambiguously a man (the stuff he’d said made it clear his motive was to intimidate women out of existing in public space) and repeated attempts to break my neck or stop my breathing. Charming fellows.

    Is it just “common sense” that men shouldn’t buy cleaning supplies in convenience stores on weekday mornings? Was I taking an unnecessary risk?

    People like to dismiss our huge problem with the rape culture by saying, oh well, it’s just 0.01% of men who attack people. No, it isn’t. Just about all of my male university room mates shouted rape threats and cat calls at jogging women, then broke my dishes and melted my plastic stuff in the oven when I challenged them on it. Most of my male roommates have tried to lure women to the apartments I’ve shared with them and guilt trip and blackmail them into drinking heavily with vicious intent (thankfully, nobody fell for it, people got pissed off and left each time, and these situations usually involved me drinking all of the poured shots and being beaten senseless after the women left.) These guys didn’t recognize blackmail intoxication or assaults inside dating relationships as sexual assault, either. So I got my own apartment, and was attacked one day when I went to buy stuff to wash the kitchen floor.

    Barry, the problem isn’t dark alleys or Jason in a hockey mask or women being smaller than men. The problem isn’t some exotic threat “out there.” The problem isn’t anything wrong with women or where they’re going or what they’re doing. So called “common sense” has nothing to do with it.

    We don’t need to teach people “how to be safe,” excluding from friends, acquaintances and relationship partners, who are the most likely actual perpetrators of all kinds of violence against women, and presumably not in “safe” situations like buying soap and paper towels at the corner store. We need to teach boys not to rape people. We need to change our culture that still says that there are people and then there are women, who contain sex instead of it being an activity people do, and these women belong hidden away in the private sphere and need to be pushed out of public space by any means. If it weren’t for the misogyny and the backlash against feminism in my culture, I wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted, beaten and attempted murdered that day, and might’ve actually made more male friends in university.

    • Barry says:

      Ok let’s say 99.9999% of the time it’s common sense, and 0.0001% of the time it’s just shocking luck that totally hits you out of the blue without warning. I think a lot of victims think they are in the 2nd category but really they made some bad decisions too that they are in denial about. What exactly were you wearing or doing to get raped at 9.30am and have an old lady say it wasn’t a real rape!

      • Scott Cunningham says:

        You pulled those statistics out of your nether regions and you know it.
        Am I even going to answer your second question?
        I don’t owe you an answer to what I was wearing when I was raped, Barry.
        Denim jacket. Button down shirt. Jeans. Beard stubble.
        “Common sense” has nothing to do with it. The problem is rapists.

        Would it make it okay if my shirt was a red Hawaiian style shirt, with flowers on it?
        Would it be okay if I’m a man with curly hair?
        No it doesn’t change a goddam thing, Barry.
        Even if I had been dressed in drag it might explain him confusing me for a woman but it wouldn’t excuse rape and attempted murder.

        And the old woman’s dismissing it was nothing but the rape culture in action.

        So once again you.
        1) Dismiss the problem because of numbers you made up just now say it isn’t a problem
        2) Insisting that really the survivor is at fault for stepping out of line somewhere and won’t admit it.

        Maybe it makes you feel comfortable to think ~100% of survivors must have done something wrong. That way you and the people close to you will never be attacked, because you follow the magic rules.

        We followed the magic rules. The rules don’t work. That means the solution isn’t more “personal responsibility” rhetoric and we can’t simply disengage from people who’ve been hurt and say “It’s not my problem. It’ll never happen to me. I don’t have to listen.”

        We might even need to take some collective, social responsibility to change the culture, because the culture made the rapists. Perish the thought!

        I think this can be one of those “teachable moments.”

      • missaleksia says:

        Scott, I was horrified by your story, and I thank you for sharing it. You raise some amazing points about the ugly attitudes people can have when a sexual assault doesn’t fit within their mental parameters of what rape looks like.

        Barry – asking Scott what he was wearing or doing to “get raped” is the very definition of victim blaming, and if Scott hadn’t written such a considered and thought-provoking response to you already, I would have removed your comment. I can also see I have numerous other comments from you in my inbox questioning whether “no means no” and making misogynistic comments about women and their appearance.

        I would appreciate it if you could remember that this post was put up because a young woman died in horrible circumstances. I will not be approving vicious, vitriolic, anti-woman bile on my blog. I am sure you can find somewhere else to post such things.


      • Kate Wright says:

        His attire has nothing to do with ANYTHING Barry. Neither do his actions. How can you read such an eloquent article and miss ALL it’s points?

    • Kate Wright says:

      Amazingly put Scott.

      • Scott Cunningham says:

        Thanks! I only started sharing my story in September when I realized it might help others. I’d say I’ve made a full recovery, but because my mom is prone to PTSD meltdowns for her own reasons and my dad seems unhappy these days, I don’t have anyone to tell in my offline life. So I’ve been really surprised what a relief it is not to have to keep it a secret any more.
        Much love to everybody else out there, whether you keep somebody else’s rules or not!

  30. Just to be clear – you can walk as far as you like. You can do it stark naked, but for heels so tall they count as stilts. You can have had 90 partners in the last 5 days, and work professionally as a prostitute, You can do it so sloshed your blood alcohol content would count as a medical miracle and you can cover yourself in suggestive tattoos and paint invitations to obscene acts all over your body. Even if you do all of these I will respect your right to refuse anyone and will consider the rapist to be the one at fault.
    Your body is yours to do with as you please in all ways and no one can legitimately take control of your body or your choice with out your expressed and continuing approval.
    There is no action a person can take that grants another rights over them.
    And I know that you know this. I’m stating it so you know that some of us out here also know it.
    As a father I will be teaching my daughter how to look after herself when she walks wherever she wishes, not to choose paths that society says are safe. If I had a son I’d be teaching him proper respect of other people, and guess what – as I have a daughter I’ll be teaching her the same.
    We can make a difference and I hope that poor Jill’s legacy will be many more people understanding how inappropriate the blaming of the victim is in our society .

  31. Ljubica says:

    Reblogged this on a miscellany of lou.

  32. Simon says:

    I can see where both sides of this argument are coming from.

    I like to think the reason there is focus on ways for potential victims to minimise their risk is because potential victims are the only ones sensible and capable of learning. What I mean is, the offenders, people who commit rape and murder surely have something wrong with them mentally. I would think trying to educate them that rape is wrong is like hitting your head against a brick wall. (Ever tried arguing with an idiot? It’s pointless). Saying “we should educate men that rape and murder is wrong”. Well, I would think we already do that. I certainly know that. But there’s still a small percentage who are going to commit crime regardless.

    As much as we would like not to, I think we need to accept these horrible people exist. While I personally wish we would lock-up these criminals for life once they are caught and convicted, until they commit a crime what can we do? Be as safe and cautious as we can. The way I see it, we show concern for potential victims (which is all of us, men included) because as an everyday-joe it’s impossible to foresee an attack and therefore foil the attacker. So we focus on what we can. Which is the potential victim.

    Having said that, everyone should be able to act/take whatever risks they like without being blamed. I believe it’s up to an individual what they consider a worthwhile risk in order to live with a sense of freedom. I don’t think Jill’s decisions on the night should be talked about specifically and certainly not criticised. She definitely did nothing wrong in my mind. And it’s so unfair that this happened. But in a broader sense we should be able to offer advice/suggestions for safety. (After a grieving period would be nice, and without mentioning Jill specifically woudl be good taste). Whether people take the advice is up to them and nobody else’s business. But we all choose what we think are worthwhile risks and what aren’t. It’s life. And freedom

  33. It’s annoying that the media focuses on this 1 case. There are dozens of people every week who randomly disappear without a trace. Where is all the damned media coverage for them? It sucks what happened to her, but it sucks even more that the media will focus on one event (which isn’t much different to any others), simply because she worked at one of the tv stations.

    Maybe I’m becoming more cynical as I get older, but this annoys me. Thankfully due to the extra media coverage her family now have closure. I wish all the other families of missing people would get the same sort of coverage and focus so that their families too could have closure. But it will never happen, unless they were friends/co-workers with people who can make it happen.

    • Coco-belle says:

      From what I have read in the papers I think the difference here is that this case went very quickly from missing person to suspicious missing person to homicide investigation where they were concerned there would be further attacks. And whilst I am certainly no expert, I suspect this may go some way to explaining things.

  34. To clarify my point, it really annoys me that the media dictates which missing person is more important. I’m sure the families of all the other current missing young boys/girls would have loved that air-space and media-push for answers.

  35. Stephanie says:

    I read in the replies people saying that women should be careful walking alone at night etc. I think the proper line to be said is that everyone should be careful walking alone at night, men and women. By saying that just women should be careful is what makes the whole statement sexist. The fact is I wouldn’t of felt I was doing anything dangerous by walking down Sydney Road with so much road and foot traffic. There were people all over the place on that small amount of CCTV footage! She had a one in two million chance of being raped and murdered by a stranger and there were people everywhere! Of course she thought she was safe. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. If her friend had walked her home the perpetrator would of grabbed another woman later that night or the next or the next and so on. Maybe a lone woman putting out her bins in a quiet suburban street. Maybe a woman waiting to grab a taxi so she can get home safely. Maybe a woman walking back from the milk bar 10 doors down. It was going to happen to somebody by this person.

    I have been assaulted many times. In a jam packed pub I had a man put his hand down my pants and grab me, on Elizabeth street I had a man push me aside and grab my breasts repeatedly whilst muttering drunken dirty words, at a house party a man stood in the doorway masturbating vigorously whilst watching my friend and I hug hello, on a packed tram a man whispered into my ear “You think you are so good” and then proceeded to pull my hair and punch me in the head three times, on King Street walking back from the supermarket a group of men surround me and tried to take me down an alley way. It happens a lot and it happens without doing anything “dangerous”. People should be able to walk past the bar without being fondled, they should be able to go to a party without seeing someone masturbate, they should be able to walk down the street without being groped, they should be able to catch a tram without being punched. All of the times and places where I was assaulted were times and places that most people have been themselves. And the time and place where Jill was that night is a time and place where most others have been too, coming out of a bar on a busy, well lit road just living their life not really doing much of anything dangerous.

    • Lorraine Redfern says:

      Hi Stephanie my name is Lorraine and I have just finished reading about all your trials and tribulations that you have come across along your way to where ever you were going. I don’t know how old you are but I hope that you have the presence of mind to take care of yourself. I was dumbfounded when I read your story and I hope you don’t mind my sticking my nose in to your business but take care of yourself and always be vigilant.

  36. LadySnarksalot says:

    Reblogged this on More @LadySnarksalot and commented:
    Nails it perfectly.

  37. Ljubica says:

    I had to stop reading through the comments because WOW….

    Those opposed are either:
    • derailing like it’s their JOB. congrats, you have a grasp on grammar– now let’s actually get to the problem at hand.
    • spouting (internalized) misogyny as if that’s the cure to //anything// [hint: it’s not!]

    How pathetic. :/

    But that’s not really why I’m here — Aleksia, I was hoping to use this as a monologue. I wouldn’t be profiting in any way from it (I’d probably just put it up on youtube), but it’s so wonderfully worded and trenchant. If you don’t want me to, that’s absolutely fine! I just wanted to ask first 🙂

    • missaleksia says:

      That’s completely fine, Ljubica! Actually, it’s kind of amazing. If you wouldn’t mind just including a link to this post wherever you put it up on the internet, that’d be great. And of course, I would love to see it if you do proceed 🙂

      • Ljubica says:

        Hey there! It’s been quite a while since I decided to record this and asked, but life got in the way… until now! I just uploaded it. I hope you like it!! 🙂

  38. quotingeccentricity says:

    Reblogged this on quotingeccentricity.

  39. Lorraine Redfern says:

    I look back on Gillian Meagher from the moment she stepped out of the bar that she was partying in with her friends and I also think about her male friend who asked her if she would like him to walk her home, not once but twice. Gillian Meagher was doomed for some reason or another, just a sweet pretty lady who unfortunately may have been too over whelmed by the person standing in front of her and felt that there was no where to go. I really hoped in my heart of heart that Gillian would be found alive, like so many other caring people but it wasn’t to be.and all that is left now are the memories of a darling daughter.. Gillians parents must be devastated as parents are when they lose a child, my mother and father were in deep shock when my younger sister died so many years ago and it took such a long time to get over it.

  40. miraaanda says:

    This post is everything I think every time I’m given yet another piece of advice on how to avoid sexual assault. While some of the advice is good (though usually if it is, I’ve heard it before), some of it just… I was once told that “predators look out for girls with long hair, so either keep it short or keep it in a pony tail.” And if I lose my hair tie or forget to tie it back, have I then taken a terrible risk, costing me my right to walk safely home at night? Good grief.
    Anyway, very well-said, you deserve all the applause.

  41. Sharon Watson says:

    I have contacted Dr Patricia Petersen about you Missy as you have publicly and wrongly defamed her. Are you aware that you can be sued for $750,000 for what you have written about her? SHAME ON YOU!!!! It appears that Dr Petersen was attacked by Jill Meagher’s alleged attacker and you have attempted to play politics by defaming her!!! I checked into the Jill Meagher fundraiser and the police informed me that the money was passed on to assist women receive self defence classes. You owe her a BIG apology and I hope that she sues the crap out of you. I AM DISGUSTED BY WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!!!!!

    • missaleksia says:

      Sharon, all I did was pass on the concerns of a reader who tried to contact Ms Petersen about her fundraising and was unable to get a response. I didn’t accuse anyone of any specific breach and I made the source of my information quite clear. I simply wanted to issue a warning about ALL fraudulent fundraising activity in the wake of such disasters, as it’s a frequent problem. Perhaps Ms Petersen could take these reactions on board as constructive feedback on how to promote future fundraising efforts. I hope you and your caps lock key have a lovely evening.

  42. I was always alert and tried to be careful having run into a couple of flashers over the years, but sometimes circumstances place you in a dangerous position. I had a lecture go overtime and was late getting into the CBD for work. I usually park near the restaurant and walk back with another member of staff, but this night, frantic to find somewhere I parked and ran for work.
    We had a late supper booking and I walked out of work at 1am and suddenly remembered my car was a few blocks away. When I turned into the street that had been busy at 6pm, it was deserted and fairly dark. What to do? I wanted to get home and knew my workmates had all headed off or been picked up. Could i bang on the door and alert someone in the kitchen? I knew calling would be no good, straight to the answering machine.
    So I decided to risk it and walked confidently, I don’t know where he came from, but after 5 minutes or so realized I was being followed by a man who was speeding up and focused on me. I kicked off my shoes and ran for my life…I got away, just, but it was close. I was told later by the Police there had been other attacks in that area over the last year or so.

    Since that day I’m more careful and try not to leave anything to chance…but things can still happen, your lift or taxi doesn’t arrive, mobile phone runs down, car breaks down. I know Jill Meagher sent her husband a text, “Meet me at the pub” but he’d fallen asleep and didn’t get the text…we’re all only human.
    There is only so much we can do….some of us get lucky and carry on with our lives. There are things we can do to lower the risk, but we can never totally eliminate the risk…also, luck plays a big part, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Did anyone see the movie Sliding Doors?

  43. Meizac says:

    Reblogged this on Meizac and commented:
    This piece speaks for itself.

  44. khanyisile says:

    It really hurts to listen to people talk about “what would’ve happened if she wasn’t wearing such a short skirt” it takes the focus off the real issue. The real issue here is that some men think they can do whatever they want to women and society blames those women. Very interesting peace. Thanx for writing it

  45. Asking questions are actually nice thing if you are not understanding something fully,
    except this piece of writing presents fastidious
    understanding yet.

  46. Pingback: #noexcuseforrape | kill your darlings, kill your darlings

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