It’s been little over a month since Eurydice Dixon’s body was found on Wednesday 13 June. One thing we all can agree on is the innocence of the victim and the guilt of the individual that attacked her.
The past weeks have seen men — all men — be blamed as the root of the problem in left-leaning media.
On 18 June, Senator Hanson-young appeared on Sunrise, saying:
‘I think that women around this country are sick and tired of being made to feel responsible for the fact that men cannot control themselves and deal with their own issues. It’s not women’s fault that men behave like morons and like pigs.’
It’s important to acknowledge that some men have violent tendencies, and work on trying to prevent them from spiralling out of control. But more than that, we should acknowledge that those violent and abusive individuals aren’t only men.
Anger-management and emotional intelligence needs to be taught early on in our homes and schools. Both to men and women.
But what about in the meantime? Well unfortunately, Australia won’t let women defend themselves.
Pepper spray (as well as mace and capsicum spray) aren’t available to women. Instead, women are told to carry their phones for safety, and place their keys between their knuckles. Both of which aren’t always practical.
So when Senator Fraser Anning introduced a motion on 28 June which would allow women to be permitted to use pepper spray for self-defence, it was surprising that the majority of politicians saw this motion as a way to put onus on women.
Greens Senator, Janet Rice spoke against the motion, saying:
‘The greens oppose this ill-conceived, blundering and harmful motion. If senator Anning really wants the government to ensure that innocent citizens are protected from harm, might I suggest that he focus his attention on inventions that prevent men’s violence. The last thing that women in Australia need now is another man in power telling us that we are responsible for violence against us. Senator Anning motion puts the onus on women to go to extreme lengths to ensure our safety, when the priority must be to eradicate men’s violence. That’s where the problem is. That’s where the responsibility lies. That’s where government interventions need to be focused.’
During Mrs Rice’s speech, senator Hanson-Young can be heard saying ‘that’s right’ and ‘hear hear’ at various points.
However, the reaction from Australian women seems to paint a very different picture.
Women seeking self-defence on the rise
The number of women seeking self-defence classes to learn how to fight off an attacker has spiked since the death of Eurydice Dixon. Which is not unusual, according to senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne, Kirstin Diemer.
Ms. Diemer commented about the way we raise women, and how self-defence is aiding women to an extent.
‘It can be very helpful, particularly because we bring up girls to be less physical — we bring them up to be accommodating, to be agreeable, as peacemakers.’ she said.
But this cannot be said for domestic abuse cases, where one in four women experience violence at home, compared to the one in 11 women who experience violence from a stranger.
It is true that the agreeable qualities in some women can potentially be an enabler of violence against all women.
‘It [self-defence] won’t help so much with women at home, they are already putting in place defensive tactics to protect themselves and protect their children in the best ways that they know,’ Ms Diemer said.
Existing tactics are not working
Clearly, existing tactics aren’t working and that is cause enough for change.
We must highlight personal responsibility, and recognise that individuals are in control of their actions.
So, as well as teaching all men to acknowledge aggressive tendencies in our society, we must also teach all women to do the same.
What if we taught our women to be more assertive, less agreeable and take agency for their knowledge and safety? Don’t mistake this as victim blaming, it’s not. Rather we could be burning the candle from both ends.
It is less about what men need to acknowledge, and more about what we as a society, as individuals who have personal responsibility, can do.
We need to allow women to carry pepper spray as self-defence for the situations that are out of their control…and we need to raise our women to be more assertive in situations where they can affect change. Especially at home.