A Murder in Australia

On June 20, 2018, Australian comedienne Eurydice Dixon was raped and murdered in Melbourne. In response, local police warned women to be careful when walking home alone late at night, as Dixon did after her comedy gig at a bar.

Feminists denounced that warning. The New York Times (Baidawi, 2018) reported the words of Tiara Shafiq:

We get told all the time that we have to be the ones that have to be situationally aware — that we are the ones that have to protect ourselves . . . . Most of us are already doing those things. . . . There’s not as much attention being placed on the perpetrators, being placed on people to not rape and not attack people. . . . Every time this happens, there’s the statement about how women should be more careful, and we’re just tired of it.

The Times said that Daniel Andrews, the premier of the state of Victoria, “appeared to distance himself from the language used by the police. Andrews said, “Our message to Victorian women is this . . . . Go about your day exactly as you intend, on your terms. Because women don’t need to change their behavior. Men do.” The Times concluded with quotes from two women who attended a vigil for Ms. Dixon: “A woman should be allowed to walk alone, and not be attacked” and “People should have freedom to walk around as they wish.”

Some of those statements were reasonable and appropriate. Some weren’t. In any case, as often happens when people get excited about a cause, most of the relevant information was left out of this narrative.

First, note the politician’s predictable grandstanding. Premier Andrews threw the cops under the bus, for offering their usual perfunctory warning that, until now, had apparently not drawn much of a critical response; and then he threw the entire male gender under the bus, alleging that rapes demonstrate that men “need to change their behavior.” This is the war on men as usual, as illustrated in the #MeToo movement and in the ballyhooed complaints about rape on Australian campuses: take one incident, or one type of incident, committed by men who are or should be in prison; exaggerate and overstate it to the maximum possible extent; and thus use it as an opportunity to disparage all men, regardless of guilt or innocence.

Second, note the classic feminist setting: here, once again, we have white women looking out for their own, and to hell with everyone else. To its credit, the Times reported the reactions of

other activists [who] noted that [Dixon’s] death probably would have gone largely unnoticed had she not been white. Some research suggests that Indigenous women are up to 80 times as likely to experience violence as other Australians.

It goes without saying that there have been precious few, if any, vigils and protests on behalf of men who, like women, do not necessarily have “freedom to walk around as they wish.” Crime Statistics Australia reports that, up to 2013, men in Australia were about 50% more likely than women to be victims of physical assault. By 2016 (apparently the most recent year for which data were available), the gap had narrowed, but men were still about 10% more likely to be so victimized, and the assault rate for women continued to be lower than it had been five years earlier. The Australian Bureau of Statistics further indicates that, for all years from 2010 through 2016, men were between 70% and 123% more likely than women to be victims of homicide and related offenses.

So let us be clear: this show of concern, on behalf of women like Ms. Dixon, is not about civic spirit, about being against violence, or about common human decency. This is about privileged white women demanding an even greater degree of privilege.

Obviously, the world needs less rape, and less sexual assault. And there are two ways to pursue reductions in those crimes. One way is to set up women as the adversaries of men, and to set up white women as the whiners who show scant concern for the hardships of nonwhite women. That is the feminist way. The other way is to get outside of one’s own little box, to find some way of becoming at least a tiny bit less selfish, and to think for once of what will make a better world for all of us.

If you’re thinking of the public good, you don’t wait until one of your own kind is victimized, and then demand special consideration. You also don’t seize upon the episode as an excuse to disparage innocent people merely because of their gender. Instead, you get serious about fighting victimization against anyone, even if they aren’t like you — and in that way you join the rest of society in seeking to identify, treat, and if necessary imprison the dangerous crazies at an early moment, after their first crimes, instead of waiting until they choose your type as their target.

I realize that such a suggestion will not appeal to those who feel driven to signal their virtuousness to one another, in the quasi-medieval struggle of Good vs. Evil on behalf of Womanhood. I’m only suggesting it because, well, it is common sense.

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