I don’t need to tell you how disgusting it is that headlines like this still exist – but I’m going to anyway.
Where do I even start with this one?
Earlier this week an 18 year-old girl was walking home from a nightclub when she was bashed unconscious for telling the three men who were following her home that she ‘wasn’t interested’.
I’ll give you a minute to breathe through the rage because I needed a second when I heard.
This isn’t the first instance of violence against women this year – it’s far from it. At least 26 women have been murdered in Australia this year for no reason other than the fact that they were women.
Instead of teaching men to respect women, we teach women how to protect themselves. We teach them to keep their keys in their hands and to never walk home alone. We blame women and tell them they deserve it when they stray from these protective measures instead of blaming the men committing the violence.
Not that it should matter but Gabrielle Walsh did “everything right” that night.
She took all the precautions we shouldn’t have to take as women to get home safely; she walked home with her friend Kyle McKeown. But it seems even male company isn’t enough to keep us safe anymore.
The pair had taken off their shoes for the walk home when they were approached by a trio of men who said they liked Walsh’s feet.
The trio continued to follow Walsh and McKeown despite their obvious efforts to ignore them and walk away.
“They kept walking behind trying to talk to me. Eventually, I turned around and said ‘I’m sorry, I’m not interested,” Walsh explained to The Sun.
One of the men, described to be in his mid-20s asked if Walsh was ‘with specky eyes’, referring to her friend, who was wearing glasses. Sensing the situation was growing dire she told McKeown she wanted to leave but before the pair could get away the unspeakable happened.
One of the men attacked Walsh, hitting her until she was unconscious before the trio proceeded to inflict violence on her friend.
Thankfully, medical assistance was provided by volunteers from a local community partnership appropriately called the ‘Village Angels’. As there was a two-hour wait for an ambulance, Walsh got a taxi to the hospital where she received eye drops and was sent home.
It wasn’t long until she returned unable to see out of her eye due to a clot caused by the impact.
In our culture of victim-blaming, the instinct is to interrogate her.
What was she wearing? Why was she walking home? Was she alone?
The simple answer is that it shouldn’t matter. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for us to grasp the fact that women should be able to walk home at night and not be attacked.
The solution isn’t to teach women self-defense or make sure they are armed with keys or pepper spray. The solution is literally to stop attacking them.
As usual, the internet displayed the worst in humanity with a Tweet popping up that outed some of the more primitive reactions to this incident.
In classic victim-blaming fashion statements like “Such a snowflake. Take up martial arts and learn to fight and this won’t happen” and “It’s equally bad for men” have been floating through the internet once more.
I’ll say it once more for the people in the back (and on Twitter): Women aren’t responsible for being attacked on the streets, the people (typically men) attacking them are.
Before I get bombarded with #NotAllMen hate, let me clear something up.
When I say that men are typically the perpetrators of street violence I am not being an angry feminist and I am not exaggerating. I am stating a fact.
Studies have found that nine out of 10 murders are committed by a male.
I am not saying every single man is violent and women should be afraid of everyone with a penis. I am saying that in terms of the people likely to bash me on my walk home, I would bank on that violence coming from a male. Men are, of course, victims too, as demonstrated in this case, with McKeown also experiencing violence.
This is why we need men to be allies in our fight against violence. We need men to accept this statistic without getting offended and closing off. Believe me, I wish that I could switch off as fast as someone saying ‘not all men’ can switch the subject when confronted with statistics.
Every time something like this happens we are learning that this kind of behavior towards women is acceptable. We are teaching girls that they should be afraid to leave the house and we are teaching men that a woman alone is ‘asking’ for violence.
These social attitudes won’t change until everyone is getting involved in the conversation. The conversation isn’t about angry feminism or defending men who feel they have been wronged when women speak out. This conversation is about putting an end to violence.
And as hard as that is to hear, statistically the only way to stop women (and men alike) from being attacked on the street is for men to stop doing the attacking.
Featured image via pexels.com.