“clumsily crafted messages aimed at women don’t make us safer” Where’s the lie?

CW / TW sexual abuse

A post on Facebook, attached to this article https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/everyday-steps-women-take-that-would-shock-men/news-story/8328c96eeff6211bc62e941c5dc542f8#.qba1i

By Nina Funnell

Please read, please share, please credit Nina for the labour of articulating something so relatable to many, and if not relatable- so important to understand.

She writes:

“All day I have been dealing with men telling me “it’s just common sense” to tell grown women not to walk home alone.

I’ve already explained all the reasons why this is unhelpful and can actually increase perpetration by deterring victims from reporting for fear of being blamed or judged. While also normalising for perpetrators the idea that women are partly responsible for any violence you perpetrate against us. While ALSO deflecting attention away from the far more common source of threat: men known to the victim.

And yet, these random men- just like the police- persist in telling women what to do, ‘for our own good’.

So I’m going to break this down really slowly.

Telling a five year old child who has never been to the beach to wear sunscreen is ‘common sense’.

Telling a burns victim to wear sunscreen is not common sense – it’s just an insensitive dick move, because you know what? THEY ALREADY KNOW.

Telling a woman to ‘take precautions’ in relation to sexual harassment and assault is also a dick move. Why?

Because we already know.

We’ve known since the first time you read us Little Red Riding Hood and we ‘got the message’ not to talk to strangers, walk alone, or wear ‘slutty’ red outfits.

We got the message when our friends/ sisters/ aunties or mothers disclosed their stories.

We got the message and we get the message every time we see coverage of a case like Jill Meagher and there is that silent persistent whisper in the back of our minds that says ‘it could have been you. It could EASILY have been you.’

We got the message when we read the stats that at least 1 in 5 of us will be sexually assaulted at some point in our lives (and the other four will learn to live in dread of it.

But most of all, we got the message, when we got our first scars.

Because here is the thing. As adult women, we are all already burns victims.

All of us.

We all have scars and burns and stories to tell. Some are horrific gaping wounds, while others are more like paper cuts- so small, they seem insignificant and even imperceptible- but they hurt all the same.

So when someone who doesn’t have those same kinds of scars tries to tell us what to do (because lets be honest, it’s virtually always a white, male copper who thinks he’s enlightening us with his wisdom), that makes it doubly abhorrent.

The more I think about the gulf in this debate, I think it stems from our differing experiences of public space.

That is, the reason why I think ‘average men’ think it’s fine for police to issue these cautions to women, is because most men have not internalised sexual threat as omnipresent the way women have. They don’t on a subliminal level worry about being sexually assaulted when they go for jogs, or catch trains or go on blind dates… and so they assume that women are the same. And they assume that a helpful reminder might put something on our radar which isn’t already there.

I can’t speak for all women, but I can speak for me: there’s NO NEED.

So please, like most women, I already micromanage my behaviour on a daily basis to prevent sexual assault and harassment. And (newsflash!) it actually doesn’t work with any reliability anyway! But I especially don’t need an individual who doesn’t have that everyday experience dispensing unsolicited advice as though he’s the expert.

Once again, if we want to prevent sexual assault and harassment we’re better off educating early on consent, respectful relations and gender equity. We’re better off building communication skills, helping develop tools to deal with sexual rejection. We’re better off investing in mens behaviour change and so on.”

See link for more from Nina.

RIP Eurydice Dixon.