Yesterday, I read a news article about how an Australian man prevented a young woman from being attacked as she was walking home from the train station in the very early hours of the morning.
Which makes that man amazing, by the way, and should be a lesson for everyone: Don’t turn a blind eye. You literally can make a difference. He did. Be that guy.
However, the two main comments about the situation (made by women), were expressing how it was the fault of women and that women needed to take responsibility for their actions – because, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a fool-proof guide to avoiding being raped and murdered. And if you haven’t purchased it, and read it, and followed every instruction in the text, then it’s your fault for not avoiding these situations.
Don’t believe me? Haven’t heard of the book?
Just look at the comment section whenever a woman is assaulted.
These are just a few snippets, but it clearly illustrates the point: Women expect other women to stay safe, and if they’re not, it’s their fault. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you: Go and purchase that fool-proof guide right now.)
Other than the fact that these foolish women are entirely missing the point (that the blame needs to be placed on the perpetrator, not the victim), the issues goes vastly deeper than the standard victim-blaming and shaming that we so often see, no matter how clear-cut the issue or crime.
Kim Kardashian-West was held up at gun point by two men pretending to be police officers in her secure hotel room/mansion thing.
I’m pretty sure we are all aware of the vast Kardashian-West fortune, and the security they have as a result.
Yet, despite the fact that Kim K was supposedly safely in her supposedly secure hotel room, she was robbed at gun point, had $US14 million stolen from her, and tied up and locked in her bathroom.
Hotels – especially the type of hotels Kim and Kanye stay at – have better security than most houses. Certainly better security than my house, where my biggest protection when I’m home alone is my scaredy-cat of a golden retriever (she’s super cute though).
Kim would have felt safe and secure (up until the robbery, of course) – as she should.
Yet these two men bypassed any security the hotel had (and incapacitated them), as well as any Kim had herself.
Whilst there’s been a disgusting amount of lack of empathy from the internet, the point should be clear (and yes, if you’ve been dismissing Kim’s ordeal, shame on you. I’m no fan of Kim, and I can’t point out any of the other Kardashians/Jenners, but what happened to her was terrible. And that should be acknowledged. Would you want your situation to be mocked and dismissed?):
Kim Kardashian, one of the richest women in the world who also has her own personal security, was held at gunpoint and robbed.
And she’s not the first celebrity – I mean rich and famous, not pre-celebrity status – who’s faced such a horrific ordeal.
What about the young singer, Christina Grimmie?
She was gunned down in public.
Despite thousands of people, despite security, she was shot dead for … reasons.
What about Sharon Tate?
She was a famous actress, once married to Roman Polanski (director of The Pianist and Rosemary’s Baby … and convicted paedophile).
She was two weeks away from giving birth when she was murdered in her home along with some of her friends and family members, who were also butchered by members of Charles Manson’s cult.
She was rich.
She wasn’t alone.
She was at home.
She was with both men and women.
She was almost nine months pregnant.
And none of that spared her.
She was still brutally murdered.
So, what’s my point? Why am I picking high-profile famous people, and not every-day people?
To prove that no one is safe.
To illustrate that money can buy security, but it can’t promise safety.
To remind us that no one is untouchable.
These women could afford body guards. Security. They had safe homes, and security measures.
None of the three women mentioned were alone.
Kim K was in her secure hotel room.
She was not out at night, walking alone.
Not doing anything deemed “unsafe” by these women.
In her hotel room.
And that didn’t stop her being the victim of a horrific crime. (Again, no matter what you think of her, being held at gun point, robbed, tied up and locked in your bathroom, all the while wondering if you are going to die, is beyond horrifying.)
Christina Grimme wasn’t alone, either.
She wasn’t walking home, late at night.
She was with friends, family, fans, and security.
Yet she still wasn’t safe.
She was still gunned down by a mad man.
Sharon Tate was pregnant, and in the security of her own home.
She was also surrounded by loves ones, and that didn’t spare her, either.
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no fool-proof way to avoid rape and/or murder.
Yes, we do need to take responsibility for our actions and we do need to do our best to remain safe.
However, we also need to remember that we’re never truly safe – that even if there was a book, and even if you followed every instruction in that book, it would never truly guarantee your safety.
If someone really wants to hurt you, they will find a way.
Being at home doesn’t mean you’re safe. Sharon Tate’s horrific murder story proves that.
Being with people also doesn’t mean you’re safe. (All three women prove that.)
It’s not just the girl walking home at night that can be attacked; it can be the girlfriend, the wife, the friend.
It can be the girl that drinks; it can be the girl who never drinks.
It can be the girl that enjoys sleeping around; it can be the virgin.
It can be the girl who loves wearing tight little skirts; it can be the woman dressed in a burqa.
No one is immune.
Nothing truly ensures your safety, and life gives you no guarantees.
Perhaps we all need to bear that in mind before we start telling women to take responsibility and amend their behaviour, instead of focusing on the real problem:
We need to change the culture that not only allows this to happen but continues to blame the victim, and not the perpetrator.
We need to start holding the right people accountable, instead of blaming the victims for what they could have, should have, and might have done differently.