I don’t normally discuss such serious issues, but Melbourne is focused on the violent death of comedian Eurydice Dixon. The other night, close to home, as she returned from her stand up gig she was attacked. She had texted that she was safe minutes before this attack occurred as she crossed Princes Park.
With the outpouring of grief has come the usual comments from the usual commentators. Police have warned women to take extra precautions, and women have responded that we always take extra precautions and that our ‘situational awareness’ is a sense that is never completely turned off, but undeniably, it doesn’t always make us safer.
Some have likened this incident to that of Jill Meagher’s murder, again, minutes from home in another part of Melbourne, and the subsequent despair and anger that inspired a march to take back the night. Groups may well be able to take back the night, but singly? Is it naive to believe women can ever be safe?
Then again, I have been thinking about events like this since I was twenty. In my second year of university, my classmate Mary was murdered. It was nothing less than devastating for everyone who knew her, even slightly. She was attacked by a stranger while at work, in the middle of the day, in the centre of a different city. I will never forget her, nor the nature of her death. The odd thing about such events is that they do not stop the world, despite all, the world continued. Mary’s death is thus not a lesson or cautionary tale. She was doing things she’d done before, in a street where people worked and shopped and continue to do so. More than twenty years later and women are still attacked in their homes, and at work, on the street, during the day and in the deepest night by strangers, by people known to them and by those who profess to love them.
Today, I wonder if those who wanted something to change after Jill Meagher’s murder and now Ms Dixon’s murder, have forgotten the countless other murders and how people have demanded change since forever. It is interesting though that social media has galvanised collective responses in a way that did not happen when I was young.
There will be a vigil in memory of Eurydice Dixon in the park where she died. I wish that such vigils become unnecessary, unneeded. And I try to recall Mary, my philosophy classmate from long ago, because while her life was violently taken from the world, the memory of her should not be.