Eurydice Dixon & the myth of women "being careful"

Eurydice Dixon & the myth of women “being careful”

No. Say it isn’t so. It is unimaginable. Every detail is gut-wrenching.

It is literally the stuff of nightmares but it’s not stuck in the confines of anyone’s mind. It is the actual and inexplicable fate that Eurydice Dixon met.

The 22-year old comedian was metres from her Melbourne home in the early hours of Wednesday morning when she was raped and murdered.

“I’m almost home safe” she had messaged a friend at midnight, before she discovered she was not safe. She never made it home.

Those who knew Dixon – personally and professionally – have praised her incredible talent, her wisdom and her sensibility as being well beyond her years.  It is clear that Dixon’s potential was vast.

She was a staunch feminist, very funny and unafraid of venturing into territory others would avoid. Her friends have variously described her as unique, amazing and bold.

One doesn’t need to be filled with incredible promise for their murder to be mourned but in Dixon’s case it compounds the senseless misery.

Dixon had successfully performed a stand-up gig in the Melbourne CBD before having a drink with a close friend. The pair then went to the supermarket to pick up something to eat before parting ways. He went to catch a train and she walked home, as she had done many times before, through Princes Park in North Carlton.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning her body was discovered, lifeless, and we are all reminded, in the worst way possible, that violence against women isn’t a distant threat. It is deadly.

Predictably enough, Victorian police were soon “reminding” Melbourne citizens to take responsibility for their personal safety and ‘carry phones’. As if this would have prevented Dixon’s murder.

It is salt in the wound we have grown accustomed to: it arises whenever something like this takes place.

It is easier – in many ways – for us all to believe that there is a specific set of behaviours that if we adhere to we will avoid anything untoward occurring. It is a fiction.

It ignores the abysmal fact – as many have pointed out – that the home is actually the most dangerous place for lots of women.

Murder and rape and violence do not just occur in parks late at night. They take place in homes far more often. These crimes are not always committed by strangers in the dark: more often they are carried out by someone who knows the victims.

After Alison Baden-Clay was killed by her husband, no one told women to be ‘careful’ at home. Last month, after the horrendous Margaret River shootings no one suggested that Cynda Miles, or her daughter Katrina, had been unwise to have been at home.

It is why “being careful” is an unrealistic safeguard: it is a nebulous proposition that takes the onus off perpetrators. It is a myth that seeks to hold victims accountable.

Eurydice Dixon had let friends know where she was and she had her phone with her. She was coming home from work and buying into any narrative where that is “risky” requires serious interrogation.

How do we expect women to support themselves if they don’t work? Are they supposed to have jobs with working hours in daylight? How exactly is that going to be financially viable? Are women expected to have drivers? How exactly would that be paid for?

Plenty have acknowledged that a young comedian catching a taxi home is unrealistic but even if it wasn’t, that is no guarantee of no harm. Terrible things have been known to take place in taxis and Ubers too.

Jane Gilmore succinctly captures the impossible dilemma for women here:

Eurydice Dixon has risen to national prominence for the worst reason imaginable. She should have become a household name for her intelligence and her talent. Instead we mourn her murder. And despite not knowing her, having read what I have about Dixon, I am quite sure she would be fairly unimpressed with her legacy being muddled with the myth that women “being careful” will ensure they are free from violence.

She did nothing wrong. A young man who decided to rape and kill a woman did something very very wrong and working to ensure that happens less and less is where every bit of attention needs to lie.

Rest in peace, Eurydice Dixon.

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