This morning we heard some troubling news for women.
First, a chilling audio was leaked of the night Warriena Wright went on a Tinder date with Gable Tostee and ended up falling to her death from the 14th-storey balcony. The audio replays Tostee’s voice threatening to throw Wright off the balcony.
Second, we heard about how a Brazilian man Sailson Jose das Gracas killed 37 women “for fun”. He told the police no matter how long he was jailed for, he would continue killing women as soon as he is released. The man described the thrill of stalking women at their homes and waiting for a moment at dawn to enter and murder them.
Both of these scenarios are the stuff of our nightmares. Unfortunately, they are very real and they happen every week. These scenarios demonstrate two things: the first is that women have been and will be the target of attacks in the most basic sense – the story of the killer hiding in the shadows is still alive and well. The second, however, is that technology such as Tinder has certainly made it easier for attackers to find victims and made tragic incidents more frequent.
The pressure for single women to use apps like Tinder means we are more vulnerable than ever. Meeting a man who has sought us out on the Internet is inherently dangerous given that men like das Gracas exist. So now that Tinder and other online dating sites are the accepted avenue through which to find relationships, and given that we know by doing so we are putting ourselves in danger, how do we cope with competing interests of fulfilment and safety?
The question we all end up asking is this: how on earth can we keep ourselves safe?
But the truth is it is not on us. While of course we should heed all the advice we are given about keeping ourselves safe, the truth is there is nothing that we can do to completely protect us from attackers like these. The onus is on the structures we rely on to protect us from harm; the police, the justice system, to acknowledge the extent of the problem and accept the fact that finding a way to stem it is an emergency.
Of course there is also an element that we need to reform our entire culture until we treat women and girls so well that they are no longer in danger of hateful attacks. There is no silver bullet for achieving this kind of change, but ensuring our legal system and law enforcement take it seriously is an important place to start.