Eurydice, Safety and Heroes found Lacking


This past week, a 22 year old comedienne of extraordinary talent, was brutally murdered on her way home from a gig in Melbourne. Her name was Eurydice Dixon. We cried and grieved for a woman most of us had never met nor had the privilege to see perform. We mourned her and we realized that her death holds a mirror to society and our perceived safety. Every woman I know looks behind when they hear footsteps quickening as they walk. We keep our keys in our hands in case they need to be used as a weapon in carparks and when nearing home. We scan our surroundings and check in with friends after they leave our presence or we theirs. We tend to sit in the back of an Uber or taxi, and are hyper-vigilant at all times. Eurydice certainly was vigilant, and it still wasn’t enough, because the onus was on her accused to be a decent human being and not destroy her young life. We know what she was doing out at night; walking home from her work. Nobody has asked what the hell he was doing out.

Last weekend, I opened a Sydney paper and my eyes cast to a front page story. It detailed the abuse two sisters suffered at the hands of several high-profile visitors to her parent’s home in the 70’s. The parents happened to be well-known writers. I realized that I knew one of the men mentioned in the story, and immediately wanted to vomit. He is now deceased, but was one of Australia’s foremost pop artists amongst other titles. I knew him to be quiet and unassuming, and in his later years, professed a religious leaning. I had gone to his home in the Eastern Suburbs countless times, and had numerous conversations with this fellow. I never got the ‘creep vibe’ which women count on to assist in discerning who is to be feared and who isn’t. I recall on one occasion I asked him if he would consider donating some of his art for a charity auction I was involved in. The next day a courier came with signed shirts, prints and posters. I was touched by his generosity. I never saw the lecherous side to his character, but I have no doubt it existed. Repulsed, I gathered the books I had in my library by the girl’s parents. I also gathered up the biography and prints I had from the artist. I wanted nothing to do with either their art nor them, in any capacity.

Looking back I believe that I was spared hell from this artist for the fact that I had already been through hell. My body was damaged and scarred, and I had lost my youthful naiveté by the time we met. We were also always within crowds of people at art openings and parties. I had prided myself on being able to spot a predator at ten paces, and yet in the past few years, a GP I had seen was incarcerated for rape, and I heard that others from my past had been accused of such horror. The link between them was that they all looked normal. They were all educated, charming and seemingly decent. Somehow, it makes the horror worse. They were able to have access to young people, unabated. To be honest, it turns my perceptions on whom is to be trusted upside down and inside out. I feel pressure on a daily basis to keep my daughter safe, whilst she craves liberty of movement the older she gets.

I recall when I was a little girl and would play in the park around the corner, leading onto a dead-end street. There was a vacant block next to the park, overgrown with weeds. I saw a man hiding within the tall grass and was informed by a friend that he had called out to her, beckoning her to come over. I saw him watching me, feeling his gaze before I saw his eyes. I took it upon myself to knock on every door on the street and notify the residence that there was a bad person about. The police were called and it was found that he was a sex offender, with a long history. I didn’t think for one moment that it would have been my fault if anything had happened to me. I was simply at the park for the purpose of playing with friends. As we grow, we are taught that it is up to us to be vigilant, to not take public transport nor walk at night. We must be alert and alarmed at all times. Too bad if we are without a car or need to be out for work or any other reason. The onus goes from the creep in the long grass watching us to the fault of a woman walking by with a purpose.

We start to doubt our own impressions of situations and people as we grow. We worry about making a fuss, about being impolite to the stranger attempting to strike up a conversation, for instance. You know what, girls and boys and grownups have the right to move through their lives and our streets unabated. Eurydice had the right to safely walk home from her gig. The blame is entirely with her killer. The blame lies with the parents of the girl’s whom they didn’t protect in their family home. The blame is with the artist whom I had once admired. I now can’t even bear looking at his face nor hearing his name. The blame is with the creep watching the kids from the long grass, not with the kids playing in the park. I have gathered up the artist and writer’s works; people whom I once looked up to, and have thrown them in the recycling. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the paper came back as cardboard, holding cartons of inspired work by decent men and women?

A Time to Stay Silent and a Time to Use Your Walking Stick!


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A week or so ago, I boarded a bus with my daughter. We sat at the front of the crowded people-mover. My daughter was listening to music on her headphones, and I caught the eye of the lady across the aisle. She was in her sixties with cinnamon-brown eyes and blonde hair, cut into a bob. She appeared to be on her way to work, judging by her green uniform. A male voice up the back of the bus cut through our greetings, and seemed to become louder and more agitated as the moments passed. The bus stopped, and the driver alighted, a new driver coming on shift. After the bus started again, the man’s voice became louder, his speech laced with profanities and threats to all around him. The driver was busy negotiating his way around road works on the highway, and the lady and I exchanged worried looks. We both knew that we were prepared if he started anything. My daughter was oblivious, in her own world, listening to pop songs. If she had heard, she may well have told him to pull his head in. I was glad she hadn’t heard, as she knows no fear. In her world, if someone is being a bully, a nuisance or menacing, you simply demand that they stop. I had a feeling that the woman opposite had seen this man’s behaviour before, as had I. We knew the unspoken rules, of making no eye contact with the offender, remaining silent so as not to provoke him. If and when he did go on his threatened rampage, I was ready with my walking stick! No way was he going to get near the lady opposite, nor my daughter. Twenty pained minutes passed before he alighted-still ranting- and we breathed a sigh of relief. I escorted the lady to the train station, and she said that he had abused the elderly women waiting for another bus, before we came aboard.

This lady was shaking, and I helped her up the steps. Yes, she had seen it before, and it had indeed brought back memories. I sat with her, comforting her as she debriefed from the stressful situation. She had been ready to tackle him, as had I. Anything can happen in our modern world. You can be attacked for doing nothing, and staying mute. As long as there are ladies with walking sticks and people with righteous indignantion burning in their bellies, we will all stay safe. When I left her, she was past the disorientated stage; past the fear. She was angered, and rightly so. She was just trying to get to work, and I was just trying to get my daughter to her classes. Nobody had the right to interfere with our day in that manner. He was ticked off with life, dumping the toxic waste all over strangers on a bus. He probably felt a sight better afterward, whilst we were left shaken. It has taught me that I must teach my daughter when to stay silent, and when to fight. I pray she never needs to put it into practice.