it could have been me a thousand times over

if you’re australian, especially from melbourne, you probably know about the jill meagher case. if not, here are a few news/comment links.

body in a shallow grave
Rape & murder charges laid as police find Jill Meagher’s body

can everybody please calm down about this jill meagher case
if like me you thought your information was inconsequential..
how many meters can i walk on my own at night?

it has been all over the social media (esp facebook) and the shit that passes for broadcast media in melbourne (there’s a media rant coming – you can feel it, can’t you). i probably shouldn’t post too much for legal reasons (although it’s unlikely i’ll be called for jury duty).

but it has been a case of news that spread really quickly. probably because she lived in an area that loads of my friends live in, everyone i knew posted her missing person’s FB post (i didn’t, because everyone i knew already had) and it was front page almost immediately. i must admit to being a teensy bit annoyed that every woman who goes missing doesn’t get this amount of attention, but nonetheless, i kept an eye on the case, even from berlin.

she is a 30-ish smart, confident woman who walked from her local bar towards her home at 2am. a distance of about 100 meters, if that. like she always probably does. in that time, a guy allegedly abducts her, rapes her, kills her and dumps her body 50kms out of town. he apparently lives in the next suburb over.

it could have been me a thousand times over.

i could still be me a thousand times more.

i am a 30-ish, smart, confident woman who walks home at night. i always have. i grew up believing in my right to my own safety and the smarts to carry that out. i have been accosted by dudes asking for handjobs, flashed at, sworn at, called slut/lesbian/whore/showusyourtits, been followed. its a fucking jungle out there.

but i will continue to walk home at night on my own, thanks very much. the only rights we have are the ones we use and if i don’t enact my right to walk in my cities, on my own, without the threat of violence based on my gender, i cease to have that right.

of course, the australian broadcast media, being the minefield of misogynist offal-bags passing for journalists and ‘media personalities’, have naturally used this case to highlight a woman’s choice to walk home after drinks at the local bar as proof that she is a drunk-whore-who-should-have-stayed-at-home-with-her-husband-and-that-she’s-asking-for-it-because-of-it and that’s-what-happens-when-you-don’t-live-in-the-suburbs-and-all-women-should-stay-at-home-from-now-on.

and of course you know what i say to them: get fucked.

you know, if i was in town, i would propose a big fuck-off reclaim the night street party as a memorial to jill (may she rest in peace) and as a middle finger salute to the men who decided that they still need to rape women, and equally to the chauvanist pundit motherfuckers who continue to blame the victim because they have yet to accept that men rape women.

guys, it’s quite simple: if you see a woman walking home on her own at night, don’t rape her.

if you have been raped, here are some peeps you can talk to about it:

rape crisis centre UK
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre
Rape Crisis Center (US)
Rape Crisis  (ZA)
Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (CA)
Toronto Rape Crisis Centre (CA)
Rape Crisis Programs (NYC)
The Turning Point (LA)
NSW Rape Crisis Centre (AU)
Centre Against Sexual Assault VIC (AU)

 And if you have any further information on the Jill Meagher case, call Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000

UPDATE: to the person coming here after searching for ‘jill meagher dress like a slut’, you might wanna check yourself. hard. maybe against a wall.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SlutWalk

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preparing for torture


in a few hours’ time, i will start a new work that uses CIA interrogation techniques to experience what it’s like to ‘listen’ under duress and as a way to interrogate my own listening practice.

the work is influenced by a work of mike parr’s i saw years ago and i’m grateful to have recently been able to pore over the documentation from that performance, including his letters to the gallery director nick tsoutas (from artspace).

the letter gave me an indication of the process behind his performance and the level of preparation. i feel like i haven’t prepared nearly enough – i don’t quite know how to prepare for this, as it’s the first time i’ve pushed myself to this level before. i’ve done 8-hour performances before, but not to this level of imprisonment (i’m in a booth, shackled, naked and strapped.

i’ve tried to follow a little of what i read about mike parr’s process and hopefully i’ll be able to have an outcome half as beautiful and powerful as his.

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do you hit your kids?

The objections to the Occupy uprisings have been fairly predictable: ‘no single cause’ and/or ‘go back to your jobs’ and the charming ‘the police said move on and you didn’t, why is force surprising’/ 
Actually, the second one is a typical response to those who hide behind their jobs and expect others to be accountable for their freedoms. It’s not their fault – standing up for your rights can be scary sometimes.
The first one is a funny response really. The reason that there are a myriad of demands by the Occupy uprisings, especially those I have briefly been part of in Melbourne, is that there are wide-reaching effects of focusing solely on listening to corporate lobbies, and focusing on the singular demands of the 1%.
When that happens, healthcare goes; poverty rises; education is to the privileged, citizens civil liberties are lessened (i’ll go in to that in a minute), fossil fuels are mined and housing gets tight. all of those are worth protesting as a singular cause, sure. but all of them together are the symptoms of corporatism.
Mic check: This is what corporatism looks like!
And to the third one, I’ve taken to asking people ‘do you hit your kids if they don’t do what you want?’ It’s kind of the same response, really.
Until today, i hadn’t been down to City Square to Occupy Melbourne. Clearly, i was resting on my privileged laurels: focusing on work and family first. But when I read the tweets of friends who were in the square and about to be evicted, I decided to finally act.

As Jello Biafra says in this interview, it’s better to do something rather than nothing.

I joined the demonstration and occupied the public spaces of Melbourne. My home town, the place were I vote, where I contribute, where I participate in life as a citizen. It was great to remind myself that my rights are not just on a piece of paper, or something that Someone Else will take care of. I have to contribute to that.
So I did.
I also learned an important lesson about the State liberal government’s focus on public spaces, in the form of their new Public Order Intelligence Group. Sounds sinister already, doesn’t it.
Well, it is kind of sinister. Although technically they were working with the local constabulary – whose demeanour was firm and calm, yet still mostly polite – this squad of overall-wearing, nameless cops were another force altogether.
Yelling at me aggressively, I learned empirically that their hands are rough and hard. And that they believe grabbing someone me by throat and throwing me backwards was the best way to deal with a peaceful protestor. At the time, I was moving, but being pushed in a dense crowd down Swanston St and got wedged against a Police car parked on the road.
It was grossly unnecessary. And, like the old woman I am, I calmly told that man so.
I also learned that they are willing to drag a woman by her hoodie onto the ground and not assist her in getting up again, even when that woman was not resisting, fighting, yelling or contesting – but walking slowly in a packed crowd down the streets of Swanston St.
Yes, kids, that woman was me.
Thankfully, years in moshpits gave me the strength to deal with a pack of unruly men pushing and shoving and yelling and screaming. I was OK. Pantera fans are more intense in a crowd than these new thugs in uniform, but at least they’re more polite.
It’s weird to watch a group of people, moving slowly and purposefully, loudly, but in good spirits and with a sense of community be set upon by the human equivalent of barking dogs. I can’t imagine what the perspective of the individual police officer in this situation is.
As well as contributing to a global uprising, sadly this situation has shown to Melbournians the petticoat of the Victorian Police (just like in the Kennett era): an aggressive bully, willing to strike out at the faintest whiff of conflict; attempting to cover up a sad insecurity complex.
Melbourne, we love you! 
Don’t let them push and shove you!
thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx