*content warning: this post contains mentions of murder and sexual assault*
I have thought on and off about writing this for a while now. It is largely inspired by the murder of Grace Millane, a young woman who was backpacking in New Zealand, and the moment when the solo female traveller community – and indeed women as a whole – finally fought back.
As a woman myself I feel like it would be biased for me to say that the issues disproportionately affect men and women, but I’m going to say it anyway – I am not aware of any man who has been told he deserved to die just because he used a dating app. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, I’m just saying that it’s not as prominent. I am also very aware of a number of stories about gay men who are targeted through similar apps. This letter is mostly targeting people who verbally attack women who are victims, but the same principles apply to all victims in reality.
For anybody who is not aware there is a great divide amongst the solo travel community about whether or not you should ‘go out’ alone. I personally don’t, but ‘going out’ and socialising in general is not a big part of my life anyway. For some people, especially those who go travelling for a long period of time, going out and meeting new people is incredibly important. They should be able to do this without fear, but the reality is that they will always be told time and time again not to do it, to find other people to go with. What happens if you’re alone and you get drugged? Who’s going to notice if you get kidnapped? The unfortunate reality that going solo makes you incredible vulnerable, regardless of how empowering it is, and it is foolish to not devote some time considering the risks. Most people do consider the risks.
I think I’ve gone a little off course, but this is just a ramble of a post anyway so please bear with me. I should probably explain, for anyone who isn’t aware, why there was such a backlash after Grace’s death. It appeared that she was killed during a date with a man who she met on a popular dating app (I believe he’s now be found guilty in court), and naturally this was a point which certain media outlets decided to make the focus of their reports. Out of the wood with enthusiasm crawled the “she deserved it” and “she had it coming” crowd. They rear their ugly heads almost every time somebody is raped and/or murdered. Their logic is that you deserve to be attacked for a wide variety of reasons, including:
- being alone (being alone in a foreign country is the cherry on top for these people)
- wanting to meet people
- talking to strangers on the internet
- wearing clothes, or not wearing clothes (it literally doesn’t matter what you wear)
- being of a certain age
- being pretty
As you can probably ascertain from this list literally anything can make you a target of the She Deserved It brigade. I’m not saying that these people who say someone “had it coming” would ever attack someone themselves, and in most instances I’m not sure they would say it if it was one of their loved ones who was victimised. I do think that their automatic response is almost as bad as attacking someone though, because in reality it is another form of attack.
So this is why people suddenly started hitting back. Grace Millane was effectively the straw that broke the camel’s back. The female solo traveller community is kind of like a sisterhood of strangers, and we mourn these kind of events all together. We all get hit hard every time because it’s like losing a friend or a sister. We may travel alone but in reality we’re never alone. So when you say “she had it coming”, you don’t only attack the victim you actually attack every single one of us.
Women finally felt that the time was right to speak out about just how scary being a woman can be sometimes. Loud and proud they wanted you to know that
nobody deserves it.
Nobody, not a single soul on this earth, deserves to be raped. Nobody is asking to be raped (consensual rape as a kink is by definition not actual rape). No human deserves to have their life taken away at the hands of another human. There’s not a person in the world who deserves to be attacked (in any form) for just being who they are.
In fact, while I’m on the rant train can we just add people who try and imply that somebody is so undesirable that they were “lucky” to be raped to the list of people who need to bang their heads together?
Any one of us should be able to meet another person and not have to fear for our life, or our wellbeing. The fear of attack just shouldn’t have to exist. Take a moment just to process the animalistic nature of fearing that we are prey to our own species.
Thankfully the majority of people are reasonable and empathetic human beings, but if you’re one of these people that thinks people deserve to be raped, assaulted or murdered for just getting on with their lives and not bothering anybody…please sit down and have a word with yourself. Challenge yourself on why you have these thoughts and feel it is necessary to say these things out loud. These people are real people with loved ones and it could just as easily be you or your loved one that’s targeted next. Remember that.
Anyway I think that’s enough rambling from me. Take care, and be kind to one another,