So here ends a terrible week, made worse by the fact that I was in a newsroom for that time.
It was a perfectly nice newsroom but I was a privy to a lot of shocking detail, particularly surrounding Jill Meagher.
So I was there when people discussed the off-the-record briefing, there when people made constant, bordering on distasteful jokes about how the hubby did it/actual genuine belief aired with confidence, there when a journalist was sent to Sydney Road to snap a pic of the massing flower tributes, and there to hear someone make a call to Tom Wright (the colleague who offered to take Jill home) and leave his details and request an interview, AS IF he wasn’t probably just going through one of the worst ordeals & unlikely to be lounging around to chat to reporters
And I sat listening and watching as the events updates themselves, looking as the newspapers struggled to keep up with the pace of things
As well as look with growing horror at the sidebar stories. Perhaps this is why I feel strongly about this, as I was constantly in the throes, rather than waiting hours between news reports.
But also, because of the random senselessness of the attack. The grisly vomit inducing details haven’t all been shared. The life that was taken, needlessly. And you don’t need to check the golden ratio to see that Jill is and was beautiful, someone who looked like she was radiating kindness, and would be good to have around. She even looked a bit like Jess/sprinkledwords, which chilled me.
But even if she had looked like a rat’s backside and enjoyed drowning rats and dubstep, she didn’t deserve the indignity, the horror and pain of her last hours
And her family too, don’t need the filler stories produced to keep newspapers selling— tips for women! look at all the flowers! do we need CCTV? Jill sent a final text to Tom! look at the bush grave that was actually a hole!
I should say this for the outlet I was at, they report breaking news, usually objectively, but they were still complicit in this media circus
And much has been made about women late at night. From Neil Mitchell’s ‘party girl’ comment to the patronising tips lists making comments like ‘no woman should be walking in this alleyway late at night.’
The worst I read was the story in the Age about how statistically, men are usually killed more often than women, and women are sexually assaulted and killed by people they know. Jill’s case is a rare one, yay! Just don’t hang out with sex offenders and killers, they often introduce themselves that way when you meet them, so watch out!
It has only been a week, almost exactly as I type this, and I am scared. I am nervous and jumpy, and unsure of myself wherever I am. So often I have made the walk home in the dark by myself, to save anyone the hassle of making the 5-10 minute car ride to fetch me, because it’s a wasteful inconvenience, even on my poorly lit street. Even in daylight I have swanned around with impunity, not thinking of any creepy or crazy behaviour, safe in my bubble, headphones in. So often I have gotten lost in laneways and side streets, confused and mindless.
I suppose it has caught our attention because it could have been anyone, really. We’ve all had close calls, we’ve probably partied in Brunswick and walked those same streets.
We need a reversal in our culture, which puts the onus on the victim and trivialises rape. Just last Thursday I was having a late, raucous lunch with friends and we discussed this - that ingrained mindset of people who blame everyone else but their inabilities to control themselves. Nobody asks to be raped, which is after all not just about sex, but power and gratification, seizing control over someone and enjoying the struggle and pain . Nobody asks for their life to
be taken, when they had made so much of it & had more if it to come. Nobody asks for it.
But yet I’m terrified. I know it should be my right to walk wherever I want, however I want. But I’m still going to look over my shoulder, slip my keys into my knuckles and hold tight to my hairspray.
I shouldn’t have to take taxis for ten minute walks, or turn down events because it’ll just be too hard to get home. Jill Meagher shouldn’t have to have spent her last few hours in panic and unfathomable pain. It’s violent criminals with chilling histories who should be afraid to walk the streets, not the people they prey upon as easy targets.
But I’ve already written too much. I can barely sleep, my blood pressure is sky high and I cry at the newspapers. It shouldn’t be me, or you, or Jill.
But regardless it is, and the only comfort available is that she is far away from any man who could hurt her, and that goodness and justice still exist in some form. And that alleged killers will get what they, and not anyone else, deserves.
I’m very glad this woman is going to be a journalist.