The fear is ingrained in all women
WHEN you write a column on a regular basis, you're often wracking your brain for the next big thing. You're watching and reading the news thinking, "What can I say about this?"
For the past two weeks, I've been sitting on the idea for this column, wondering how I will articulate how I feel without enraging the people around me.
I don't think I can. So I'm going to say what I feel and wait for the shoe to drop.
No matter how much you believe there is no difference between the way men and women are treated in society, you're going to be wrong.
Two weeks ago, all over social media, and in the media, between my female friends and I, we were all talking about the fear that is instilled in women at a young age and how that translates into adult life.
When the news broke of Eurydice Dixon's rape and murder while walking home on her own at night, it was coupled with women from all over the country pouring their hearts out about the "unspoken" rules that come with being a woman.
I'll put it to you this way - when the sun goes down and you are walking alone, do you feel nervous when people walk towards you? Do you feel like you have to check over your shoulder every chance you get? Do you feel like you have to ring your friend, your parents, your significant other for the duration of the walk, just in case something happens? Because I do.
You may be thinking - but how often does something actually happen? Well, I can't give you exact figures, but if you look at the latest Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures from the 12 months to March 2018 for the Coffs/Clarence area, there were:
740 domestic violence offences
831 non-domestic violence assault offences
156 sexual assault offences
216 indecent assault and other sexual offences.
Taking into account that not all of those would be violence or assault against women and that not all offences would have been reported, those numbers are still way too high.
When you look at results like this, you know it's not happening to EVERY woman, but it's happening to too many of them.
I've had the argument with so many people that I shouldn't be worried about walking alone, I shouldn't be concerned about the person walking towards me. But I am, and I will be until the way society treats women changes.
Take the following for an example of the difference between a situation where a man died and where a woman died.
The entirety of Sydney's Kings Cross has lockouts imposed and strict changes that come through parliament because of one man's horrible, horrible death from a one-punch attack. The response to Eurydice's death was to have police officers, the media and people in the general public suggest women should be taking more care of themselves, and watch out for any kind of threat.
Well, I have a message for everyone who thinks women should spend more time "looking out for themselves" - we do it every day. That is why we make the phone call while we're walking home. That is why we are always glancing over our shoulder, and listening to music with only one earphone in.
We are constantly afraid of what could happen.
We are taught this at some point, but I can't really work out when. My mum never sat me down and said: "There are bad people in this world, you should be afraid every minute of your life." In fact, she taught me the opposite.
But she did worry I was exposing too much skin, that I was being too careless with the way I behaved.
While there is a big generational gap between my mum and I - she grew up in a time when women were paid less then men (even more so than now), were treated like second-class citizens and were not given the same freedoms that I have today.
When I have children, I'd like to not worry about those things. I'd like to not worry that if I ever have a daughter, when I send her out into the world she has to be worried about what everyone else is thinking and doing.
But I also have a duty, if I have a son, to teach him the right way to behave.
One of the biggest things I grapple with in today's society is how a lot of people will say sexist and revolting things - about men and women - without thinking about the consequences.
When your mate talks about someone in a disgusting way, do you pull them up or let it slide? Do you stand your ground about what you believe in or just let everyone say and do what they want?
Unless we start talking about these issues and having open and frank conversations about how we treat each other, especially other women, this s--- is never going to change.
We need to start educating each other about the right way to treat people.
Instead of laughing when your mate tells a rape joke, speak up. It's wrong, and there is no right time or place for them.
When your mate says something sexist and degrades someone else, call them out.
We need to be the change we want to see in the world.