This article from The Age sounds a lot like victim shaming

My really good photoshop skillz.

Yesterday at work I was trying to avoid any work, so I meandered over to The Age website to catch up on the hot gossip of the east-west link, and how the media and political parties were tarnishing a day we should remember and respect Gough Whitlam.

This article caught my attention immediately over the royal baby bump watch. The article is titled ‘Five tips on how to avoid drunk thugs.’

The recent violent weekend in Melbourne was resonating with me. I half hoped this article may provide some insightful psychology into those who ‘coward punch’ others. The other half of me, however, the stronger half, knew that the title in itself sounded a lot like victim shaming.

Yep, I’m calling you out Aisha Dow and your handful of experts. 

Victim shaming has become a prominent topic in recent times, particularly with sex crimes. We are all familiar with sayings the likes of “she was asking for it in that dress”, “you shouldn’t have gotten drunk then”, and “don’t take nude photos of yourself”. 

Victim shaming is literally wrong. And yes, I’m using the word literally because it is literally morally wrong to blame a victim. 

It actually does not compute in my mind. But I won’t continue my line of thought on the idiocy of people. 

In the following paragraphs I’m going to deconstruct what I don’t like about Aisha Dow’s article for The Age.

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Five tips on how to avoid drunk thugs by Aisha Dow.

At every school anti-violence campaigner Hugh van Cuylenburg visits he gets the same question: what can young people do to avoid becoming the casualty of street violence? While it is clear the innocent victims of many assaults have done nothing wrong – or even everything right – Mr van Cuylenberg and other experts do have some tips for young people to help them keep safe.

She starts off well. This is what spurred on the weak half of me that thought ‘hey! Maybe this has some really cool Martial Art self-defence tips.’ Hugh seems like a cool guy, he is the founder of The Resilience Project which you can read about at your own leisure. 

1. Don’t talk to groups of strangers when out late drinking. “We suggest not engaging in any form of conversation with people that you don’t know,” Mr van Cuylenburg said. Deakin University Associate Professor Peter Miller said it is also a good idea to avoid eye contact and cross the road to avoid groups of young men.

‘Not engaging in any form of conversation with people you don’t know’  – as a young woman who often goes out ‘on the town’ I can assure you this would make for a very boring night. Not every one is out to kill you, in fact, how do you even make friends if you don’t talk to people? 

But what gets me here? ‘Avoid groups of young men.’ This is absolute gender stereotyping. I doubt anyone reading this could justify this – if you are a young person, old person,  or non-person alien, that you should avoid all groups of young men. Most young men a very pleasant, some young men are violent. 

My personal advice is to go out with your friends, talk to new people in bars and engage with a group of young men if they’re out having a good time like you. Living your life in fear is like never swimming in the ocean because you’ll be eaten by a shark, or never driving because you’ll have an incident. 

2. Don’t linger at “hotspots” where people who have been drinking congregate. These include taxi ranks and the outside of clubs, pubs and fast-food outlets, Mr van Cuylenburg said.

I’m not sure the last time Hugh went out, but if you want a taxi, you have to linger. If some drugged up asshole decides he wants to smash some face it is not your fault if you get hit because you were waiting for a taxi. You want to get home safely. You didn’t ask for this by waiting in a “hotspot”.

Use your best judgement and get out of the way if things get heated. But don’t ignore your need to get home safely and your carby-oily fast food craving so you don’t feel so empty and sick. I implore you to continue going on your nightly behaviours without living in fear. Judgement is key here. And making sure assholes know they’re going to get locked up for a long time. 

Don’t be a violent asshole. It hurts others and ruins lives.

3. Stay with your friends, avoid being alone. “I think when you’re by yourself you’re slightly more vulnerable and can present an easier target,” Mr van Cuylenburg said.

This is fine. Why are you alone anyway? Go back to your friends and drink and be merry! But if you are alone and you find yourself in a terrible situation – it’s not your fault! 

4. Real men walk away from heated street disputes. University of Western Sydney criminology Professor Stephen Tomsen said young men need to learn that they do not need to respond aggressively to insults and annoying behaviour from the public. “It must be possible for them to believe that just disengaging and walking away from a street dispute that is becoming very heated is a respectable and rational social practice,” he said.

I back the notion that you have to be able to identify douchebags and disengage from them as soon as you can. I DO NOT back the notion of ‘real men’ as that leads to a pressurised stereotype many guys struggle to adhere to. 

I’d also like to add that not only men are affected by street violence. I’ve often had violence postured towards me (always getting away unscathed), but it’s not gender biased.

5. Don’t get drunk. People that consume more than eight alcoholic drinks are more than 3.5 times likely to become a victim of crime, said Professor Miller. He said sober people have a much better ability to read the mood of others. 

“Don’t get drunk”. Don’t have fun. Don’t enjoy yourself. Live in fear. What is a bar anyway? Yes, OBVIOUSLY, Professor Miller people are going to have better judgement when they are sober. 

But being sober isn’t everyone’s state-of-being of choice, and this, THIS sounds a lot like victim shaming. 

“She was asking for it in that dress”, “you shouldn’t have gotten drunk then”, and “don’t take nude photos of yourself”. 

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 What distressed me about this article was it didn’t sound cautionary. It sounded forceful and overruling. Don’t get drunk. Avoid all young men. Don’t have fun. Live your life in fear.

I hope anyone person who read Ms Dow’s article did not start having anxious feelings in their stomachs, thinking they would become a victim of a horrible crime if they let loose.

And I hope you won’t become a victim of crime either.

So go out at night, catch taxi’s from taxi ranks, drink lots of vodka.

The issue here isn’t what you can do to avoid thugs.

The issue here is to get the message across to thugs that getting riled up and punching somebody is a real crime and a real problem that causes real deaths. 

Look at them! Such a good time to be had!