I’ve avoided chiming in on the Jill Meagher story thus far because I didn’t want to just react to the reaction. Now that the horrendous events of that night are official, I feel the need to voice the emotions that I and others are trying to process.
When something this horrific happens so close to home it forces us to reassess our community safety. If shoves the continual issue of gender inequality in our faces and demands consideration, discourse and action.
The emotional aspects of this crime are ones of shock, fear and heartbreak. I have family and friends who live in the area where Jill was abducted. My housemate is female and often rides home late. After such a brutal incident, my instincts want all the women I know to limit their night-life and never go out alone. Yet my sense of justice wants them to feel the same safety that I, as a male, feel in a public space. This is an internal conflict that becomes convoluted when mixed with the intensity of such an upsetting event.
As I leave adolescent life behind, I’ve started to wonder what makes me a man. Being a considerably safe city, the Melbourne streets have seldom triggered my primal impulse to protect others. Only when crimes of this significance take place do I become impelled to seek the physical power needed to unleash my inner ape in dangerous situations. Modern society can create a veneer of security that has made me at times forget the potential for human evil that sits at every corner.
At times like this, I find myself being overcome with a strange rage towards my gender. There is a paradox between wanting women to be equal civilians and being prepared to take a stand agains my fellow men on women’s behalf. Jill’s victimisation reminds us that the ideal society we strive for is still very much at threat from the reality of human flaw; the barbarousness our race retains as decedents of violent and difunctional beasts.
I feel that my personal desires to protect others has become best serviced when reminding myself that there is hope. Reminding myself that positive thought and action will light the future for my sisters, my mother, my housemate, my friends and relatives. Reminding myself that one man cannot combat the evil of another alone. The gender divide will only fall to collaboration.
We have the noble task of creating protection for our community but for now we grieve for Jill and her family. I feel regret that their pain is a reminder that there is still work to be done in making the streets safe for all.
Well done to all those who worked hard to capture the alleged attacker. Thank you to the Victorian Police for efficiency and professionalism.
With patience and clarity of mind, I hope all those in my local and online community can find a personal and interpersonal reconciliation of such a tragedy.