The Eurydice Dixon rape-murder is not about you.
There is a time for theory and levelheaded discussion. But there is also time for polemic and we have reached that moment.
Let me reiterate: the atrocious tragedy which occurred to Eurydice Dixon did not happen to you, and unless Ms. Dixon was a family member or a friend or an acquaintance it doesn’t really impact you.
Now, the title of this article is obviously not fair; most Australian women know that the murder of Eurydice Dixon wasn’t about them. Unfortunately there is a small cohort of Australian women which is absolutely convinced Ms. Dixon’s murder was some sort of by-proxy attack on them; this cohort is typically defined by stridently left-wing views, jobs in media industries (especially the Fairfax press) or entertainment or government bureaucracies or human resources departments or universities or the arts or victimhood-based QuANGOs, crippling addiction to social media, education in fields other than STEM or business or economics (and typically a belief that these fields are “boy’s clubs” that attempt to “keep out women” by highly nefarious yet rarely-specified means), a dewey-eyed worldview that thinks “compassion and empathy” are the solution to all the world’s problems (and typically a belief that anyone who takes a more reality-informed approach to problem solving is suffering from a case of “toxic masculinity”), and a high prevalence rate of Cluster B personality disorders.
It is this cohort of Australian women which is prone to thinking that Ms. Dixon’s murder is really about them. And since they are unlikely to read this article given it isn’t published on either a social justice Tumblr blog or a website of similar political leanings, then publishing this memo to this cohort here is basically a waste. But sometimes, things need to be said.
Let us make it clear: the atrocity which befell Ms. Dixon was perpetrated by one man upon one woman. In this monstrous act we see the depths of depravity which some human beings descend to. We see the senseless cruelty that human beings can inflict upon other human beings.
What we do not see is a reflection of standard-issue gender norms. Whatever problems exist with these norms (and there are indeed many), the perpetrator wasn’t a reflection of the norm. The vast majority of human beings are not inclined to rape or murder; those who do rape and murder (and in particular both acts) are not normal. They are not products of social norms but rather those whom haven’t been successfully socialized; traditional masculinity in civilized societies, for all of its flaws (which are numerous), emphasizes protecting women rather than raping and murdering them. I cannot even number how many times “never hit a woman” was drilled into my head as a kid.
What we see in commentary about Ms. Dixon is a resurgence of the old 70s-era Radical Feminist theories of rape and domestic violence, now being generalized to murder. According to the theories of Radical Feminism (as defined in works like Brownmiller’s Against Our Will and advocated by academics like Mary Koss), rape is not some aberrant behavior engaged in by sociopaths but rather an extreme example of traditional masculinity and an act of terrorism intended to keep all women in a perpetual state of fear of and submission to men. These theories of sexual terrorism were extended into the issue of domestic violence, where such violence became conceptualized as a campaign of terrorism by men asserting their status as “man of the house” over women; this view of domestic violence was institutionalized in the Duluth Model, which is the ultimate intellectual underpinning of the viewpoints advanced in the “Respectful Relationships” programs and other anti-DV initiatives that various Australian governments engage in (it should be noted that Ellen Pence, one of the founders of the Duluth Model, realized that the model was ultimately a product of confirmation bias and ideology rather than empirical research; she said “by determining that the need or desire for power was the motivating force behind battering, we created a conceptual framework that, in fact, did not fit the lived experience of many of the men and women we were working with… Eventually we realized that we were finding what we had already predetermined to find” (Pence, 1999, “Some Thoughts On Philosophy”)).
Additionally, if DV were really a product of society’s gender-based norms about men controlling women, one would expect female-female to have lower rates of domestic violence than male-female couples; in reality, such couples have higher DV rates than male-female couples, whereas male-male couples have the lowest DV rates. Nor would female-perpetrated domestic violence exist within opposite-sex couples; research shows that this is not the case, and there are many men whom are the victims of domestic violence from their female partners.
So in other words, the squealing chorus of shrewish mewling we hear about Ms. Dixon’s murder is based on an ideology that is at least three to four decades out of date and is flatly inconsistent with empirical reality.
But what I find more interesting here is the psychology behind this, rather than the pseudointellectual justification being peddled. Why is a particular cohort of Australian women treating Eurydice Dixon’s murder as proxy violence against them?
Of course, this is hardly unprecedented behavior. Hillary Clinton once said that women were the primary victims of war owing to their loss of their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers; is this merely her forgetting the distinction between “primary” and “secondary” or is it evidence of something deeper and much more regrettable?
And of course there is another great Australian example which I am hesitant to bring up; Ms. Rosie Batty, 2015 Australian Of The Year, is frequently framed as the primary victim of the murder of her son by her violent and likely mentally-ill ex-partner. It is inarguable that Ms. Batty was the victim of atrocious cruelty at the hands of Greg Anderson, and I certainly do not want to seem like I am blaming Ms. Batty for how her story seems to be framed and interpreted by others, but with all due respect Greg Anderson’s murder of Luke Batty was a murder in which Luke was the primary victim, even if Greg was “really motivated” by a desire to inflict misery on Rosie. I also fail to see how Greg Anderson’s depravity was a product of any kind of traditional masculine norms; how many species of animals exist where the males murder their own young? Not many, and I certainly don’t know of any traditional ideal of machoness that demands or encourages murdering your own children (only the Abrahamic Monotheisms celebrate a father’s willingness to murder his son); the monstrosities of Greg Anderson seem more likely to be products of mental illness rather than masculine norms.
I am not the only person to have noticed this pattern; in a speech to the International Conference on Men’s Issues held in 2017 on the Gold Coast, conservative journalist Miranda Devine (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCsBWtaxnbA from 4.00 onwards) talks about how the discussion on domestic violence in Australia became centered near-exclusively around the voices of and narratives favored by the cohort I described above; educated, middle-to-upper-class, leftist, capital-city (and in particular Melbourne) women (the American analogue for this group would be Hillary-voters-that-actually-liked-Hillary-rather-than-merely-considering-her-the-lesser-demon types). The actual victims of domestic violence are much more likely to be of much lower socioeconomic status, but if DV is primarily a byproduct of poverty then that greatly complicates the narrative, and it also takes away the precious spotlight from the kind of women who repeatedly insist that that the deaths of men in wars, the death of Luke Batty, and the death of Eurydice Dixon are really about them and their vagina.
To be fair, no one can blame this cohort of women for identifying strongly with Ms. Dixon; she was a Melbournian woman in the entertainment industry. I don’t know anything about Ms. Dixon’s social media habits, education, lifestyle or politics; she may or may not have been a selfie-addicted intersectional feminist hipster with degrees in Psychology and English Literature. But in some sick way, the wide-scale adoption of Ms. Dixon as a martyr, as their symbol of “every woman” (i.e. themselves), has been used to do exactly what Devine alluded to; it has become the rallying cry for a very specific set of women to say that they are the real victims of societal misogyny and that more money, funding and both cultural and governmental attention should be funneled towards them.
Article (https://libertyworks.org.au/its-the-law-that-needs-to-change-not-men/) after (http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/only-one-person-is-to-blame-for-eurydices-murder/21513#.WzwiIkiFM2w) article (https://libertyworks.org.au/eurydice-dixon-lets-direct-out-rage-at-the-right-targets/) has (https://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/the-beginning-of-the-end/) correctly critiqued the insanity of blaming “all men” or even social standards of masculinity or male cultural norms for what was ultimately a senseless, atrocious attack by one particular man upon one particular woman. But whilst it is correct to say this cohort of women are treating this one particular tragedy as an embodiment of greater social forces, their epistemic platonism really reduces to bizarre psychological histrionics; they want the Eurydice Dixon murder-rape to really be about them. The way that this particular subset of women is vicariously wallowing in imagined oppression through the personage of Ms. Dixon reminds me of the way some women over-identified with Princess Diana (and burned with vicarious rage against Prince Charles as the marriage disintegrated)… One wonders if this signals some sort of untapped market for a movie about a Disney Princess who gets raped and murdered.
Hard cases make bad law, and not only is this a hard case but it is a hard case which is inciting the passions of a particular part of the public (a part with disproportionate access to public sympathy, chivalrous politicians and media platforms). Convicting the monster who perpetrated this crime should be simple, but politicians will be tempted to craft special laws to convince the public they are Doing Something to make sure it Never Happens Again. Perhaps we will see Eurydice’s Law passed soon, and said law will be a ban on rape jokes (ironic given Ms. Dixon’s vocation), or perhaps some other ridiculous feminist policy that has no effect on rape or murder rates. Such law is about placating shrill screeching, not about actually doing anything.
However, I do not like the idea of laws being passed in response to what basically amounts to a minority demographic’s epidemic of Histrionic and/or Borderline Personality Disorder. The responses of many politicians to the murder and rape of Eurydice Dixon have been examples of what Brendan O’Neill calls the Politics Of Therapy. But politicians are not your therapists, and if you want the murder of Ms. Dixon to be all about you, then you should probably talk to a real shrink.