Rather than coming together in times of tragedy – we blame and we insult and we unleash our thinly-veiled discriminations. It was them, we say! Not us! Never our responsibility.
We default to our easiest – and laziest – stereotypes. And much more so when it’s about women.
We are skilled in the art of blame-throwing – particularly when it comes with racist and sexist undertones.
So what has happened in the aftermath of the tragic senseless shitty murder of Rebecca Dykes in Beirut? I’m still heartbroken for her, for her family. But it didn’t take long for the crap to come out.
We now know who the killer was – a Lebanese Uber driver who hid his previous convictions for drugs and assault. A dangerous evil person who should not have been free to drive, to work, to exist.
And yet here are some comments heard in the immediate aftermath, along with their possible unfortunate all-too-predictable outcomes.
Comment: Arabs are savages, dangerous, angry, misogynists!
Possible outcome: Smug validation of just about every single white, western, right-wing agenda – and lots of I told you so‘s from a certain administration. And probably lots of walls.
Comment: British Embassy security infrastructure was lax – they were irresponsible!
Possible outcome: Increased security restrictions for expats. Doors close – less people in, less people out. Less freedom less circulation less interaction less understanding less normal. More walls.
Comment: Lebanese never do this! It must be those “other Arabs” who have soiled our country!
Possible outcome: Increased tensions between Lebanese and Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians, and Lebanese and just about every other non-white non-Lebanese in Lebanon.
Comment: Lebanese blame “other” Lebanese – it was group x or y or whatever – but not us!
Possible outcome: Further tensions, stereotypes, discriminations, dislikes… in an already tense-stereotypy-discriminatory-dislikey society.
Comment: Lebanon is unsafe for foreigners!
Possible outcome: Reverting to images of the war, reminders of the expats who have been killed in Lebanon since the 70s…
Comment: Lebanon is unsafe for women!
Possible outcome: Women under higher security restrictions and more limits on women’s freedom – since that has always stopped perpetrators in the past, hasn’t it?!
Crimes like this are not unique to Lebanon – but the fact that this is a western woman has brought long-overdue attention to the question of women’s safety – and perpetrator impunity.
Comment: She was careless to be out alone after midnight and to be going home alone.
Possible outcome: Continued fear for our own safety, restricted freedom and mobility, and further limitations on the lives of women.
None of these possible outcomes suit me, frankly. We’re missing the point. It’s also worth thinking how the comments and consequences would be different if Rebecca had been Robert.
We can speculate for all eternity about what she could-have-should-have-may-have done for her own safety. But ultimately the only question worth asking is why HE did it. And what we’re going to do about it now that he has done it. And how we’re going to make sure this NEVER happens again.
The responsibility lies fully-exclusively-only with the perpetrator. It is entirely HIS fault. Being a rapist and murderer is a choice HE made. And I hope he pays for it as heavily as possible – for the rest of his life.
A friend with Rebecca Dykes on the night she was murdered wrote: I’m so sorry, Becky, for the violence men inflict on us.
And that’s the problem. Here’s the comment I’m NOT hearing:
Why do men still feel entitled to commit violence against women?
WHEN WILL THIS END?!