Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Prying Open My Third Eye

I spent much of 2017 looking at 'New Age' stuff. Yes, nebulous stuff. The reason was that I was in a relationship with a student of Anthroposophy, a practitioner of Yoga and Vipassana meditation. I myself had prior to all this done a fair bit of meditation myself and including once in a sensory deprivation tank and had some profound and weird experiences. I've had some profound experiences with my experiments in near total sobriety too, though not for a long time.

And the fact is human history is littered with the fact of testimony of out of world, supernatural and paranormal experiences. Experiences that are somewhat regularly recreated, but with the very particular caveat of being regularly recreated in the subjective experiences of individuals. Thus all we really have, is testimony.

It's hard to annex such a nebulous body of knowledge into any one category, because really it is moving away from reason and deap into intuitions. Thus I'm going to refer to it perhaps insultingly erroneously as peering through the Third Eye. But I like this metaphor because it lends itself to a description of a different way of seeing, furthermore looking through an impossible perspective - the minds eye.

I am much more in favor of this perspective than many might assume, and I want to discuss all the many ways it is safe to entertain and even profitable to do so rather than be railroaded by reason. This comes with a major caveat though, which is that it is my experience that the people most devoted to seeing through this third eye do so in order to close the other two. This can leave a person down two eyes in their vision. The third eye alone is not enough.

Our two regular eyes, may be enough. There is not in my experience any strong evidence to suggest that viewing the universe as completely material is insufficient to thriving, to being happy, to being productive and useful and ethical. But I suspectthat those who go too hardline material are at some disadvantage to those more flexible to an out-there notion like having a third eye.

I am a fan of the Chariot Allegory though I wouldn't use Plato's terms. The charioteer has the task of steering the two horses in a unified direction towards enlightenment. But you can see a trinity emerge in the model too - A charioteer, and 2 horses. One horse representing eros, the passions, emotions, intuition, the unconscious mind. The other horse representing reason, logic, intelligence whatever - most people have some fuzzy notion of left-brain right-brain dichotomy.

I have no real qualifications to comment on neural anatomy, but there's kind of a chariot in the material brain. We have the old brain that is fast, unconscious (the 'fast' in Daniel Kahneman's 'Thinking fast and slow') and the new brain (the neocortex) that is slow and costly, the conscious brain (the 'slow' thinking brain duh.) Communicating between the two is the hippocampus, which the ancients for some reason named after a sea horse because they think it looks like one, but it's basically the charioteer that integrates the two systems.

But in the practice of thinking, and please join me on some metacognition - with the reason vs emotion horserace, it is in my experience more a task of multi-tasking reason. Using reason to moderate not just my emotions, but also to moderate my reason, though when I think about it, both emotions and reason are pattern recognition systems and maybe emotions moderate reason as well.

Point being, I trust neither.

So to be frustratingly abstract like my idol, I'll just have to say that learning when not to trust your reason and/or emotions is a skill to be developed with practice and I cannot testify that healthy distrust of one's own mind can be mastered. So avoid unnecessary high stakes decisions...

Now a few years ago I was persuaded to stop reading the news. Newspapers all that shit. It's a problematic undertaking because my newsfeed on social media, even feed agregators that collect art-blogs I subscribe to are a source of news now. On the one hand it reinforces one of the arguments to dispense with newspapers - important news will find you. You don't need to exert energy looking for it. On the other though, the depressing reality that a large group of people use social media to publish content not about their own lives, but the news kind of just make it a news-story.

At any rate, if you must pick up a newspaper though, the best thing to read is probably the horoscope.


Because horoscopes are usefully vacuous. They basically in all their variations are vague enough to always be relevant and encourage a person to second guess a purchase they might be considering, or a person they are doing business with, whether to stick with a dead end relationship or to be optimistic about a future development in the domains of work, finances or romance.

To me that is more or less a benign daily exercise. But astrology needs some moderation. I have come across people who genuinely evaluate the viability of relationships on star signs alone. A fire sign clashing with a water sign is literally a deal breaker because a belief in what can be inferred about the content of someone's character from a star sign is set to strong inference rather than weak.

That is a good example of closing your basic conventional eyes to noticing the vast amount of variation in personality traits within star signs. There are only 12 signs in the Western Zodiac, the Chinese Zodiac clusters people by whole years, making variation more obvious though I'm sure there's still generalities to notice. The Myers-Briggs 16 personality types can function similar to astrology if you subscribe with the same conviction and close your eyes to how relative and contextual personality is...

the point being, that you need to keep one eye open and fixed on uncertainty. You need to have an eye that can rationally perceive when you are being irrational.

If my zodiac contains vagueries that are of no interest to me - for example it tells me to reconsider moving accomodation something not on my horizon and I'm anxious about what might be developing in my love life, I simply pick another star sign to read that is relevant to me. Because why not?

Keep it benign. But how about when one can engage irrational ways of seeing the world in good faith? Can we move from benign to useful?

Here is where I argue seeing the world through the third eye is much like shit I came across in maths in high-school.

I distinctly remember being excited to do a unit on imaginary numbers, and the premise being 'Imagine there's a number i for which i^2 is -1' so too can one employ mystic concepts just to do things. The God of Gaps is useful, provided you acknowledge that it is irrational to worship such a God, and don't say... try to derive moral authority from your belief.

Here I find talking to New-Age type people stimulating conversation in so far as they provide a space for me to talk in archetypes, metaphors, think in analogies, anthropormorphise natural phenomena and not get treated like I'm fucking crazy.

It's in these conversations heard perhaps with a mystical third ear, that out there ideas can be entertained. There's I feel, sufficient grounding for this being useful in Einstein's theory of Brownian Motion where a degree of randomness, mess, sloppiness can improve the efficiency of a system. Very similar to De Bono's work in lateral thinking.

Thus I like Tarot as an irrational analytical tool. Shuffling a bunch of archetypes and then retrofitting it to my reality to create narratives. Based on the fact that my straightforward, rational narrative is likely going to prove not a whole and complete description of reality and truth, I may as well produce a variety of narratives by shuffling a tarot deck and seeing what the fuck I draw.

This isn't of course an appeal to ignorance. I do not write gospel with Tarot cards, I just write alternative narratives that I then consider. As Lao Tzu advised in the I'Ching: "Therefore the truly great man dwells on what is real and not what is on the surface, On the fruit and not the flower, Therefore accept the one and reject the other."

One practical example I can demonstrate was using the archetypes of Tarot to analyse the patterns of my own love life. How I present myself, how I reveal myself, what I look for, what I overlook... tempting though it is to get into the detail, I discovered a telling personal inconsistency.

I myself embody a lot of behaviour consistent with Temperance, a word not used much but you might call it self-deprivation, or perhaps even delayed gratification. But this isn't a quality I go looking for in prospective partners. Thus with the Temperance card metaphorically in hand, I managed to recalibrate and I managed to change my own narrative of relationships. To know myself better and feel better, completely irrational but something that I'd found incredibly hard to just think my way out of despite years dedicated to a more rational, material, analytic approach to my own psychology.

And speaking of psychology, here is a discipline where one can appreciate the vast contribution made by the lost religion, lost mysticism of Greco-Roman paganism. Apollo, a sometime Sun God, God of Reason, Medicine, etc is the archetypical Charioteer. His (or Helios') son Phaeton is also an excellent cautionary tale of what can go wrong if you lose control of the Chariot by giving one aspect of your nature more credence than the other.

And I guess I do mean giving one more credence than the other. I have met people who aspire to conscious control of even their body language to reflect their inner truth better. I've met many more people who want to abandon the quick and dirty heuristics of their unconscious mind - their unconscious ability to distinguish men from women based on appearance and other cues, their predisposition to distrust strangers and trust family. There is an absolute sense where the expenditure of energy to undertake every interpersonal transaction objectively has some payoff, I just don't believe we can function in a complex world to any meaningful or significant extent without heuristics.

I like esoteric mysticism because it lends itself to inaccuracy. There is profit to be made from uncertainty and very little in certainty. So in part I feel if mysticism is taught it should be taught as advanced rationality, rather than an alternative to rationality. One of those situations where teacher says 'I know up until now I've told you all to never... but now I'm going to teach you the technique where we actually do...' Just as my maths teachers taught me that you can't square a number and produce a -ve value then to have them say 'in these situations under these circumstances we imagine there is a number i such that...' though to be honest it is still unclear to me as to what fucking use imaginary number sets have in practice.
Before wrapping up, I do have to address the Phaetons, the Woo-woo speakers, the psycho-babblers. Firstly in so far as these new age thinkers do not have nothing to teach a more grounded mind. They do not only instruct as cautionary tales, but their folly can point to our own. Because everyone is prone to believing what they want to believe, hearing what they want to hear and not looking into an ugly mirror of reality. To sit with our shame and our pain are incredibly rare traits, and the new-age people are not especially deserving of derision for avoiding shame and pain in a more obvious way than most do by buying into say... empirically proven bogus economic theories.

What concerns me more for the new age is that knowledge to them is more like feeding a fire with an endless stream of kindling than building a stone fireplace that can reliably and with minimal effort keep one comfortable and warm. These are people that can pile framework after contradictory framework on top of one another and simply choose always what they want to do. This is opening your third eye and closing the other two.

Having had a relationship with a student of theosophy, and Chinese medicine and yoga and so fourth, what alarmed me was not so much the illogic or irrationality of her belief systems, but how easy it was for me to give any argument I made weight by appending some mystical precedent to it.

One can easily say I need to personify the Fool Archetype or I need more Wood element to counteract my excess of Water element in a way where there's no question of compatibility or incompatibility. Whereby seeing the world the regular material way you can't invoke say both a psychological argument about positive illusions and an economic argument about rational expectations. There's an onus of reconciliation on the sciences that just do not exist for the mystic arts.

In some absolute terms New-Agers are no less reasonable than a secular Australian borrowing from her future self to pay off a mortgaged property in early 2018, except that the New-Age people tend to live at the fringes of society commanding little wealth except for the rare instances where one with conviction or cynicism can build a business model whereby they can transfer what little wealth a group of New-Age believers have to one individual - via a Youtube Channel or running Seminars or selling Crystals online or something. The irrational material secularist can have no greater command of truth and yet live more comfortably.

Perhaps the esoteric author of greatest influence to me put it most succinctly:

"Respect the Gods and Buddha but do not count on them."

It's tricky stuff, but it is there to be had.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

On Joining the Conversation

This is a difficult post to write, because I for one struggle when there's a personal tragedy combined or perhaps even engulfed with a general issue. This post is about the general not the personal but the catalyst was the death of Eurydice Dixon, an event that transpired almost 3 weeks ago.

I am in a position where the personal tragedy is salient, because one of my friends is personally effected by the loss and I know he, a family, and a community are all going through very personal grief. While I'm sure those who have lost a daughter, intimate partner, colleague and friend don't want her death to be in vain, I'd bet good money they also never wanted her to be a martyr and never wanted her to mean this to so many members of the public. For anyone who may be personally grieving their loss, I trust you to tune in or tune out of the public reaction as best you see fit, and urge you to prioritize the grief for your personal loss.

Roughly three weeks ago as of writing/publishing this; in the early hours of the morning, Eurydice Dixon a 22 year old citizen of Melbourne, Australia was walking across Princes Park in Carlton when a 19 year old male approached, raped and the murdered her.

This was but the latest catalyst to reignite passions for the issue of women's safety from male perpetuated violence. And this post is about the responses I've been exposed to in the public domain, not the person of Eurydice, and I cannot say with any confidence whether my experiences will be relatable.

I need to acknowledge that the vast majority of people, have reacted with silence, for good or bad and given that silence gives me little to draw conclusions on, I have little interest in the most common reaction and respect people's right not to engage, it may even be prudent as acting and reacting carry risk. Three weeks on though, and almost everyone has gone silent, returned to the status quo with the exception of those personally affected, those who had no option to take her death personally.

I want to write mostly about the reactions that are vocal and in the public arena, namely the calls to join 'the' conversation mostly directed at a category I belong to: men. I want to be the first to point out that this, this post, is not a conversation. I've heard these calls and I probably won't answer them. Thus far I don't want to. Specifically I don't want to join any of the conversations on offer.

My motivations, or lack thereof are not because I want to stick my head in the sand, or deny there is a problem, or shift blame or responsibility. But for lack of any conversation partners where I feel my core contribution wouldn't be 'you should probably sit this conversation out.'

From my vantage point, there are things I notice immediately:

1. A failure of second-order thinking: Taking to the public square and demanding other people do something different instead of doing what they've always done; Is in itself not different, and what people have always done.
2. These aren't invitations to join 'a' conversation, or even 'the' conversation, but 'our' conversation. I always feel like I'm being invited to pledge allegiance and tow the party line. Not invited because I may have a unique perspective to contribute, or because my prospective conversation partners feel they lack the answers or an understanding of my perspective.
3. It is incredibly rare for people to say what they are actually feeling, and that it's on me if I get angry or just irritated. I have to be charitable that most of the most aggressive reactionary behavior is actually just people struggling to express that they feel powerless and scared and are not comfortable sitting with these feelings.

Beyond that, and feel free to judge me in turn, when I receive an invitation to join a conversation I am going to evaluate the qualities of the conversation partners on offer: When I scroll through my facebook feed I am not being hit with an overwhelming impression that those being vocal about the issues of male violence and women's safety are endowed with the characteristics of being thoughtful, dispassionate, critical, skeptical, imaginative, creative, honest, self-aware, humble, modest, intelligent, informed, rigorous, reserved, patient or disciplined.

To be fair, there are definitely voices that are in my opinion far more constructive than others. Voices that from the outset have demonstrated perspective in the simple form of recognizing that most violence against women occurs right at home. There were also voices that gained perspective quickly, realizing that to be suddenly outraged by one of the most a-typical cases of violence perpetrated by men against women, was to implicitly accept that violence against women within the confines of a home, a relationship, a marriage was a norm and not an outrageous one.

Those voices though aren't calling upon me to join 'the' conversation, or criticizing me implicitly for not accepting and executing the proposed reactionary solutions.

And I guess, for your clarity and mine, I should say my ambition in writing this and inviting people to read on, is to get people to consider the benefits of not being reactionary. I would settle even for making the word 'reactionary' salient.

Let's be clear, 'the' conversation about women's safety and men's responsibility to create a safe world in which women can live and work freely has been an ongoing public discussion at least since a man went on a spate of vicious, brutal murders of prostitutes in the Whitechapel district of the East End. A conversation that continued in ebbs and flows right through the rape and murder of Jill Meagher, 6 years prior to Eurydice's murder and significantly, I feel, though not sure how, only a few kilometers away on Sydney Road, Brunswick.

Prior to the events of a fortnight ago, for example, Youtube regularly exposed me to this ad campaign, and while it's short I would ask you to watch it, because there's a wealth of ideas to consider there, and I'm going to refer to it again (and again no doubt). The 'Call It Out' campaign, which Premier Daniel Andrews tweeted out in March of this year, (though I'm not sure of the exact launch date) was launched without the catalyst of Eurydice's murder.

That's the message, the values coming down from the public leadership of Victoria, our elected representatives. And I also note that world-wide there has been very recent public discussion of 'Incels' in popular culture, social media and the mainstream press. Again part of the ongoing conversation, and the collective consciousness within which, men are still subjecting women to violence.

I have to remind myself that people calling on me to join their reactionary conversations; are doing so impersonally. They, like me, forget who their audience on social media consists of, and that most of the people who hear that message are invisible, the 65 people that like the status are but the tip of the iceberg. They are likely to have forgotten that I am one of their facebook friends, (I certainly can not name all my facebook friends off the top of my head.)

So when I find myself rankling that people within hours of hearing of Eurydice's death have the hubris to tell me that I need to listen to them to be part of the solution, they probably aren't thinking of me at all; let alone doing so in consideration of how much time and effort I've invested in really thinking about these issues here and here. Introspection that took place in my space, rather than the public square. But I'm not going to simply dismiss that rankling, because there is useful information in it. I just need to be charitable that the phenomena of public outcry is largely driven by well documented psychological phenomena like the usual-suspect Confirmation-Bias (believing what we want to believe) the Dunning-Kruger effect, the Availability hueristic, the Just-World Hypothesis and especially the phenomena of pluralistic ignorance perhaps the most important idea that skews my perspective. We are collectively and constantly betrayed by our intuitions, especially as problems grow in complexity.

I don't wish to single anyone out, especially an activist friend who walks the walk but I even rankled when they broadcast the question: "C'mon blokes! Where is your outrage? Where is your solidarity? Why are you so OK with the fact that the streets of our city are so unsafe for us? Why are you not considering how much danger poverty puts us in? Why are you not angry at the police for once again making us sit through their boring victim blaming bullshit? WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?" which was prefaced by an observation "I have to say, the silence from my men folk friends is once again deafening."

The complaint is not specific enough to know whether I was included as silent or not, I presume once again people broadcasting are not thinking of me specifically as their audience. But I am going to speculate as to the reason of this phenomena of deafening silence. If your behavior is in itself a 'fight' response to stimulus (making yourself large, loud and hostile), the range of reactions to your behavior you can reasonably expect are: fight, flight, freeze and appease. Silence could be considered flight or freeze responses. Basically retreating or standing still until the threat you pose has subsided. Fight would be the trolling though I've observed little of that I know it is out there, and appease is the 'solidarity' which sounds impressive but it is my experience that it is only appeasing, hoping to say the right things such that no meaningful action can follow.

We all communicate more than we think we do, and the messages we unconsciously transmit are also often unconsciously decoded. I struggle to consciously recognize the difference between anxiety responses and anger responses, but if I don't think about it, just feel it, most of the noise following on from Eurydice's death was anxiety driven, fear disguised as outrage, righteousness.

I don't know of course, I'm not a mind-reader. I can only say that I'd be far more impressed if people took to social media and said 'I feel scared and powerless, what happened to Eurydice was an unwelcome reminder that my very survival is contingent on others upholding a social contract' which I can relate to, rather than 'I'm outraged!' running concurrently to all this is Victoria's latest WorkSafe campaign attempting to establish a social norm that because you're upset it is not (never) ok, to act however you want. I at least, draw a line between this and the phenomena of reactions.

Flawed though it is, things have improved in much of the world, for women since 1888. Female and Trans prostitutes are still disproportionately victims of violence, women are still disproportionately victims of violence and men still greatly disproportionately the perpetrators of it. And the cumulative victims of women murdered by men who are strangers to them, is dwarfed by the number who are killed by men who are their intimate partners. And of course, there are places in the world, which is to say: contexts, where the world is more dangerous for women than it was in 1888.

The call to own the problem, is to move towards or make reality a world in which a woman can be as safe as men are.

I'm happy to take ownership of just about any problem, but only so far. In this case, I am not going to for example, change profession from deadbeat artist to Law or Law Enforcement. I am simply going to respond.

From here on out, this will be a response. Keep in mind it is a response by me, and that's all I am. So this is what owning the problem looks like to me, and it makes *me* really uncomfortable and I honestly feel most people, not only men don't have the stomach to respond in a constructive thoughtful way.

I'm going to divide this into means, motive, and opportunity, as reassuringly formulaic BBC program 'Death in Paradise' has drilled into me. Addressing any of the three successfully should eradicate the problem. But I'm going to preference these based on the content of online reactions which overwhelmingly want the problem addressed via eradicating motive - the motivation, the emotional drivers behind men's violence toward women. My impression is the voices in the public square is calling for 80% motive solutions, a begrudging 20% opportunity solution and in the context of Australia 0% means based solutions.


As it stands, most reactions are committed to a fait accompli - we know what to do and just need to do it. I suspect that most of the voices I heard are drawing on a mostly vague subscription to a mostly vague concept known as 'Rape Culture' that to be clear, I'm not skeptical of the concept that culture shapes behavior as behavior shapes the culture, so much as feel it is ill-defined and a hypothesis at best. Rather than a robust theory like Evolution by Natural Selection is. I'm willing to entertain the rape culture hypothesis.

For the record, I will disclose up front I think very little of male 'allies'/male feminists/totally-woke-baes and I am as yet, to have an experience that leads me to furnish them with the respect they are courting in the public sphere.

I bear in mind that it is probably one of the common side-effects of pluralistic ignorance, which is where the people who are most fearful of their private disagreement with the in-group norms being uncovered, try to disguise themselves by being the most vocal and visible enforcers of the norms. For all the memes and public criticisms of 'Not all men..' arguments as hand washing, I read male-feminist posts and I see a man trying to wash his hands and distance himself from 'those guys'. Functionally no different from saying 'not all men...' it's just slightly more subtle.

On three occasions after Eurydice's death I've had to fight down the temptation to comment on a guy's status mansplaining to me that *we* have to own the issue 'okay, step 2?' One of my male friends posted a lengthy piece of prose 'Collect your mates' listing a long list of criteria some of which I fit, and I have to fight the temptation to say to him 'I'm awaiting collection.' whatever the fuck that means.

But of course, the ally's actually skip straight to step 2 to avoid step 1. So what we hear is socially acceptable and 'definitively' 'proven' causes that lead men to think it is okay to rape and murder women. A kind of bounded irrationality that where we've failed in anti-bullying campaigns, anti-terrorism and anti-drug campaigns to understand the underlying causes and propose any effective solutions, violence against women by men is just a matter of lack of will, lack of compliance.

This I feel, is why if improvements and progress have been made, public interest in women's safety and men's violence towards women has probably served to stand in the way of that progress more than contribute. Policy and law-makers, strategists, academics, researchers, expert consultants, social workers etc. people actually invested in solving these problems have to withstand the demand for mob appeasement based on commonly held intuitions.

So rather than fall into an unproductive fait accompli trap, and given that conversation about Eurydice has basically already disappeared and although no women have been raped and murdered in the fortnight following Eurydice I suspect... that has nothing to do with the solutions verbalised on social media being implemented. (I for one was not even collected, and I thought we were mates), how about we actually start with step 1... which is, owning the problem. And I do mean we.

Step 1 to me is the much touted and almost never practiced exercise in empathy. If you haven't come across it, I do highly recommend entertaining the case against empathy. Which comes to mind only because I'm probably unfair. A lot of people calling upon me to own the issue, to join the conversation are clearly empathizing, or attempting to empathize with the victim. And Paul Bloom points out that empathy for victims historically has been used to mobilize people against Jews and African Americans and currently Mexicans. Step 1 actually requires us to empathize with the assailent, the rapist, the murderer because he had control.

So if you're a man, (and this is just my opinion, but what would actually impress me) owning this aspect begins (step 1) with questioning one's-self and starting with but the first uncomfortable question: 'Am I a rapist? Am I a murderer?'

If you are a woman, identify as female or at least not a man, then your perhaps even more uncomfortable question is 'if I were a man, would I be a rapist? would I be a murderer?'

Maybe starting with the strict legal definitions as to what constitutes rape and murder, to which if either answer is yes, you should, like Eurydice's killer, turn yourself in to your nearest police station. (Hopefully) more likely you can have a soul searching and excruciating personal inventory entertaining the broader definitions of rape and murder, keeping in mind that some Vegans see no distinction between eating cheese and dairy and raping a human being, and plenty of people regard the consumption of meat as murder, and there are people with the earnest conviction that abortion is murder.

Yes, you may by owning this problem, become a Vegan.

After taking that inventory, the next uncomfortable question to ask yourself is: 'Under what conditions would I rape/murder someone?' If you want me to converse with you, you have to have an answer to these questions. Otherwise we are having a useless discussion about mythical monsters.

I'll even let you cheat off my notes: The murder, or kill a person, question is the easier to answer for me. The conditions necessary for me to kill anyone, would be that I'd have to have assumed responsibility for the well-being of an individual or group. They would have to be antagonized and sufficiently threatened by someone I was not responsible for. The expediency of simply killing that antagonist would have to outweigh the costs of rehabilitating them. (were I responsible for them, I feel I would have an obligation to take on the cost of rehabilitating them). More or less, the exact conditions under which I would fire someone/have someone fired just given the much higher stakes of ending people's lives rather than causing them temporary discomfort. So it would require much higher conviction that there was no suitable recourse, it is easy to make an actuarial decision on firing versus coaching a dysfunctional employee. This rationale is alluded to in the martial tradition of the Yagyu family of swordsmanship, which they compared to when a surgeon harms a patient to remove the ailment that will kill them and thereby save their life. People have to recover from surgery. You kill one to save a thousand. I would note that you can 'kill' a person by changing their behavior, effectively making them somebody else, but that's weaseling out of the exercise.

For me to have agency over the act of murdering a human being, which I know and accept to be wrong, it would be in light of preventing mass-genocide, or even under extreme duress, saving an individuals life. Preferably it would have to be humane and instant with no platform for vindictiveness or cruelty. In other words: the kind of murder that medals are awarded for. But medal or death penalty, there are conceivable but unlikely scenarios under which I would kill a person.

The conditions under which I would rape someone/have someone raped, are not gender specific for me and are by order of magnitude more extreme than the conditions required to murder a person. Because basically, it would need to be a situation where I didn't have recourse to a quick humane death of an antagonist, but for some reason needed that person to remain alive. That's the first part, the second would be establishing that something could be achieved through their psychological destruction. This is very hard to imagine, but perhaps the leader of a tenuous regime, where to remove them would cause an extremely dangerous leadership vacuum but to have them carry on feeling invincible or inerrant was untenable. Louis C K, (himself now a known sex-offender) had a bit about travelling back in time and raping Hitler. Even so, I find it hardly credible to imagine any scenario where psychological destruction of an antagonist became necessary (as in no better courses of action). I find it much harder to think of scenarios where torture of any kind is justified, especially given its inability to deliver any reliable outcomes. Highly implausible but not impossible.

And of course, I then have to follow this up with the exercise in empathy: 'under what conditions would I have to have to rape AND murder someone?' it's easier and harder. The easy answer is that the murder would be an attempt to avoid responsibility for the rape. It's harder because why the fuck am I raping someone if I am going to experience panic, remorse and regret. I can't occupy this empathetic space easily because the conditions previously described mean I would have spent years or at the very least months coming to the decision to commit a premeditated rape only to then panic - a headspace I find hard to imagine, perhaps due to the nature of panic.

But from my answers I can extract something I feel is useful. I would have to be A) in crisis to have agency over what I knew to be wrong. I would also have to B) feel antagonized and threatened by the person (or category) who would become the victims of my acts. I would have to genuinely hold the conviction that it was a solution to a problem. I would never cast them as altruistic acts, they are certainly malicious. And of course: selfish even when justified in utilitarianism terms by defending the interests of my in-group, like some rape-variation of the Trolley Problem.

What if you haven't noticed, I will point out to you though, is that to me owning the issue means positioning myself closer to Eurydice's murderer, not distancing myself - which is what I see male 'allies' falling over themselves to do while 'woke' enough to not cry out 'not all men'.

And I can't do this exercise for women of course, because I am not one. But I don't feel at ease letting the women-I-hope-read-this off lightly while I hold male 'allies' to account. If you are the kind of woman who says vindictive things like 'I want to punch every man in the face' or 'when are we going to stop talking about justice and start talking about revenge' from where I stand, it sounds like you feel it is fine to see a whole category of people as antagonists and yourself justified in committing violence against members of that category. Please sit with the uncomfortable possibility that you entertain the exact same kinds of thoughts that killed Eurydice, but you simply lack the means to follow through. There's an argument to be made about the fairness of taking turns as to who perpetrates violence against whom, given that it's almost always men carrying out acts of violence on women, but I would point out you probably have more in common with Eurydice's Killer than you'd like to ever acknowledge to yourself.

Step 2 now becomes using our imaginations to explore why someone would come to see all women as antagonists, and how he saw raping someone as a way to resolve his personal crisis. Without constraining our imaginations, let's start skeptically looking at rape culture.

The fact that he was lurking in a public park in the dark after midnight, alone, suggests to me that he very well understood that rape was wrong and that there are negative consequences to being caught. As of writing, I am assuming he will plead guilty, however my limited understanding of law means there may be a trial as to what degree murder/manslaughter he is convicted of. Based on what little facts have been transmitted to me, and based on what I can recall from my brief education in legal studies from way back in highschool - I would speculate that the murder charges would struggle given the facts; to establish pre-meditation. I don't know what degree of murder that makes it in Victorian Law, but the rape was certainly pre-meditated.

The hardest empathic gap for me to close with the killer, is not the violence but the selfishness. I can't imagine that rape is about sex, so much as control, and thus perpetrated by people who don't feel in control. I believe, but this is hearsay, based on one interview with one law-enforcement officer in one episode of an ABC series on domestic violence; that this is a consensus view of the profile of offenders: people who don't feel in control. I've had some emotional experiences where I felt a compulsion to try and seize control, and out of control and they were truly awful, typically resulting in writing a pathetic and ill conceived email or letter. In those cases I can vouch that not knowing my own emotional state was of much greater impact than knowing right from wrong, I didn't even subscribe to the normal standards of how friends communicate, my standards were much higher - yet those standards abandoned me. More generally it seems this behavior manifests in me with snide remarks at innocent bystanders.

So all I have is a crude multiplication to take those darkest days of my life and say if that sense of out-of-control behavior were multiplied by 1000, I might find myself lurking in a dark corner somewhere waiting for *anyone* I can dominate for a fleeting sense of control, instead of just being unnecessarily mean because I don't realize what I'm bothered by or even am aware I am bothered.

Where I arrive at through empathy from these questions, is a crude foundation to start imagining solutions from to the motive part of the equation. I perhaps am likely to transplant what I have taken away from my exercise in empathizing with addicts. Things like, but not limited to: how little impact negative consequences have on curbing compulsive behavior, to look at not the destructive behavior but the pain underlying that destructive behavior and where I feel most reactionaries are most tone-deaf: asserting that people have control where they don't feel it.

Which brings me to a third set of questions that may be useful in owning the problem: 'Who would you prefer to be: Eurydice or her killer?' Eurydice's parents? Or his parents? I am assuming the answer is that you like me, would prefer to be Eurydice, than someone who would do that to Eurydice. Hence all the distancing, and not asking the actual hard questions of ourselves. And a distinctly counterproductive lack of compassion in addressing the issue, based on deeply held intuitions about transgression and punishment.

I can imagine that in the interviews of not just this killer, but all killers, even situations where there is a relationship between the killer and his victim, to some extent when asked 'why her?' (as in how was the victim selected) it would reduce down to 'because she was there.' Whether that is the woman who happened to be walking through the park after midnight, or the woman who smiled at him at that party 15 years ago. The stark and ugly, and therefore challenging thought to entertain is that for crimes that cannot be more personal to their victims, they are probably quite impersonal to the perpetrators.

Now here I can start to bring back in and entertain some of the fait accompli conversation points I've put under the umbrella of rape culture. When I look at a case like Brock Turner's I'm more inclined to see the role of rape culture playing an active hand. Turner's actions speak of underlying values, underlying aggression that was present (has to be present, even with alcohol in the blood stream: after all many people get drunk and don't rape a stranger at a party.)

There are factors that suggest Turner's values were shaped by his environment, including the fact that it was two Swedish students (cultural transplants) that felt compelled to intervene and detain him. Furthermore there was his father's letter that indicated that Turner's values were in some part hereditary. This though, like much of the discussion of rape culture is all speculative, and why my lived experience tends to intuitively reject it as a fruitful line of action. However that depends on the definition.

To me 'rape culture' comes to be an extreme subset of a culture that eschews personal responsibility. A subset of a selfishness-culture. That it is acceptable to accommodate your own problems at the expense of others, because you aren't thinking about them or their pain, just your own. One caveat is that in the cases where the violence is personal, all my experience tells me it is likely that the person is trying to communicate the extremity and severity of their own pain to someone they desperately want to understand them. And yes, I feel everyone, myself included is culpable for bad communication.

There is plenty of opportunity for everyone to make small incremental improvements on perpetuating this culture of irresponsibility. I don't believe many of those opportunities however, involve transforming pride into shame.

But the fait accompli and socially acceptable list appear to revolve around a shaming pogrom: Men who don't respect women. Men who tell rape jokes. Men who use pejorative slurs like 'slut' or 'bitches' or 'prostitute'. Incels. MRAs.

Okay. I've looked at the extensive but non-exhaustive list of likely culprits for furnishing the motive to rape a random woman in the dark. And what? Reeducate them?

Let's look at the Victorian government ad again. this ad campaign if you didn't watch it the first time I linked it. In it an ordinary looking guy speaks disrespectfully, and in a belittling way to his girlfriend on the phone while three uncomfortable guys listen to it. Then afterwards they 'call him out' to which he defends it as 'just joking' and they reassure him it's not funny, not a joke, not cool etc.

I have some questions.

Which of those four men, is going to murder and rape a woman? My answer would be, I don't know. It would be nice if it were as easy to spot as the guy who has the least socially acceptable behavior and most outwardly disrespectful attitude to women. But I'm not that confident. My life is populated by too many anecdotes of guys who say all the right things or present a harmless public facade or even outwardly subscribe to feminism who by deed don't respect women at all, bully and pick on them, psychologically attack them and even physically or sexually assault women. If you already find this post long, I wrote a very long, considered and unpopular post on the very question of where rapists are and what they look like.

The next question is: why is this the level of intervention being asked? Why are we calling it out to the 'mate' if it is the woman who is in danger? Why has this guy not already crossed a line in terms of relationships that can be endorsed? Why are these men if they truly don't endorse his values, hanging out with this man? Are we being asked to associate with people we find morally reprehensible in order to reshape their values? Is this what owning the problem means?

It's why when I read a guy posting a long list of 'mates' to collect, I suspect lip-service is being done. We tend to associate with people who share our values, these are the people we call friends. I will concede there is an argument to be made for people having acute, discreet maladaptive beliefs owing to specific family history incidents or mental health issues. Are these so easy to spot though? It would be nice if it was. But again, whose to say the man-bun in the ad isn't smart enough to know what one is supposed to say in that situation, even though he knows himself to be a hypocrite?

Much of the descriptions of what consitute 'rape culture' rape-jokes, female specific pejoratives, violent crime as entertainment, victim-blaming, stigmitization of victims etc. I'm willing to entertain, I also note though, what is missing from the list of rape culture talking points.

There are people who hold as sacrosanct texts, and subsequently deities that treat women as chattel, property. That underpin whole cultures where men believe it a social responsibility to gang rape a woman who is un-escorted by her father or husband. Scripture that has produced cultures like Italy where the response to rape was the woman was married to her rapist to make things right in the eyes of God. Scripture that has produced honor killings to remove the shame of having a daughter that was so 'shameless' as to be raped. Scripture that failed to anticipate the advent of effective, safe and affordable contraception, and struggles to admit that whole swathes of it's moral instruction centered around hygiene is now obsolete or badly in need of review.

I notice this absence, and it tells me that the people calling out the 'notallmen' catch-cry as hand-washing and distancing and sticking-head-in-the-sand are all talk.

Of both the socially acceptable presented 'solutions' and the socially unacceptable ones above because they involve criticizing religion which has become conflated with racism - It is incredibly rare for conversation with mates to turn to the subject of valuing women, but the religious go to Church sometimes weekly, sometimes pray multiple times a day and instruct their children in scripture from infancy.

I'm not suggesting though attacking religion as a solution. I personally don't face the challenge of reconciling into a consistent position beliefs about rape-culture and beliefs about religion. I've entertained this list of demands, and find at worst what can be said is that none of this behavior helps.

Also fortunately, due to the nature of bio-psycho-social models. I've never sat at that table with a dude with a beard and a man-bun and some douche that somehow wound up my friend or work-colleague disrespecting his girlfriend on the phone. What I'm being called to do, are things I can't action today, or tomorrow, I may have to wait months or years for an opportunity to 'call it out' and the bio-psycho-social model of medicine makes it highly unlikely that I with my values will attract and retain friends who do not share my values. I am however much more likely to meet people who believe a book, independent of their knowledge of the content, is the best source of inspiration and instruction one can find and within it contains much inspired justification of rape and denigration of women.

Again, I've written previously about this issue of consistency and I don't plan on rehashing it.

I see these suggested solutions to address the culture as not the-reasonable-request-to-do-something-simple-but-I'm-not-because-I'm-a-coward-and-hate-women but as a huge imposition to go deep undercover into social circles where values prevail that I don't share and somehow not just retain their friendship without participating but maneuver myself into a position where I will be looked to for moral guidance.

There is also a compelling absence of evidence based on the behavior of criminals to conceal and avoid being held to account for their crimes against women, that anyone is proud of the crimes they commit. Maybe in times of war where historically rape has been a weapon of conquest did groups of men sit down around a camp-fire and openly brag about raping women, and I'd be surprised if this practice had been abandoned world-wide. There may be a group of men somewhere that boast about raping their wives, but the culture I appear to live in is one where that shit happens behind closed doors because friends would intercede or call the police or child-protective services, or perhaps even more simply: because the perpetrators know they ought to be ashamed not bragging.

I could picture absent some Swedes, a place where a Brock Turner of this world, might get some high-fives from his preppy douchey buddies when he told them how he scored behind a dumpster with some drunken slut. So I'm willing to entertain this 'rape culture' hypothesis in that I will distribute condemnation to any guy that shows the poor judgement to boast to me of his crimes rather than distribute high-fives. However, this is not a product of any discussion that has taken place in the last 10 years.

On that front, I suspect that maybe the telling factor for me was non of the fait accompli-rape culture discussion that has gotten so much play on my social media feeds, but instead because I was raised in a family environment of personal responsibility. Because I also don't give high fives to work colleagues who show the poor judgement to boast to me that they routinely steal their soy-milk from the work fridge. (I don't snitch, because it is not part of my value to care about the balance sheet of a publicly traded corporation ahead of an actual living feeling person, anti-social as they may be.)

As such, I've probably rendered myself a bit sensitive about people telling me I need to talk about these issues, and acting like the answers to evidently intractable problem are likely to be simple.

There's good intent behind campaigns like 'Call It Out' and 'Stop It Where It Starts' but then there's Eric Schneiderman. There's also 'This is your brain on drugs' and 'Just say no' and the whole war on drugs, and the war on terror and 'if you see something say something' and it erodes my confidence that this time in this case a mob of people who had the solutions ready to go within minutes of hearing of Eurydice's murder (because they are the same solutions that didn't work last time.) have it right.

Personally, I have to admit bias, that I am on general principle not a fan of any system that requires people to do the right thing, all the time, to work. I call that poor design. And strictly speaking, if you honestly believe you can get people to agree to universal values and demonstrate 100% compliance, you are arguing for disbanding the police and CCTV security measures as well. As with women's safety from men, so too financial market deregulation, to traffic safety, to a share house fridge. So I would look more to 'opportunity' and 'means' based solutions sooner than motivations.

I also don't believe the mind to be an infinitely malleable distinct entity independent of the biology of the brain and nervous systems. I don't much believe in solutions that involve people thinking their way into becoming new people. It's not impossible but it's very difficult. And again I have to remind myself, nobody is to know I'm the kind of person that watches Stanford University's entire 'Behavioral Biology' lecture series by Prof. Robert Sapolsky for fun; when they ask me to join their conversation. (It's really good, and free).

But I have in the domain of addiction walked this walk: To first remove the log from my eye before commenting on the speck in yours. As said Jesus in some form or another. Which is to say, 5 years ago I got slapped in the face with the revelation that I wasn't willing to do what I was asking addicts to do. So I quit forever, cold turkey a bunch of stuff. Alcohol, caffeine, confectionery, cakes, soft drinks, McDonalds, KFC and pornography. Though I've been sober or in recovery for most of the last 4 years, I've backslid or relapsed on all bar caffeine and KFC, though never again formed a habit.

And here's the relevance. I'm being called upon to call out a bunch of behavior that is believed to contribute to 'toxic masculinity' and 'rape culture' - In fairness please respect me by calling on yourself to address behavior that cultivates a culture of selfishness:

Have you quit drinking? Have you quit painkillers? Have you quit coffee? Have you considered quitting either/or paralal parking or checking your phone while in a car? As mindlessly opening your door into the path of oncoming cyclists is the number one killer of innocent cyclists simply acting within their rights and the Victorian Police have run a victim blaming campaign  have you considered giving up driving in fact? Have you resolved to no longer flake/pyke/or give a miss your friends' gigs, parties and other celebrations because you're tired or socially anxious? Have you resolved to never again make a three point turn in your car, instead choosing to go around the block? Have you stopped calling on members of a category you don't indentify with to take responsibility? Have you sworn off everything Japanese? The rapiest rape culture that is simultaneously dominant in pop-culture. Where comics targeted at children and teenagers often use rape as lazy plotting and motivation, and pornographic comics are read shamelessly on public trains again often featuring rape based plots.
Have you resolved to not criticize police or question the local system of law? This sends a message that individuals are free to decide which laws are legitimate and which are not. Have you taken inventory of all the ways in which you avoid responsibility by blaming, excusing, diverting or denying problems when brought to you and resolved to never use these defenses again? Are you an activist? Are you trying to be the change you want to see in the world rather than simply calling on the government or some other entity to fix it? Do you refuse to own property or pay rent? By doing so you are subscribing to a colonialist legacy that is unethical and immoral - people literally owning land and exploiting it for personal gratification, where the land cannot consent. Here's a great one: Have you resolved to ask your friends to justify why they are dating their partners? Are you willing to risk their indignant rejection to express how you truly feel about the guy they bring to your dinner parties? Have you discussed your own attachment style with a qualified psychologist and vowed not to get into dysfunctional relationships?

I want to pull out two examples of things both men and women could address that are as potentially culpable as say something more seemingly obvious like rape-jokes as contributing to rape culture.

The first is drinking wine. It seems entirely reasonable that everyone could quit drinking wine and all they would lose is the intoxicating effect of drinking wine. However the benefits to society at large if we were to eradicate drinking from the culture would be demonstrable. It's hard to deny the roll drinking plays in domestic violence and traffic incidents, probably even household accidents, house fires and accidental death. We would be all massively safer if everyone stopped drinking. And if you feel tempted to say 'but my wine drinking doesn't have any impact on some idiot getting blind drunk and hopping behind the wheel. I drink responsibly.' then you've just said 'not all wine drinkers' and can empathise with the category of people being criticized. My own experience of going completely sober is in fact, that I would never actually ask anyone to do it, rather than ask people to stop judging addicts for behaving like addicts.

And consider not just how comfortable/uncomfortable you might be with quitting drinking to send a message about personal responsibility and condemnation of drug dis-inhibited violence and abuse, but how comfortable you would be calling out your mates for drinking, passing judgement on them and making them feel bad for enjoying a drink. If you can sit comfortably with that, then I have no gripes against what I'm being asked to do, however I am in a position to observe your follow through much more easily than you can scrutinize mine.

The second example of behavior that both sexes can address centers around attitudes towards penetration. Specifically asking if someone has 'lost their V-plates' or as was my recent experience in a long distance relationship, having to field questions about how long-distance sex works, or how one can go without sex in a relationship. Behavior of this kind carries with it an implicit message that what counts in sex is penetration, rather than the acknowledgement that actually counts is not the act but someone's willingness to have sex with you. Aka consent. I have friends who give me a lot of pushback any time I express skepticism over the fait accompli arguments of feminists who have often enquired as to how long it's been since I got laid. Considering in this case a 19 year old perpetrator for whom we know nothing about, do we think the general socially acceptable attitudes to 'what counts' have more of an impact or the theory that he was specifically exposed to a group of male friends that laughed and joked and bragged about rape? I don't know. I don't know if the key influential figure on his attitude towards women, was his mother.

The opportunities for selfishness are myriad, but it remains to me the most promising way of addressing a motive based solution. In a lot of what I suggested above, I actually walk the walk, though there are some examples that serve the purpose of ridicule and hope to bring you to understand why I, for example, am going to consider but not necessarily act on all the aspects of rape culture that have been suggested that I consider. I'm not washing my hands, I'm inviting you to not do nothing and simply point the finger at 'those guys' you so confidently think are the rapists waiting to happen.

I haven't truly been tested, but I have been stressed and angry and in crisis before. At no point did it occur to me that raping someone or killing someone was what was necessary to feel better, perhaps because what was actually bothering me was too salient in my mind. I didn't need to take it out on a random stranger.

What I would like to think though, if tested, was that my notion of personal responsibility would prevail, and I'd probably just opt for suicide as my chosen form of self-destruction though this is still inconsiderate to those who have to deal with the aftermath. What I do notice, because my job positions me well to observe this: is that a sense of personal responsibility is incredibly rare in our (Australian) culture, and it is pervasive such that I couldn't name a category that is a particular culprit, thus everyone has an opportunity through addressing selfishness to own this problem as I have.

And calling on others to own it is not taking personal responsibility. Do what Jesus said, you can at least control yourself. I guess it's also a courtesy to not ask of me what you have demonstrated no willingness to examine in yourself. Since most of the public noise has revolved around 'motive' based problems/solutions you have my blessing to tune out rather than move onto the diminishing returns offered by discussing opportunity and means based solutions.

What I would point out though is that I've been thinking about these issues for a good long time, much longer than 3 weeks, and if you find that you can't be bothered watching videos I've linked to, or related posts I've linked to, articles or concepts I've linked to, I for one, do not blame you. I don't expect you to download large chunks of psychology, biology and legal theory in an afternoon.

It is not washing ones hands of an issue to accept a solution horizon that is multi-generational, to treat it as a lower priority than say climate change or economic justice (all interlinked) things that don't just effect discrete members of society but threaten the destruction of organized human life. It is not washing ones hands of an issue to considerately entertain all angles of an issue while in the meantime more women are dying because there is no solution that will come in time for them.

This very post provides no real answers simply because I've only worked on it in bits and pieces over a period of three weeks, though obviously it draws on ideas and introspection I've been doing for many years. It is in itself a knee-jerk response, and lets recognize that the furore that bursts onto social media is an extreme knee-jerk response by people who are unlikely to go on to contribute anything meaningful to a conversation at all.

Read on, if you're not exhausted already


Opportunity based solutions seem less righteous but are in my opinion more practical. Here though I feel like Sideshow Bob surrounded by endless supply of rakes to step on. Except those rakes are going to be called 'victim blaming'.

Which makes feel inclined to point out that 'victim blaming' is a judgement statement, it implies intent.

Where 'victim blaming' is a warranted criticism is where it is overtly stated that the victim is responsible for what happened to them, as are the legal defenses employed by the lawyers featured in the documentary 'India's Daughter' where the victim is literally blamed for being raped. (And it didn't fly in that case).

Where though, you interpret some suggestion as implying the victim is somehow responsible, that outrage you feel, I feel, is on you. When Victoria Police Superintendent Clayton stated "take responsibility for your own safety" that he was blaming Eurydice or anyone for what happened to them is your assertion, your chosen interpretation. I personally would prefer if people would be more charitable.

Because there's an alternative interpretation, a more charitable one. That is the Police acknowledging their own limitations to protect the community, and thus doing what they can - which is a list of best practice, risk minimizing precautionary behaviors directed at people who are motivated to not get hurt, raped and killed as well as a frank admission that they can't be there for everyone when they are needed.

Could the words have been chosen better with more sensitivity and less rakes to tread upon? I have no doubt.

But it does point to another uncomfortable question of addressing the issue, which is addressing the opportunity men have to rape and murder a woman who is unknown to them.

Brace yourself because here is the question that responsible people have to ask and many are not going to like it: Is the problem worth solving (this way)?

Specifically, more CCTV, more Police Presence, by arming women as deterrent, through curfews, through profiling, through intrusions and surveillance etc.

I'm alluding to Benjamin Franklin's (the non-slave owning founding father) admonition: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

It's a little judgemental, and I tend to recall it as ending "...will soon be deprived of both" rather than the deserving thing, but I try to keep in mind that the Police have to recruit from the same non-uniform, flawed stock of raw material known as human beings as every other institution. I would highly recommend when considering 'opportunity' focused solutions watching Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas episode dedicated to sexual misconduct by police.

It is possible that advances in technology will possibly make the world safer for women, a friend of mine suggested that machine learning in the style of Cambridge Analytica may use our social media behavior to identify rapists before they rape via algorithms in a Minority Report style future. I could conceive of cost effective drone technology providing a service whereby women can use a phone app to be tailed by a security drone as they walk the streets at night ensuring that anyone approaching them is caught on camera...

except masks, bandanas, a hood, tunnels etc. It might be safer, I'm not sure any acceptable solution will truly make things safe.

We have to consider that any world in which I woman is free to walk the streets at night is one in which a man is free to take it upon himself to rape and murder her. Freedom is not safety.

So I invite you now to empathize with the head of Victoria Police. Tasked with removing every dark corner of Melbourne in existence. With finding exemplary immaculate staff to be positioned to intervene everywhere. Do you feel this is a simple task? One that is not achieved for a lack of will?

If victim blaming statements by law-enforcement are the product of a lack of empathy, that is a two way street that I'd call on you to keep in mind. Statements made by people whose working reality is the constant reminder that they can't police everything but their job would be made that much easier if nobody took needless risks?

On questions of opportunity, I find myself skewered by a desire to be consistent. I'm of a camp that feels that we would all be safer if the Governments of Australia, The EU Nations and particularly The United States of America did not prosecute the war on Terror with such enthusiasm. That fighting terrorism makes it worse. That standing far removed from the personal tragedies of terrorist attacks, beyond the public outcry the impact of terrorist attacks even the Twin Towers attack, are negligibly small.

This isn't a position that says nothing should be done. Just don't invade Afghanistan, Iraq and destabilize the whole Middle East. Don't crack down on civil liberties as per Benjamin Franklin.

Furthermore, I'm skwered by the sound financial advice that in the domain of finance and the question of agency: you don't risk something important to gain something unimportant. As Warren Buffet stated 'you could offer me a million dollars to put a gun with one bullet in a thousand chambers to my head and pull the trigger, I wouldn't do it.'

And that's sadly, the most practical way to reduce opportunities to not get raped and killed by a man who has resolved to go out tonight and rape someone: to not be there.

Which is no solution at all. How many of the lives lost to traffic collisions were the result of something as trivial as impatience? I see people taking dumb risks every time I ride through Melbourne.

Eurydice was walking through a park, mobile phone in hand texting a housemate to expect her shortly. Jill Meagher was walking along a well lit street where her killer was caught approaching her on CCTV. These were risks much much smaller than a single bullet in a gun with a thousand chambers. Assuming roughly even population by gender, this is a single man in a population of 2.4 million men, a fraction multiplied by all the one dark corner out of all the dark corners he could have lurked in, by the frequency with which he chose the nights he could have chosen to await a victim.

It is hard to describe someone as extremely unlucky when there is clearly an agent that is responsible. But many people would describe themselves as lucky to have a partner or friend who equally had agency and responsibility to choose to be nice, loving and nurturing to them.

Plus when discussing opportunity, remembering the issue is women's safety from male perpetrated violence the biggest opportunity is behind closed doors into the home.

Here, the issue of safety has a lot of promise.

I don't think anyone wants police surveillance in their own homes, or a police presence (beyond the fact that police need love too) in the home.

But couples should not be isolated, alienated from their community. What I would call highly-dependent relationships, couples that disappear into each other. Sometimes, as has been my experience in insular relationships, the chief driver was a kind of passive laziness. We stopped going to the effort of socializing outside of the relationship. But some are more transparently dangerous - where your friends don't like your partner and so you turn your backs on eachother to maintain the relationship. Or where you partner places pressure on you to stop affiliating with your friends.

Is that a statement of victim blaming? If you choose it to be. But the fact is a lot of women do have agency to pick their killers. Perhaps even ask their friends to come out and endorse it in a massive, costly celebration.

While the men are ultimately culpable, the point being that decisions are made along the way, and it seems sadly, that if women do a good job of steering clear of men with bad values and attitudes, they become Incels, rather than lift their own fucking game.

Just days before Eurydice died, I did an exhibition on the Italian city of Genoa. I'm not plugged into the Genovese news cycle, I don't know if the city has had any recent high-profile rapes or murders. What it does have is a large labyrinthine historic center of narrow alleyways that I was repeatedly told to steer clear of after midnight. I had the experience of walking through those streets once after midnight. What mostly comes out at 1 am are rats. A friendly African man offered to sell me some drug I didn't bother to get the particulars of, so much as politely declined the sale and he left me alone. Other than that the streets were more or less deserted.

What was strange was that at no point from any of my interactions did I get the impression that Genovese women lived in fear. Even if rapes and murders were a regular occurrence (I have no reason, outside of the home to believe they were). In fact statistically Italy in many ways is identical to Australia, I did look into that.

I ride home many nights each week from work through dark backstreets of Melbourne and I see women walking un-escorted still. Melbourne is probably much safer than the historic center of Genoa at night, except that knowing that, people don't walk the historic center of Genoa at night, and perhaps why prostitutes and drug dealers work and solicit business throughout the day where the customers are.

The more I ponder, the more I think that opportunity is hard to prove. Do the potential murderers and rapists not show up in Genoa's center because the victims don't? I don't know. I suspect like Melbourne women frequently take the risk, and 999,999 times in a million are safe.

In the home is another matter, and I suspect both in preventing men from losing their shit and taking someone's life, and in women protecting themselves from winding up with these men the answer is clinical psychotherapy and learning. Destigmatizing divorce and making women's refuges easier. Reducing unproductive working hours to give everyone more time to spend as a community. Improving job security so people have things like annual leave to take and not only catch up and maintain social connections but reevaluate the routines of their own life.

These are the opportunities I would see tackled.


Nobodies really asking for these so I won't spend much time on it. But there are some interesting ideas.

I saw a bunch of memes centered on women using a set of car-keys as an improvised weapon in their hands when they walk at night. I don't think these would in a thousand cases make any difference.

I look at men that in my private comparisons I regard as scrawny in build and have to remind myself that they could still easily overpower most women I know. Furthermore, if someone told me I had to fight Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather in hand to hand combat but I could have a set of car keys or even a steak knife, I would not feel any reassurance from the knowledge that I was armed.

I thus am of an opinion that the core factor of means is the dymorphism between the sexes in the human species. I would not downplay the import of things like self-defense classes for women as being useful and empowering. But I suspect there are far more men studying some kind of martial art out there and that also, more tellingly in most of societies celebrated forms of violence men are divided into weight divisions because weight/size/reach probably has far more impact than skill.

There is no real solution to dymorphism, which is why I am somewhat relieved nobody took to social media and cried out 'come on men be smaller!' but it's worth maybe some consolation to look at examples of dimorphism in a wider species sense of examples where the female (large sex cell carrying organism) is larger than the male (small sex cell carrying organism).

Spiders, for example have a high prevalence of cannibalism of the smaller male mates. Male lives are generally reduced to being nothing but a transportation device for sperm where women outweigh men as the rule rather than exception. And you may say 'so what, it would be nice for men to have a turn as being reduced to nothing but a sexual function' but I feel anyone looking at the question of whether it is better to be born any spider or any human would fail John Rawl's veil of ignorance.

Plus reducing dimorphism is pure fantasy anyway, what about arming women? It's the failure of my imagination perhaps, but I don't see an ironclad way to give an armament advantage to one category that would keep it out of the hands of another. Even were it legal for only women (including trans-women) to carry knives or hand guns, this would mean ironclad definitions of what constitutes a woman which non of my progressive friends would welcome, and it would make it much easier for men to ilegally take possession of these weapons.

Guns are said to be the great equalizer, but in the good old US of A, it doesn't appear to have equalized squat. It seems by and large, women just don't get as aggressive as men, even with all the reasons in the world to lose their shit.

That's enough on means.

If you want a conversation with me:

You have to accept a starting position that is: I don't get to just believe what I want to believe.
You have to be willing to be uncomfortable, and even wrong.
You also don't get to distance yourself from 'them' in order to sit comfortably reassured that you belong to 'us'. I personally have never related to the need for affiliation though there are some scant few people I wish the validation of.
You have to not ask anything of me that you wouldn't ask of yourself. Exemptions are a failure of imagination.

I'm tired. That's it.