The Other Woman

Oh, Jill Meagher, late of Melbourne. I mourn for you. What a heartbreak your death was, for your loving partner Tom, your friends and colleagues, and your devastated family in Ireland.

And for all of us who still have not been able, after centuries of abductions and rapes and murders of innocent, defenceless women, to stop predatory men from getting their five minutes of satisfaction at the cost of the rest of their, and their targets', lives.

The real issue is misogyny - the hatred of women. An Australian sport, in some circles, and certainly the cause of a lot of recent trouble involving shock jocks and politicians. Call it disrespect, call it suspicion, call it fear - it leaks and seeps and suppurates; it insidiously slides into every level of interaction between men and women at every level of society.

We legislate for equality, but still we are far from it, on the factory floor or in the board room.

Even here in Lismore, where sensitive new-age guys may be over-represented, women still get murdered and their killers are never brought to justice. Think of the lovely Lois Roberts, and Simone Stroebel.

What can be said? It has always seemed like nothing - not the law, not mothers trying to raise decent sons, not society's sanctions - nothing will stop some men from doing this terrible, vicious, final thing. Men whose neighbours say, afterwards, "He seemed like a normal sort of guy".

But the Melbourne march that brought 30,000 people out of their homes gave me some hope. I don't know why - maybe it was the idea of the Hundredth Monkey effect, where if enough members of a society adopt and adapt to a new behaviour, it will spread to the whole society; or maybe it was the calm faces of the marchers, men and women and children, their gentle certainty that they were there to make a difference.

Something about watching that march lifted my spirits just a little.

It won't restore life to the millions of murdered, broken women who in their last moments suffered the insatiable hunger of the inadequate, predatory male too pathetic to pick on a stronger opponent.

But the Melbourne march for Jill was such a natural, obvious thing to do. One man crosses the boundary, one woman dies, and thirty thousand people walk down the street where it happened and say Enough. Stop It.

Call me optimistic, but for me, that carried an awful lot of power.

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