I don’t really feel qualified to be writing about this, or putting it on a public forum but it’s just so sad and there always seems to be a need to share when bad things happen. To express – i don’t even know, empathy? apology?.
I know it is naïve to forget that bad things happen, or to think that they won’t or that they can’t. But I feel like everyone is reeling from the same sense of shock right now.
That a girl could be senselessly killed on our streets. That her body could be carelessly left in the mountains bordering our city. It’s a bad nightmare come true. It’s not fair, it’s not right and it makes me feel sick.
Grace Millane was the same age as me, dancing in the same clubs I dance in. I walked home that night at about 11pm – straight down the same street she was last seen on. We might have been there at the same time. The whole incident is surrounded by what ifs and possibilities and this lingering hope that this is a nightmare that didn’t happen but it did. It really just, did.
There are no lessons for women to learn from this. I am already scared to walk alone at night. I walk fast, with my key gripped in my hand. I text my flatmates to let them know I am on my way. I like to think I am careful, sometimes overly cautious. I watch my drink in the clubs – but the sick and the sad thing is that none of that really matters.
Women already know all of these unspoken safety rules – Grace knew them, she would have been following them. And yet somebody still hurt her.
But even though this is terrifying it is not the time to victim blame or fearmonger. I know that my parents text me, and lots of my friends parents text them to send their love and express concern and I know that all of us are shaken because the is that this could have happened to any girl. It could have happened anywhere.
And so there is nothing to be gained from policing the way that women travel, or dress or the places they choose to go. This is not the time to start condemning women for drinking or partying or meeting people in clubs or off dating apps. Bad things happen even when we are careful, and even when we are trying our hardest to play it safe.
Instead this whole event is a reminder for New Zealand that horrible nightmarish things can still happen in our cities. They happen in 2018, and they happen to kind people who don’t do anything wrong. It is about how we need to be better at looking out for women by actually looking out for them. By speaking up for them – by calling out all the sick jokes and misogynistic or angry comments that people make – by not expecting every girl to give you something in return for a compliment or an act of kindness.
It’s not about “not all men,” it’s about this one woman who was murdered on a night out the day before her birthday in a city we thought was safe enough. It’s about how fucking tragic and awful that is. It’s about how we all need to start doing better.
I am still always going to walk home a little scared, but that fear isn’t enough to save me if anyone wishes me harm. The only thing we can really do is hope, and look after who we love and look after the people around us – strangers or not.
All the love from our household to Grace’s. There are no words and I can’t even imagine but I am so sorry all the same. And all the love to the girls out there, who shouldn’t have to feel afraid.
But mostly love to Grace. Who didn’t deserve to have an ending like that, but will be remembered with love and apology and empathy by all of us for a very long time.
Rest easy beautiful.