The Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Campbell, spoke to new recruits at ADFA and advised them to protect themselves by avoiding the attention of would-be predators. He advised cadets to not fall victim to the “Four As: alcohol, out after midnight, alone and attractive”.
For this sound advice – risk mitigation – he has been slammed as blaming the victim.
Greens Larissa Waters said that Campbell’s comments
disgust me and every woman I know. Rapist and abusers and the institutions that protect them are the problem. It has nothing to do with how women dress or how late we’re out or whether we’re ‘too attractive’. How is this not already understood. Nothing will change while institutions like the Defence Force, Parliament, the church, the police and private schools continue to blame victims for the sexual violence they suffer instead of taking responsibility for their own toxic, boys’ club cultures. Clearly we need consent training in all systems and institutions. Only yes means yes.
In the real world, we know there are murderers, serial killers, rapists, thieves, sadists, and assorted criminals and would-be criminals who can be male, female and transgender. Prudent people assess the risk of a location, and how they stand out to reduce the risk of an assault.
It is not ‘blaming the victim’ to point out the risks and give advice on how to mitigate the risks. Maybe the world would be better if there weren’t badly behaving men and women, but that’s not the world we live in.
DFAT and Defence give advice to their employees on how they should dress and behave in various countries. They do this not to ‘blame the victim’ but to protect their employees.
Wearing modest dress in an Islamic country is pretty obvious, as is not drinking alcohol publicly or eating during daylight hours of Ramadan.
Or is Waters and her cohort saying that one can do what one pleases in Australia, but to be cautious in 0ther countries? Is she implying that Australia is somehow superior to other countries / cultures? Because I thought the Greens argue that all cultures are equal and have embraced critical theory?
The advice of Waters and others is harmful to women, because it increases the chance of them actually being a victim. Avoidance is better than getting into the situation where one might be a victim – and that requires us to recognise we all have agency – men and women – and not parade around mindless to threat falling over inebriated.