On Monday night my car was attacked by teenagers. While I was in it. I was driving past a train station and a group of about 10-12 teens, the majority of which were male, were crossing the road. I had a green light but, as anyone who had an L-Trent lesson before their provisional drivers license test will tell you, pedestrians always have right of way. I was expecting an apologetic, or at least appreciative wave as I stopped to let them pass. Instead they stared me down, yelled some things and punched my car.
There's a dent in my passenger door -- but the damage goes far beyond that. Because aside from frightening me to the point of tears they also proved they had absolutely zero respect for me as a person. And in case my byline hasn't given it away, I'm a woman.
Sure, it could have happened to anyone regardless of their gender. But the point is, it didn't. I want you to think about that. Because I have. My boyfriend has. My Dad has. My housemate has. And one thing we can all agree on is that the chances of it happening to one of them, in their big ol' utes, are a lot lower. In fact, even having one of them sitting in my passenger seat probably would have changed the outcome.
And isn't that exactly what every girl is taught? Men can hurt you, but they'll also protect you. You should text when you get home, avoid being alone anywhere after dark and make sure you have your keys ready when you're walking to your car. Speaking of cars, you should always lock the doors. Unless you're in the car with your partner, because the chances of him hurting you are actually pretty high. Oh, and never answer the door if you're home alone, unless you're expecting someone. But even then, that someone could hurt you.
But what I want to know is, when did driving home from a hairdresser appointment at 7pm on a Monday night become the wrong place at the wrong time?
Those teens felt totally OK about intimidating me. In fact, it was almost mindless behaviour. It was day one of the school holidays, after all. The whole exchange happened in about two minutes and I doubt they thought long and hard about gender inequality and whether they had respect for women before they did those things.They just knew I wasn't going to get out, chase them and ask for their name and address just to avoid paying the $821 excess on my insurance. I was powerless in that moment and they knew it. That's what troubles me most.
A national study showed that young Australians have alarming views on violence against women, with 22 percent of young people agreeing that men should take control in relationships, two in five believing rape resulted from men not being able to control their sexual urges and 20 percent believing women often said 'no' when they meant 'yes'.
Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday: "We have to make it as though it was un-Australian to disrespect women. We must become a country which is known for its respect for women."
If these kids have these underlying views, whether it comes from a place of naivety or not, bad things are going to continue to happen. Shitty kids grow up and they take their shitty views with them.
I'm not suggesting these teens represent all teens, I'm just angry that they have enough power to affect how safe I feel when driving home at 7pm on a Monday night.