Jill’s Killer And The Monster Myth

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544880-jill-and-tom-meagher[Tom and Jill Meaghar]

 

In an essay for the Ireland-based White Ribbon campaign, Jill Meagher’s widowed husband has warned against the “monster myth” around men who commit appalling crimes.

Jill had been walking home from a bar in Melbourne [Australia] in September 2012 when she was raped and murdered by Adrian Bayley [a convicted sex offender] .

Tom Meaghar writes:

I dreamed for over a year of how I would like to physically hurt this man [Bayley], and still often relish the inevitable manner of his death, but wouldn’t it be more beneficial for Jill’s memory, and other women affected by violence to focus on the problems that surround our attitudes, our legal system, our silence rather than focusing on what manner we would like to torture and murder this individual?

Adrian Bayley murdered a daughter, a sister, a great friend to so many, and my favourite person. I am the first one who wants to see him vilified and long may he be one of Australia’s most hated people, but it only does any good if this example highlights rather than obscures the social issues that surround men’s violence against women.

What would make this tragedy even more tragic would be if we were to separate what happened to Jill from cases of violence against women where the victim knew, had a sexual past with, talked to the perpetrator in a bar, or went home with him.

It would be tragic if we did not recognise that Bayley’s previous crimes were against prostitutes, and that the social normalisation of violence against a woman of a certain profession and our inability to deal with or talk about these issues, socially and legally, resulted in untold horror for those victims, and led to the brutal murder of my wife.

We cannot separate these cases from one another because doing so allows us to ignore the fact that all these crimes have exactly the same cause – violent men, and the silence of non-violent men. We can only move past violence when we recognise how it is enabled, and by attributing it to the mental illness of a singular human being, we ignore its prevalence, it root causes, and the self-examination required to end the cycle. The paradox, of course is that in our current narrow framework of masculinity, self-examination is almost universally discouraged.

Since Jill died, I wake up every day and read a quote by Maya Angelou – “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Male self-examination requires this courage, and we cannot end the pattern of men’s violence against women without consciously breaking our silence.

The Danger of The Monster Myth (Tom Meaghar)

Tom Meagher opens up about violence against women and the trauma of confronting Jill’s killer (The Age)

Thanks Mark Geary