Business of Men

Earphones are the new mini-skirt


I’ve been fuming since I read several newspaper reports about the tragic recent stabbing death of a young woman who was walking home. She was wearing earphones, the newspaper reported the police spokesman saying. And so, she may not have heard her attacker coming upon her.

This is the latest iteration of the “what-did-she-expect-if-she-was-dressed-like-that” tactic of blaming women for the violence they experience at the hands of men.

It’s so tempting, even as I write this post, to fall into the same trap.

She was walking home in broad daylight, I might point out, or she walked that way every day. But the reality is that even if she was walking through the park in the middle of the night, in a mini skirt and stilettos and wearing earphones, those are not the reasons this women was attacked.

She was attacked because a violent man was out of control,

I wonder if it was a man wearing earphone who was attacked, whether his attire would have been mentioned at all. In all the tragic stories of young men being king hit at nightclubs, I have not seen the report note the length of his trousers or the number of buttons he had undone on his shirt.

Such attitudes are deeply ingrained in all of us, both men and women.

And the same kind of blaming happens in the business world – women are not promoted because they do not try hard enough or try too hard, they expose too much cleavage, their hair is the wrong length, or they don’t speak up.

Of course, we must take responsibility for our behaviours in the world as it is, and not in the world as we would wish it to be. In our world, walking in stilettos at midnight is dangerous, and not speaking up at meetings will likely mean women are overlooked for promotion.

But let’s not get confused about why.


About Kath Walters

Trainer. Mentor. Speaker. Kath Walters is a former Fairfax business journalist turned expert in media relations and content marketing. Kath trains and mentors businesses that want to use media and content to build their profile and profits -- and change the world for the better -- sharing everything she has learned over 16 years of writing and editing for top quality print and digital media mastheads. Kath has written an estimated 1.3 million compelling, informative and carefully researched words. The mastheads that have published them include: LeadingCompany, BRW, Australian Financial Review, SmartCompany, Business Spectator, Crikey, Women’s Agenda, Property Observer.

1 Comment


    Gary B. Jefferson

    April 8, 2015 at 10:42 am

    We live in a world where the aggressor ALWAYS blames the victim. People of color know this oh so well. If you notice, I said people of color–non-specific. Not to make light of this woman’s plight, but you can replace the crime with any other criminal activity and the victims will always be the cause of their own demise in this world. Israelis killing Palestinians come to mind. How many people are killed in the name of some bs “god?” This is not a wonderful world in “reality.”

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