I’m a very small woman with a damaged back. In a society that bans weapons, I am at an obvious physical disadvantage compared to the average person. For some people, that makes me a fragile petal worth defending. For other people, that makes me an ideal victim.  My larger, stronger or less broken friend (i.e. most of them) don’t have to worry about that. I do.

I’m not unique in my predicament. Predators with half a brain choose their prey via a cost-benefit analysis. If you’re perceived as low risk or high stake, your chances of being targeted are greater.

As it turns out, my larger or maler friends have different problems. They are at much higher risk  than me for other kinds of crimes. Statistically, men constitute the overwhelming majority of violent crime victims… but we will ignore that for the now, because this isn’t about them: it’s about ME, having to be concerned by issues that do not affect other people. Which, as some people will loudly point out, is not fair.

We are a society that aims to be egalitarian, yet there is an obvious inequality in our chances of becoming victims. Some people have picked up on it and made a simple demand: they want the most desirable potential targets among us to be free to engage in absolutely any behaviour less desirable target would, without their weakness or circumstances being exploited by third parties. For instance, I should have the right to display my body and my wealth without anyone trying to take advantage of them, even though it looks relatively easy.

It’s not about my right to justice if I become a victim; it’s about my right not to be victimised in the first place. It’s not about the right to use equalisers, either; I have the right not to want to have them, because my large friends don’t need them. It’s the unfairness of me being more of a target than most that is the issue here; and this unfairness is a social issue. I have the right to demand that society make it as safe for me to do whatever I want whenever and however I want as it would be for a large, strong male.

What we seem to forget is that this problem isn’t novel. The reason so many historical texts bang on relentlessly about “protecting the weak” is that they were deemed needing extra protecting.

One society managed to overcome that problem. There was once an empire that achieved such internal peace and safety that its leader could boast that “a virgin with a bag of gold around her neck could walk naked from one end of my realm to another without being attacked.” That leader was Genghis Khan. And yes, the Mongol Empire was one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse empires in history, a haven of religious tolerance, as well as a meritocracy. However, those achievements were cast in the blood of up to 40 million people.

Now, I’m not saying that the only way to increase public safety is genocide, because I’m not a complete moron. I’m saying that in order to stop the disparities between me and that of a large man being a factor in my potential victimisation you’d need to put into place a host of external factors, including monitoring and punishment. I don’t know how far you’d have to go to completely eliminate my disadvantage: psychometric testing and culling or incarceration of potential threats? Widespread hypnotic suggestion? Oh, and you’d have to increase my safety without making it more risk effective to kill me and throw me in a river than to rob or assault me, too.

I’m not sure what shape that society would take, but I’m pretty damn sure that I wouldn’t want to live in it.


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