Did I mention we’re having a Corbyn-bashing week at the Backbencher? It’s too good to resist; the latest hilarity to come out as a legitimate viewpoint by the man himself is that he would consider backing women-only carriages. Fret not, I’m not going to go all “Men’s rights!!! Male only train carriages!!! Stop women flirting with homosexuals!!!” on you, but the idea that the State should assign where genders travel in 21st century Britain is preposterous, on both political levels and in terms of women’s welfare. It says something when the only other countries to have introduced this are Japan, India, Egypt, Russia, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates; all stunning examples I know.
It’s become rather a feature of the left to represent a glorious beacon under which disadvantaged groups can shelter for eternity, instead of actually changing the conditions that create said disadvantage; Rosa Parks is rolling in her grave.
The Proposal stems from a reported 21-25% increase in sexual offences reported on trains and stations from 2014. Leaving aside the rumour that this is merely down to increased numbers of sexual crimes being reported, owing to encouragement through a public campaign, a knee-jerk response to the situation by mollycoddling a certain group does not seem to be a particularly constructive way to deal with it. If women are to feel safe on the tube then, just as with any other crime, we need individual protection and responsibility.
Firstly, in terms of a purely women’s issue, it effectively relegates women’s status to victim; in the eyes of the state they are mewling kittens, incapable of independent agency, with men all being potential rapists. It’s incredibly defeatist and almost verges on victim blaming, it reminds me of people being pestered in school being moved to a different part of the classroom. It completely ignores the fact that there is something present in society which leads to sexual violence. Running away from the issue and not focussing on the perpetrator sends a bad message to young women everywhere, that being we can’t handle these criminals in the modern world. Violent men will find other outlets for whatever problems they have, what happens when a targeted woman gets off the train? I am not saying moving carriage or away from the distress is a permanent or acceptable solution, but to systematically engineer transport carriages over and above normal responses to encroachment makes women look systematically weak, and looking weak is blood in the water to predators.
If we take gender out of the equation for one moment, positing that creating carriages for people who feel uncomfortable or threatened would be a laughable proposal. Why are we shaming people as being categorically weak? Why a separate carriage? Why not the other side of the carriage? It all seems rather arbitrary. Shunting all the “weaklings” into one area simply represents a huge sign saying “vulnerable, defenceless and on edge prey be here”, rather like gun control in densely populated areas. Wait what?
Rather, we should be focussing on providing common safety and a framework under which people can act freely. Whether it comes in the form of train assistants to the guard, or security, it matters not; but the idea that we start meddling with particular demographics whilst being on the back foot sets a dangerous and backwards looking tone, regardless of the cause. People are not chess pieces for the state to play around with, devoid of responsibility and thoughts. To create lasting change, individual respect and responsibility need to flourish; not something the State is famed for cultivating.
I’m all for a “safe space” on the tube, with that safe space being the tube. If said tube is not safe, shying away from the issue will never resolve it. We should be able to enjoy common places without fear of attack, simply splitting up the genders by demonising one and emaciating the other doesn’t quite solve the underlying issue: that sexual assault is illegal and needs to be cracked down on. If someone is abusing another member of society they must be removed; crime-proof zones shouldn’t be an exception, they should be the rule.
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