Arrghh where to start?
The #everydaysexism and #metoo hashtags have stirred up a lot of activity – mostly good that women are able to tell the world about their experiences, but some of the defensive, even aggressive, replies are hard to see/read.
My recent experiences in taxis have made me think and try to order my thoughts.
- T’other night I was cold and tired and there wasn’t a bus due for ages so I thought I’d take a black and white regulated minicab (not been in a taxi since last Xmas Day- see 2 below). The driver asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I’m a homeopath, partly because homeopathy is used widely in southern Asia so I thought we might have an interesting conversation, as my guess from his speech is that’s where he was from. He started looking at me in the mirror and asked ‘as I’m a professional’ could he talk about his ‘friend’s sexual problem’. I said no but he told me that his single middle aged ‘friend’ had seen a doctor etc. I didn’t say anything further and he eventually shut up. I was relieved but uneasy and didn’t go to my own front door until he’d driven away. The more I think about this the more pissed off I am. I felt unable to tell him he was out of order, as I was trapped in his car. I do not believe he was talking about a friend, he was trying to use me for some sort of sexual gratification and/or power play, but nothing was explicit.
- The last taxi I took before that was last xmas night when I was put into a taxi by a friend (admittedly I was drunk) then found on the street several hours later covered in blood, with broken ribs and head injuries. I have no idea what happened but it made me feel that taxis aren’t a safe space. Amber taxis wouldn’t speak to me about it ‘due to data protection’.
- The one before that was very friendly but kept trying to get a date with me because my pink hair made him think I’m ‘wild’.
So for me taxis are NOT safe, I’d rather take my chances on the streets. I used to chat to drivers, but these days am anxious that that will be misconstrued. What is to be done? Some people I have told about this (mainly men) can’t seem to understand that it’s not easy just to say I’m not interested. Us women have had years of feeling harassed, intimidated and standing up to someone when you’re trapped in their car is just not always possible.
This is only a tiny tiny part of the daily abuses of power in our patriarchal system. In my view it’s making most people ill, even those ‘privileged’ to be at the top of the heap. They’re obsessed with amassing money and power at the detriment of any feelings of humanity or fulfilling relationships, as far as I can see. Imagine being married to one! I can only guess at they’re approach to sex, and it’s not pretty.
I am sick of it, but have no idea what to do about it all. Day to day I try to speak up for myself, I don’t give way to men, physically or mentally, who assume I will. I take up reasonable space on buses and trains, even if I have to touch the adjacent manspreader. All this takes energy and courage.
If anyone wants to read Valerie’s SCUM manifesto I’ll happily send you a pdf. It may seem extreme but there’s some excellent points in there. Try to put aside your defensiveness and give the ideas a chance to permeate your consciousness. Obviously I don’t agree with the solutions offered (quite) but we need to look at our society with new eyes.
For example, we’re supposed to feel complimented by a stranger wanting to wank in our bodies just because we look attractive or available to them. Fine if two humans want to have sex for the physical enjoyment, but if you want it as part of a loving relationship then you need to know and like each other first. I can’t decide if sex dolls and their upgrades to sexbots will fulfill a need and thus take the pressure off (mostly) women, or if it will just encourage the objectification of women as things to put penises in. Ugh.
Anyway, enough moaning for now. We need kindness, love and generosity I reckon. I shall try to practise what I preach.