The Courier Mail- Queensland
IN RESPONSE to the growing number of attacks and harassment of women on public transport, Rail Tram and Bus Union National Secretary, Bob Nanva, supported by the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, has proposed female-only pink carriages. Dubbed “Safe carriages”, these would operate after 7pm, have CCTV, alarms, and be located near the guard carriages.
In an effort to also make women feel safer, Perth has female-only parking bays at its Pier St car park. There are 28 out of a total of 700 and they’re close to the entrance, exits, upgraded lighting and CCTV.
Before misguided accusations are made that these ideas originate out of some lefty-feminist, neo- Marxist brain explosion designed to depict all males as violent, uncontrollable perverts, both concepts come principally from men. Men like Nanva and, in WA the City of Perth Chief Executive, Martin Mileham, are the ardent spokespeople and drivers of these changes.
Changes that have, ironically, divided people.
Concerns range from putting the onus back on women to be responsible for their own safety, victim-blaming, limiting women’s freedoms, to worries that if a woman chooses not to use there carriages/spaces and is attacked, is it her fault?
Those calling for female friendly spaces often cite other countries where separating the sexes has been successful: China, Brazil, Japan and Germany for example.
While we can learn positive things from those countries, I fail to understand how representing one sex as weak, vulnerable and in need of protection, corralling her into one area, with the other sex is construed as latent criminals, addresses the growing issue of violence and public safety.
These type of reductive and sexist binaries ignore the fact that men are also subject to and victims (albeit mostly without the sexual element), as victims of coward punches prove and their families and friends can attest.
Yet, long before “safe carriages” or “pink “parking, a schism positioning all men as potential perpetrator who pose a danger to women and children particularly, had already begun.
We tend to talk relentlessly about men as an all-encompassing collective when we discuss women’s safety or domestic or family violence, or pedophilia, tarring everybody with a penis with the same repellent brush. In doing so, we overlook the fact women, to a lesser degree, also perpetrate violence – against their own sex (female gangs, racist rants), the opposite one and children as well.
There’s a rule requiring that men aren’t seated next to unaccompanied minors on some airlines as firefighter, Johnny McGirr found in 2012.
And, in 2013, 70-year-old, Leo, was supervising his young granddaughter frolicking naked on a Sydney beach. He was reported anonymously to police, who accosted and questioned him, causing great distress to the entire family.
These few examples should concern us deeply. Not only to they point to a growing culture of paranoia, whereby all women and children are prospective victims of all men, but also all males are latent abusers who simply need the right set of circumstances for violence or abuse o erupt.
Through subtle social engineering, where rules are introduced and changes made – to trains, planes, and parking spaces – women are deemed “protected” (oppressed/controlled), and children are removed from situations where they might encounter men. Men choose not to enter professions and places that are child or female-centric.
Over time, this becomes normalised. We no long think about why we avoid or exclude men, why this apartheid exists. We don’t consider justice or equality.
Slowly, the notion that men are mad, bad ad dangerous becomes ingrained in ideology and culture.
We start to treat each other differently.
We need to put a halt to this.
Instead of spending money on “safe” carriages or parking space scheme, we should invest in further education and general public safety measures.
Overwhelmingly, most men are decent human being who likes us all, abhor those who harass, beat, kill or abuse women and children. How condescending to keep suggesting they refrain from such behaviours, as if they didn’t read the memo. It’s not men per se (or women) who behave like this, but awful, dysfunctional and violent human beings who lack respect, courage and civility.
Let’s stop holding up an entire sex as responsible.
It’s wrong, alienating and creates an “us and them” mentality based on fear and suspicion.
Paradoxically, it reinforces the very thing we don’t need: an unhealthy and ultimately damaging segregation that makes victims of us all.
Dr Karen Brooks is an honorary senior research fellow at the University of Queensland