Friday, February 15, 2008

Paddick's Message Twisted Shock

The Guardian has embarked on a curious little two-part project in the last couple of days. First, an article picking up Brian Paddick's policy of putting a guard on a carriage of every tube train after 9pm. To the Guardian's ears, this means "women friendly tube carriages":

Women-friendly train carriages with guards on duty after 9pm would be introduced across London's underground network as part of a radical raft of transport measures to be unveiled today.

Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat's mayoral candidate, says every tube running at night should have a clearly marked carriage with a uniformed guard in direct contact with the police.

At the launch of his transport manifesto at Vauxhall bus station in south London the former police commander will also announce plans to put teams of police guards on the late-night buses that have the worst record for violence and antisocial behaviour.

It wasn't an explicitly sex related policy, but to be fair, Brian is quoted as saying:

"Some people are put up off travelling by public transport at night because they don't feel safe," Paddick told the Guardian last night.

"Many women have told me they would feel reassured if there was a uniformed presence on tubes and buses after the evening rush hour.


"Talking to many women, they have told me that they do not feel safe on public transport at night but can't afford taxis, so are being forced to stay at home, which is simply unacceptable."
So part one: Make a policy (designed to put a guard on tube trains so people who feel unsafe have somewhere to go) into a policy for "women friendly" carriages, and raise the issue of women-only carriages by illustrating the story with a picture of a women-only carriage on the Tokyo tube.

Part two: Seemingly rabid feminist Bidisha writes an absolutely barking opinion piece on CiF, where she elides Paddick's policy with all-women carriages without a care in the world. Under the headline

In praise of ladies' trains

Brian Paddick's idea is laudable, but segregation won't solve the problem of men behaving badly

she wrote that
"The Liberal Democrat's London mayoral candidate yesterday proposed "women-friendly" carriages across the capital's underground network, policed by guards after 9pm, an idea similar to the women-only train carriage scheme that operates in Japan."
This is only in the slightest bit true if there was any intention in Paddick's policy of creating segregated carriages. Which there wasn't, as far as I know. She continues:
It's good that Paddick has raised this as an issue because it shows his recognition that groping and verbal harassment are sex crimes, not simply a part of the merry pageant of life in which one encounters all sorts of quirkily eccentric characters to write home about. But is policed or segregated night-time transport really the answer?
So having told us this is designed to be a solution to sexism (which it isn't), we are now to be treated to a whole piece on why it isn't a good solution to this problem (well duh).
For all his good intentions, Paddick hasn't understood the nature or extent of harassment. Does he think that all sex criminals do Sudoku puzzles during the day then come out on the dot of nine, taking up their posts in dark corners and train stations? Most of the harassment I have experienced, witnessed and heard about occurred in daylight hours ...

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