Jessica Valenti, The Nation blog:
Last week Mexico City unveiled women-only buses as a way to battle the increasing sexual harassment on public transportation.
Some men treat women so badly that the subway system has long had ladies-only cars during rush hour, with police segregating the sexes on the platforms.
But that hasn’t helped women forced to rely on packed buses, by far the city’s most-used form of public transportation — until this week.
Acting on complaints from women’s groups, the city rolled out “ladies only” buses, complete with pink signs in the windshields to wave off the men.
Pink signs, huh? I’m all for safe spaces for women, but is segregation really an answer to sexism? I’ve written about this trend of women-only spaces before, most recently for The Guardian, and I still fail to see how this is anything but a temporary solution to a systemic problem.
There’s no doubt the harassment women face in public spaces needs to be addressed – whether it is on the street, the train, or even the internet. We’ve been subjected to regular catcalls and groping for far too long. But while the idea of a safe space is compelling, this international trend – which often comes couched in paternalistic rhetoric about “protecting” women – raises questions of just how equal the sexes are if women’s safety relies on us being separated. After all, shouldn’t we be targeting the gropers and harassers? The onus should be on men to stop harassing women, not on women to escape them.
What an interesting idea — require men to curb their own behavior, rather than creating man-free zones for women. “Boys will be boys” only goes so far. When you can’t even ride the bus home after a long day at work without being assaulted, it’s gone way too far.
If we’re going to make women safe, let’s make them safe everywhere – not just in designated areas.
Read the whole article here.