Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Everyday Sexism - Pushing Back

I drafted this a couple of weeks ago; and the Caroline Criado-Perez affair prompts me to post...



Some while ago I pledged that, when the opportunity presented itself, I would challenge any ‘everyday sexism’ that I encountered. An opportunity arose on Wednesday.  As I cycled between Shepherds’ Bush and Acton, late afternoon, I became aware that the car perhaps 100 metres in front of me had slowed down and someone inside the car was calling, or yelling.   Then I noticed the young mum, dressed for the sunshine and walking with her three year old, on the pavement travelling in the opposite direction to me and the car.

“…darlin’...”  “…gorgeous...”  “…marry me!...” came the snippets from the car.

The car having slowed down, I, on my bike, was nearing it, quite rapidly.

“Well done mate!” I called.  “Very grown up.”

He had slowed to a halt in the middle of the road; the woman was now twenty or thirty metres behind us; and I was about to pull level with the car.  The driver – the only occupant and clearly the source of the offensive remarks - was leaning out, aware now that someone had shouted at him, but clearly bemused.  As I levelled with the window, I had veered to the right – anxious, I think, that he was in a car and I was on a bike, and if things turned nasty it could get, well, dangerous – and I said:

“She wants to suck your dick mate! She does, really, she wants to such your dick!”

And he spluttered and began to shout and I turned off the road (I had in any case been intending to turn right) and I felt that I’d pitched it about right: ironic, belittling, shaming.

But is that right? My hope, I guess, is that the next time he’s on the verge of yelling something from the safety of his car some flash of humiliation, some memory of the fleeting shame he experienced, will cut him short.




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