Comment is Free contributors may well be able to write, but they don't all seem to be able to read very well....

Grrrrr! Is it me, or if you are going to be given a platform on something as well read as Comment is Free, might it just be a little bit reasonable for you to check your facts before launching into an attack on what somebody is suggesting?

A while back, Brian Paddick spoke about making public transport at night more women friendly by putting guards on certain trains late at night. He was reported as saying such in the Guardian which reported it as 'women friendly'? That's not women only, but women friendly. The article goes on to say that:

"...the designated tube carriages would aim to offer a safe environment for women and old people, but would be open to everyone".

So that's not segregation, just a suggestion of some people that such a policy might benefit.

Yesterday, Cath Elliott wrote a Comment is Free Post railing against Brian's proposals. Although she mentions the carriages as women friendly, she goes on to spend several paragraphs arguing against single sex carriages suggesting that that is Brian Paddick's proposal.

You know, it wouldn't have taken long for her to look up Brian's Transport Manifesto to see what he actually said; it took me, oh, 3 seconds.

I happen to agree with her about single sex carriages; they are a terrible admission of failure and her concerns about them are all fair and valid. But that's not what Brian is suggesting!!

The Comment is Free piece was written a whole week after the article in the Guardian; was she so lacking in inspiration that she had to misrepresent Brian's policy in order to write an analysis of why single sex carriages are wrong?

You know, I went on the Reclaim the Night march last November and will no doubt be going on it this November, so I'm with the programme, so to speak. But it really is irritating to have such a strong analysis of why women should not be pushed to the margins in the face of sexual violence based on a suggestion that nobody had actually made!

It's lazy journalism and lazy thinking.


CathElliott said...
22 Feb 2008, 13:49:00


I'd just like to clear up a couple of points raised in your piece.

As I acknowledged further down the thread, I know that Brian didn't propose segregated carriages, but unfortunately this is exactly where his proposal will take us. It won't be long before the 'women friendly' carriage will be regarded by tube users as the 'ladies' carriage, and there will be an expectation that that is where women should sit. Brian should have proposed increased security for all tube users, not singled out women as being in need of special protection.

The blog came a week after the proposal simply because I was away when the announcement was made. When I got back I went through what had been happening in my absence, came across this, and decided I needed/wanted to say something about it.

Sorry if my piece irritated you, but I do think it's important to have these debates. As you can see from the thread,and from Bidisha's piece on the same subject, there are people out there who believe sex segregation on public transport is the way to go; we need to ensure that that kind of thinking is challenged whenever it comes up.

Good blog site by the way. I've now bookmarked you.

Jo Christie-Smith said...
22 Feb 2008, 15:22:00

Hmmm, well perhaps you could have made your 'thin end of the wedge' argument a little bit clearer in your original posting, becasue it seemed to me (and the vast majority of commenters after that) that you were conflating women friendly, with women only.

Like I said, I agree that segregation is bad, bad, bad and I can see the argument of having women friendly carriages being a thin end of the wedge. Especially when it comes your v good point about what will happen when a womne gets attacked out of the dafety zone.

The thin end of the wedge argument is fine and your opinion; what I was objecting to was the fact that everybody came away with the idea that Brian wanted segregated carriages.He didn't! You know, I care about what people think of him!!

These are complex ideas and their communication will always be a bit like chinese whispers but I'd rather the mutation didn't happen quite so early!

I'm glad you like the blog however and thank you for your bookmark!!

The debate are very important and I agree they need to be had again and gain and again, it would seem.

Meral Hussein Ece said...
22 Feb 2008, 20:15:00

I don't know why a perfectly straightforward proposal by Brian Paddick has been highjacked into a 'call for segregation' The only people out there saying that are the people who seem to be (deliberately?) taking this out of context. Do women feel safe travelling at night on the tube? - No. Would we feel safer if their were guards on some carriages? Yes. Its not just women, what about young people? I don't like my 16 year old son travelling back on the tube- or the bus for that matter, late at night.
How many women get onto a carriage late at night on the tube, choosing one with more women? I know I do. Its about keeping safe and taking precautions.

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