Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Women only

On my way to Moorgate this morning I sat on a tube carriage which very speedily became women only. It was just one of those things. I looked up at one point and realised I was a lone man in a sea of femininity. I'm afraid many of the women sitting with me were rude. One decided she wanted to sit next to me, where my umbrella was resting, but instead of asking if I'd mind moving it, she kicked my foot, pointed at the umbrella and grunted like a caveman. She threw herself down on the seat, immediately changed her mind, stood up again, and in the process shunted my computer so hard that it slid down my leg. Did she apologise? Did she f**k! Worse still, the group of girls she was with burst into peels of hysterical laughter as I grappled to restore the scene's factory settings.

As a result of this, and myriad other reasons, which I'm about to list, when the debate kicks off properly about whether or not there should be women only carriages on British trains and tubes, I shall be arguing most firmly against.

Firstly, as evidenced today, men do not have the monopoly on abusive, rude or anti-social behaviour. A bloke on a tube surrounded by a gang of girls, particularly an elderly one, could be made to feel hugely intimidated. Probably not as intimidated as a woman travelling on her own surrounded by a group of men, but intimidated none the less. On that particular note, if group of lads heading home after a night on the town are wanting to cause problems, are they really going to be put off by a sign which says "women-only"? Of course they're not. In fact, I suspect, the taboo of entering the woman-only carriage could well prove too alluring to ignore.

On another note, I think it's also worth remembering that men travelling on their own - particularly late at night - are, in my view, just as likely to attract "unwanted attention" as women... It's a different sort of attention but the consequences are no less unthinkable. Men get beaten up on the streets all the time. They give another bloke the "wrong look" and all hell breaks loose. Funnelling men into single sex carriages fuels testosterone and creates dangerous powder kegs. In fact I'd go as far as to suggest that the presence of women makes men behave with more decorum towards one another.

Worst still, feminine men and transpeople are red rags to the bullish behaviour of a certain type of pissed-up gang. Protecting women from this but not members of the LGBT community, the elderly or, indeed just men who don't want to get involved, is almost too horrifying and negligent for words. On so so many occasions in the past, I've been forced to cross the road from a group of lads, or move carriages because I've felt uneasy, or been jeered at for wearing an AIDS ribbon.

Tackle the behaviour of louts by all means, but not like this, because by doing it this way, you're sacrificing one person's safety for another.

I had lunch with Meriel today in a rainy Spitalfields Market. We had veggie pie and mash, which was rather delicious, before taking a walk along Brick Lane and back round to Moorgate where I took the tube back home and worked on the Brass scores until midnight. Not a great way to spend a Bank Holiday, but I guess the weather was so awful, so anything else would have been a nonsense.

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