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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tube tips for women

This morning's Guardian highlights a fairly patronising piece of literature from Transport for London designed to help women get the best out of journeys on the Tube.

Now I hold a fairly controversial view that despite the shortcomings of their transport system most Londoners do not appreciate what they have got. It is true that the tube network can do with substantial investment but even with all the problems of breakdowns, bomb alerts and overcrowding the benefits of regular and fairly frequent trains combined with a substantial bus service can not be bettered in most of the rest of Britain.

Nevertheless, Zoe Williams does have a point when she objects to the sheer offensive of this TfL leaflet:

The offensive bit is the stuff surrounding it, divided by bullet points in the shape of lipsticks, covered in swirling graphics to recreate the atmosphere of a tube map, in pretty pinks and purples. Apparently, it was written "by women for women" - before I even got to the words, I was irritated by this. I don't even think it's acceptable to address teenagers in pink and lipstick, but at the very least patronise teenage boys to the same degree with graphic footballs and hamburgers and other reductive, I'm-just-stomach-and-ball-games imagery. Nobody, not in a million years, would talk to a cross-section of adult males like that.

Wait for their top tips - "Carry a snack like a cereal bar with you" say these "women". (Who are they? Why do we need a cereal bar? Might our blood sugar levels plummet because our corsets are too tight? Is it because of the silly faddy diets we're all on?) "If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, hop off and get in the next carriage." (Hop? Is it touchy to point out that the only people who are ever instructed to "hop" or, for that matter, "pop" are those considered, usually by medical support staff, to be mentally subnormal?) "Want to meet in a more glamorous location than the tube station? Tubeguru lists bars..." (Why, thank you kindly. Delicate lady sensibilities find it hard to negotiate the ugly functionality of the tube interior. We like pretty drinks! Make them pinker! How can we reapply our lipsticks, besides, under ugly fluorescent light? Oh, be still my plunging blood sugar. Where's a cereal bar when I need it?)

We know that it's all too easy for the tube to rock you to sleep... if you think you might nod off, take a cab." (We can file "nod off" with "hop" and "pop"... and, for God's sake, are we now too vulnerable to our untrained physical urges actually to take public transport?) "Things like twisted ankles can be a real pain" (as a non-feminist objection, is that supposed to be some kind of sub-word play?) "so mind your step - especially if you're wearing your party shoes." Party shoes! We might fall off our party shoes! But our mummies will be with us, surely? What if we have a little accident?

I suppose that the leaflets are not widely available in tube stations because they no longer have waste bins in which outraged commuters can deposit them.
Comments:
You know my feelings on equality Peter - it should mean just that, i.e. people treated equally, regardless of sex, race, religion, etc. etc. This stereotypical nonsense really annoys me, especially when proliferated by those who claim to hate it so much!

Just stop it. I don't want to be treated any differently because I am a woman, I don't need special leaflets to explain the ways of the world. There is nothing wrong with lipstick and high heels and pretty pink ribbons - if that's what you want (you being anyone male or female!). Doesn't appeal to everyone, just as football, rugby, fast cars, etc are not the sole domain of men.

Treat me as a person. That's equality.

(Rant over! For now. Must be working with you Peter, brings out my opinionated side!)
 
Couldn't agree more. That is why I highlighted this nonsense.
 
Your argument is too simplistic Karen.

They tried that idea in France ("everyone's a Frenchman... no one should be treated differently etc...").

The French Government's refusal to acknowledge statistics and respect diversity has led to riots on the streets.

If unemployment is low amongst, for example, Muslims, measures should be introduced to tackle this problem specifically.

Equality is a social state of affairs in which certain different people have the same status in a certain respect. Equality does not mean "people treated equally".
 
So sorry David that my comments are not complex or philosophical enough for you, but the some of us live in the real world and don’t really find the need to indulge in melodrama at every turn.

Equality means that people should be treated with parity - with an equal amount of respect and without being patronised. Tackling unemployment amongst – to quote your example – Muslims is hardly comparable to what we have here. Nobody is arguing that you don’t need to use different means of communicating with various people, but that is a far cry from endorsing stereotypical images that do nothing to advance the cause of equality.

But then from a member of a Party who think all women shortlists is the way forward it is hardly surprising.
 
You don't need to apologise to me for your inability to see things beyond face-value. However I do find your last comment about all-women shortlists quite surprising, since one of your bosses (Kirsty Williams) is a strong advocate of them. Perhaps you still have a bit of Plaid in you.
 
Just one final comment for you David as I don't think we should turn Peter's blog into a discussion forum betwen the two of us.

Not sure about the reference to Plaid, other than the fact that the Labour Party locally seem almost obsessed with the fact that I was once a member of that Party and like to keep reminding the general public as if it some great new revelation. (Both Leighton Andrews and Chris Bryant have referred to the fact on various occasions in the local press)

Plaid announced a whole ago their intention to bring in positive discrimination by means of putting women at the top of their regional lists.

The thing about being a member of the Welsh Liberal Democrats you see is that we are allowed to express opinions. The fact that mine differs from Kirsty's on this subject is of no consequence, and it is certainly no secret as I openly voted against it when discussed at Conference.

You lot really should learn to loosen up a bit you know!!

Oh and does your boss know you are blogging on his time? And presumably on Assembly equipment?
 
You shouldn't presume anything Karen. Just becuase you seems to spend your whole day posting controversial messages on Aberdare Online which inevitably get you into trouble, I am usually far too busy during work hours.

I am not blogging from the Assembly (although I can't see anything wrong with it, as Peter and Leighton both do!). If you must know, at this moment I am sitting in a Cyber Cafe on City Rd, Cardiff.
 
Trawling through your many posts on Aberdare Online, I'm surpirsed you have time to do any work when you're in the office...
 
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