Monday, May 11, 2009

Do women really need 'women-only' taxis? Ask the male taxi drivers falsely accused of rape

A women-only cab company in the UK is another in a wearying cavalcade of cultural manifestations proving beyond all doubt that women are irrationally fearful of men. "Its lurid pink cars and women drivers were launched to provide a safe and hassle-free service for women of all ages worried about getting into taxis driven by men." The company founders "set up the service after their daughters and friends spoke of their unease at being the last one left in a taxi with a male driver after a night out." The company's drivers "only pick up women members and can turn down male customers." Because, of course, women, and only women, are at risk of violence.

I know this goes against their rape-culture metanarrative, and I am sorry to muddy up a perfectly good victim fetish, but anyone not intoxicated on Women's Studies courses knows that innocent men are victims of violence far more often than women. There is no dispute about that whatsoever. You can even consult sources that feminists would consider unimpeachable: Yes Means Yes: Visons of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Vallenti (2008) at page 23: "Men are 150 percent more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than women. . . . Men are more likely to be victimized by a stranger . . . ."

Did you get that? Yet each year we have an entire month dedicated to women's fear of men under the guise of raising awareness of sexual assault. Some hotels have "women-only" floors to "protect" women from males. Some beaches are off-limits to men. And now we have a cab company that practices apartheid in favor of women for their supposed safety.

The result? Well, for purposes of this blog, a false rape culture, of course. With all the irrational fear-mongering Chicken Littles running about warning women not that "the sky is falling!" but that "men can't be trusted!" the slightest whiff of a rape allegation is automatically believed, and the male-as-predator hysteria gives automatic plausibility to every rape claim, even the ones that are false. The problem is, when a rape accuser is automatically believed, the man or boy she accuses is automatically branded a "rapist" in the court of last resort, the dinner table where clucking tongues pass judgment on everything under the sun based on nothing more than vague, unsubstantiated feelings.

The irony is that it's men, not women, who probably need gender-segregated taxis. Male taxi drivers are among the groups frequently targeted for false rape claims.

Don't want to pay your fare? If you're a woman, just cry "rape!" and destroy a man's life to save a few dollars. Need a handy male to accuse of rape to explain some illicit sexual encounter? Your friendly cab driver will do just fine, thank you.

Ask Clive Bishop if you don't believe me. He's the cab driver who picked up 17-year-old Kirsty Palmer and a friend and took them to a nightclub. At 1 a.m., Palmer's friend called him and asked to pick her up. He reluctantly agreed. Palmer was very drunk and had already been sick. When Mr. Bishop dropped her off he made sure that she got to her door. The next morning the police arrived at Mr. Bishop's residence and arrested him for allegedly raping Palmer. “They took scrapings from my fingernails. Then they took some hair, samples of my pubic hair and then a swab from my penis. It was humiliating. I felt like I was guilty when I knew I’d done nothing wrong.” Palmer maintained her story for three full months, by which time forensics had all but cleared Mr. Bishop. After six weeks his possessions and car were returned to him, minus the back seats. He lost his business and his life has been turned upside down. Unlike victims of even non-violent rape, Mr. Bishop was not entitled to compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

And then there's Mohammed Taj, the cab driver who tried to help a woman but who was falsely accused of rape instead. He was arrested and subjected to an intimate medical examination. Thankfully, modern technology -- here a video camera -- showed the woman transmogrify herself into a "victim" only when police came around. The woman was sentenced to six months imprisonment but a sexual assault counselor complained that “if people are reading that these allegations are false and someone gets six months, it leads them not to report any incidents.”

And remember the the cab driver who had police storm into his home after a young woman accused him of raping her? This occurred after an altercation where the driver threatened to go to the police over an unpaid fare. The woman went to the police instead and falsely accused him of rape. “I felt like I’d lost all my rights when I was suddenly arrested. I just wanted to get paid for the trip,” the cab driver said.

Then there was Sherekhan Kali, the cab driver who was falsely accused of rape by Joanne Rye despite the fact that he was nowhere near the scene of the alleged crime at the time of the supposed attack. Nevertheless, he "was arrested at his home and taken to the police station where intimate samples, DNA and fingerprints were taken." After the ordeal was over, Mr Kali was frightened about having women in his cab. But unlike the women-only cab company, he really couldn't refuse under law, could he?

Let's not forget the taxi driver who threatened to take Florence Healy to the police for refusing to pay her fare. Healy, in turn, tried to destroy the driver's life by shouting "rape." Over a €13 taxi fare. She was given a custodial sentence despite her attorney's plea that "his client was a single mother and her child would suffer if she received a custodial sentence."

Oh, and sometimes the false rape accuser is a taxi driver herself, like Mary Jo Stolle, who "provided intense details and helped officials create a precise composite drawing of the man she said [sexually] attacked her, down to a teardrop tattoo on his cheek." The problem is, she made up the whole thing. Turns out she's a serial false accuser and "the details in Stolle's false report mirror those she's made in jurisdictions 'from New York through the Western States.'"

On and on it goes. And those are just some of the recent cases. Still think we need women-only cabs? If these examples aren't enough to make you sit up and question whether this apartheid for women is unnecessary, unfair to men, and a step in precisely the wrong direction for women after all the progress they've made kicking down gender barriers, ask yourself this: how far must society go to placate the members of one group who harbor irrational fears about another? Suppose, for example, that whites insisted on "whites-only" cabs for security reasons -- since we're constantly told that blacks commit more crimes than whites on a per capita basis. What do you imagine would be the reaction to that? Or suppose women wanted to ban Mexican housecleaning personnel from their "women-only" hotel floors -- due to fears that Mexicans supposedly steal more than whites. Wouldn't it be nice to know that "one of them" isn't walking on the floor?

In contrast to the "fairer" sex, men seem not to fear other men or women, despite the overwhelming evidence suggesting they should be wary of both. This women-only cab company is just further evidence that perhaps the day has come when society needs to stop feeding women's irrationalities, and when men finally need to wake up and realize that sometimes the predators wear heels.