A taxi driver has shared a glimpse of insight into the threatening situations women find themselves in everyday, and has a message for other men who don’t understand the meaning of the word no.
Gender equality will only ever be achieved if we not only have the support of men, but the awareness and understanding of how they can be part of the change, and better allies to women.
Which is why it’s so important to not only highlight the stories which show how far we have to go, but also the messages which help teach men how they can help, using the example of those who already are.
One such example gained a lot of attention on Facebook recently, when taxi driver Brandon Gale from Chicago, USA, shared a story to show how important it is for men to be aware of just how often women can feel threatened and why they need to be attuned to how they can help.
Setting the scene in a post on the social media platform, Gale explained that while working for Uber recently he had accepted a booking from a woman, who then messaged him through the app asking if he would pretend to be her boyfriend when he arrived.
Initially confused, Gale responded to ask what she meant, to which she replied “I just need you to act like you know me, and that you’re not my Uber driver.” Understanding that something clearly wasn’t right, Gale went above and beyond, removing the Uber stickers from the outside of his car and “making a mental note” to keep his wedding ring “out of eyesight.”
When he arrived at the pick up point he saw the woman who had confirmed the booking stood talking to a man, and upon seeing the car arrive she shouted to Gale, “Hi, Babe! I’ll be right there!” Happy to go along with the situation, he shouted back “Awesome, because I’m starving” before waving at the guy next to her.
Gale explains how after she got into his car, the woman told him a story that many of us will be familiar with, of receiving unwanted attention and being trapped in a situation that felt threatening. “Once we got out of the guy’s sight, she told me the rest of her story. She went to the fair with a bunch of friends. In that group of friends was a guy that was very forward with her and wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Gale writes.
“He also had a history of being very aggressive. She thought that she could leave him behind by heading to her car, but he followed her, claiming to be a gentleman. Before they got to her car, she claimed to have lost her keys. He offered to give her a ride, and that’s when she decided to call her ‘boyfriend’.”
Depressingly, this situation and the stomach-dropping feeling that goes with it, of trying to understand the level of threat to yourself and keeping a cool, calm head to maneuver yourself out of it, is one that almost every woman will know.
We know we shouldn’t have to do this. We know how unfair it is. But as well as saying it ourselves, it’s vitally important that men stand with us and say it too. Which is what makes Gale’s post so important. Continuing, he writes: “This should never have had to happen. Men, learn to accept the word ‘no’ as a response. Learn to take responsibility for your actions.”
Then addressing other men, Gale highlights the importance of educating the next generation of boys to be feminists, writing: “Our sons are watching you and they’re learning how to treat the women in their lives by example. Lead by a better one.”
Before finishing his post, he also makes the point that app-driven taxi services often have a messaging platform and that women should always feel like they can use them to communicate if they need special help: “Ladies, if you have the Uber or Lyft app, and you need an exit strategy, use the messaging system within the app. You can make special requests that could possibly save your life.”
Although there are lots of negative aspects to this story, the one encouraging thing is to see a man attempt to educate others on the importance of understanding that women go through this kind of thing everyday, and the need to be switched on enough to be an ally.
The more men who share these kinds of stories, then the more feminists we can count on helping towards the end goal of achieving equality. And that, at least, is something worth shouting about.