How about…let’s teach men not to rape, OK?

So today I fell victim to the curse of public transport known as the Angry Bus Driver.

I don’t know what it is about bus drivers.  I’ve never been one, so I perhaps they just have an incredibly stressful job (who doesn’t?) and don’t get paid enough (who does?) but many of them seem to be ANGRY.  Angry at passing motorists, angry at their passengers, angry at life.

Today’s bus driver was all of the above.

There was I, innocently standing at the bus stop, getting on the bus and all of a sudden it was “LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF YEAH?  THINK FOR YOURSELF!  PUT YOUR HAND OUT!  I VERY NEARLY DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO STOP!”

“OK, OK…sorry.”

He was still carrying on moaning at me even after I thought he had finished his complaint and retired to the back of the bus, trying not to roll my eyes in a too-obvious Kate Middleton in America wrapping presents, kind of way.

“OK, sorry again.”

“That’s all right darling!” he called out from the front of the bus, as though all he had been looking for was a grovelling apology from me that I had had the BRAZEN AUDACITY to assume that some of the other fifty million people on the bus stop were about to catch the same bus and that the bus might, like, stop or something, rather than ignore all potential passengers as a matter of trying to prove some ridiculous point that we were all lazy benefit scrounging parasites who had the sheer unbridled cheek to stand at a bus stop in the middle of the day and think that it might stop, and that it might be embarrassing, not to mention something of a road hog, if all fifty million people decided to leap in front of the bus eagerly, arms outstretched, at the same time (you know what I’m talking about, people don’t you?  It’s either “ALL RIGHT THERE’S NO NEED FOR ALL OF YOU TO PUT YOUR HANDS OUT AT THE SAME TIME I’M GOING TO STOP OK?  OK????” or “YOU ARE ALL A BUNCH OF PEASANTS WHO NEED TO PUT YOUR HANDS OUT IF YOU THINK I WILL STOP THIS BUS!!!”)

Anyway, as I seethed with rage quietly at the back of the bus, thinking that this had blatantly happened because I was a woman, and what was this joker doing calling me  “darling” anyway, as though I was some sort of family pet, and I am 35 years old and a woman and I AM NOT GOING TO BE PATRONISED DAMMIT, the driver continued venting his rage at anyone who crossed his path.  An old man with a stick ( a STICK, I tell you, he was actually mobility impaired) who should “MIND THE DOORS!  Don’t get stuck in those doors.  You might DIE!”

By the time we were half a mile up the road the driver was taking on a long line of random motorists who dared cross his path (“I’VE GOT A JOB TO DO, YOU KNOW!  What am I supposed to do; PARK UP AND WAIT FOR YOU?”) and then aiming his enormous bus at them and forcing them to reverse back up the road.

Now, as I haven’t driven a car since since I failed my driving test in 2005, I’m no expert in The Rules of the Road, but I’m pretty sure he was breaking most of them.

Eventually, I got off the bus, mentally preparing myself for another tirade about how I shouldn’t have got up until the bus stopped, and I could go flying through the windscreen, you know.  Or I should have got up before the bus stopped, and I very nearly missed my stop, you know.  I wasn’t sure how to play it.  Anyway, I got off the bus, only for the driver to apologise for ranting at me, and to then say that the only reason he did it was because he is concerned about females late at night.

Late at night.  It was two O’clock in the afternoon and broad daylight.

I looked at him, deadpan.  “It’s the middle of the day.”

Ah yes, but one day I might fail to put my hand out when waiting for a bus in the middle of the night and the bus won’t stop and he once heard from a friend of a friend of a friend about someone this happened to who ended up being raped.

“Right,” I replied.  “I am an adult.  I am capable of looking after myself.  And if you are so concerned about females alone at night, why don’t you tell men not to go around raping them?”

The two elderly women who were about to get on the bus and who had only heard the tail end of that conversation looked utterly aghast.

I walked home feeling almost as angry as the bus driver.  Not quite, as I didn’t want to end up in an early grave due to the sheer exhaustion of being so angry all the time, but why is it that it is my responsibility (and that of all women) to avoid being raped?  I grew up being told by friends, family and everyone in between that I should never walk home alone at night, and that certain areas, due to the mere fact that they were dark and had few buildings, were basically no-go areas at night, just because I was female and MIGHT GET RAPED.  Where were the reminders to all the men that they shouldn’t be doing the raping?

NOWHERE.

Now I’m not advocating getting roaring drunk and going stumbling about alone forgetting all semblance of common sense, but I think that is important advice for members of both sexes, no? And, more importantly, lack of common sense is not an invitation or excuse to rape.

So, Angry Bus Driver, I will be ignoring your advice about waiting for buses (shock, horror) in the hours of darkness, but I will be teaching my son that it is HIS responsibility not to go around raping people (I hope that we will not reach a point where I actually have to spell this out to him in very literal terms, as hopefully basic respect for all people will follow naturally from the upbringing I give him, right people?  This will be OK, right?)

I will put my hand out next time though.  Just in case it’s Angry Bus Driver again.

37 Comments Add yours

  1. I nodded so much reading this post that I thought my head would fall off! Oh my god, this is SO spot on – next time I see someone saying something like that, I am pointing them in the direction of this post!
    #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Thank you. I have been getting militant recently. Today I actually challenged a religious nut in the centre of town who was claiming that secular societies end up killing babies. I am on a roll!

  2. I think that bus driver needs to remember the passengers are paying customers! That aside, I agree with you. Of course we should be teaching boys about consent. There is far too much victim blaming in today’s world. Having said that, unfortunately, the sad fact of the matter is that we do need to protect ourselves against being raped. We should be able to walk alone at night etc but sadly we can’t and we need to educate girls about that too. Fantastic post 🙂 #KCACOLS
    Debbie

    1. Min says:

      Thanks, I’m afraid I don’t agree though. One of the other things that the idea we shouldn’t walk alone at night implies is that rape is a crime committed by a stranger who ambushes lone women late at night. Although of course there are some rapes that fit that stereotype, they aren’t the majority. You’re much more likely to be attacked by someone you know, and because of this idea of the stranger in the dark alley, rape victims who are attacked by husbands, partners, or others that they know are often not believed, and many people see rapists as “other,” rather than, unfortunately, people who walk among us. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t encourage people to take care of themselves at night, just that it’s unfair that this burden of responsibility lies upon women. Actually it’s men who are more likely to be attacked on a night out so perhaps it’s them we should be warning.

  3. Charlotte says:

    firstly your ranting is hilarious and I love it – the bus driver sounds like an idiot – and secondly I totally agree, we grew up in a generation where women were told it’s our responsibility to avoid getting raped and it’s only now (and even then not a lot) that people are realising that perhaps if rapists were taught not to rape then we women wouldn’t have to be “careful” at 5pm in the winter because there is no longer natural light and therefore it’s rape o’clock! rant over.. but i do agree, and thanks for writing about it! #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Thank you. Thank you for reading!

  4. It’s just ridiculous, isn’t it? I saw a great meme on this a while ago which said something like men should be offended by the ‘you shouldn’t do x, you might get raped’ line because apparently they’re just animals who are incapable of controlling themselves in darkness, after having a drink, when a woman wears a skirt above her knee, etc, etc. My other fave line on it comes from Bo Burnham, in his from the perspective of God song – ‘you shouldn’t abstain from rape just ‘cos you think I want you to; you shouldn’t rape because rape is a f****d up thing to do… didn’t think I’d have to write that one down for you’ 🙂 (I also realise that I’m very lucky with bus drivers – all the local ones seem to love their jobs with an almost worrying passion!) #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      I completely agree-the whole thing is offensive to men as well, implying that they cannot control themselves.

  5. Markus says:

    Angry people can be very wearing, especially angry bus drivers or angry cabbies can be just as bad! But yes it is not on the woman to make it less likely to be raped! Consent is given, never implied, assumed or anything like that! Have you seen the video ad where consent is compared to a cup of tea? #KCACOLS
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oQbei5JGiT8

    1. Min says:

      Absolutely! And yes, I have seen the consent video-it’s amazing isn’t it? So true!

  6. ERFmama says:

    It is so odd isn’t it! I have come across the same things on the bus, and it is a little odd isn’t it… I’ve never been a bus driver either, I wonder if it’s the job it self that makes so many angry? Not a very good selling point for a job! hehe

    #effitfriday

    1. Min says:

      Yes, they do seem to be a particularly abrasive bunch!

  7. wendy says:

    That bus driver sounds horrible, he has a funny old way of looking out for women..sounds like he needs anger management counselling. As for the comments on rape, I totally agree. We should be teaching boys/men that rape is just not ever ok. Us women should be able to feel safe when out at night, not worried about being assaulted because that’s what we have been told will happen if we go out alone, walk in the dark, wear sexy clothes and all the other stuff we are warned about. Interesting read x #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Thanks. Yes it was totally bizarre, and came out of nowhere. I wonder if he would have said the same thing to the car drivers and the old man that he also had a go at. “Look at you, driving your car around like that. I’m only telling you this because you could YOUR CAR MIGHT GET HIT BY SOME OTHER DRIVER THROUGH NO FAULT OF YOU OWN!”

  8. I *applaud* this is a very valid and brilliant post. xx #KCACOLS

  9. Wow that bus driver sounded like a right nutter! You are very right of course – it is not just women who should be told to not to do certain things to avoid being raped. It does seem so much easier to point the finger to females “don’t dress or act that way” etc etc.

    Thank you so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday! x

    1. Min says:

      Thanks! He was definitely in a belligerent mood. x

  10. Wow! The bus driver is just plain crazy! I wonder if the actual driving bus all day made him crazy. Such a long and lonely job. Sure you can interact with customers but it is really not your business what the customer do or does. It is great that the driver is looking out for customers but really – I think his customer service skills need to be re-trained. What a douchebag! Thanks for linking up with me. Fab Post! #FabFridayPost x

  11. Silly Mummy says:

    Bus driver clearly a nut job! I do have a slightly different perspective on the reason that women are given the warnings, though (not warnings like his – that was totally crazy – but the general idea of women being careful, rather than telling the men not to do it). I agree entirely that in any consideration of principles & morality it is wrong. Obviously it should not be the responsibility of women to prevent themselves from being raped. It used to make me angry that this was the stance too. But then, due to the job I used to do, I learnt about sex offenders and motvating factors to rape. I now get that, from a practical point of view, this is because you CAN teach girls and women to try to avoid risky situations. Whereas the mentality and motivations that make a rapist are very complex, and telling boys and men not to do it will not have any impact on the ones who are going to do it. Obviously there are certain much more complex childhood experiences that may lead a man down that route, and could be prevented, but that is not the stuff of a simple lesson or instruction to boys. The idea that teaching boys not to do it, or to respect women, would work is actually quite flawed. Because those beliefs that women deserve to be raped, negative attitudes about women, etc, are actually not strong motivating factors for rape. Negative attitudes to women are rarely enough to make a man risk prison and rape someone. Rape is more commonly a complex mix of issues with power and control, and sometimes sexual deviancy, that are heavily ingrained in the person’s character. So, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, it is easier to protect women by teaching them to avoid risky situations (thought they should not have to), than to be able to identify or have any impact on those men who would do it. What I would say about these warnings, though, is that they do tend to over emphasise the least likely form of rape, which is a stranger attack. Most women are raped by men they know & trust. In that sense, it is a similar distortion to the stranger danger thing with kids, who are also most likely to be harmed by people they know.

    Think this is a great post though, and the bus driver clearly had some issues. Totally agree with you being angry with him, and understand why people get irritated by this approach – just thought I’d add a bit of a counterpoint! #babybrainmonday

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for this. You’ve raised some really interesting points here that I hadn’t considered. I’m not an expert, but I can’t help thinking though, that if we lived in a more equal society there would be fewer instances of sexual violence in general.

  12. Habiba says:

    So. Brilliantly. Put! Also… I noticed you also live in Wembley. Is this something to do with Wembley bus drivers? Because I have never encountered a pleasant one, I swear (apologies to any nice bus drivers reading this). #babybrainmonday

    1. Min says:

      Alas, I have now moved away from Ol’ Wembers. I now live in Bristol, in The Provinces, where they haven’t caught on with the whole Oyster card thing and you have to interact with the driver and hand over actual money (usually about £20 for a short journey). Bad times.

  13. Oh my! You definitely got a crazy bus driver that day, didn’t you?!
    I laughed out loud at this part: “trying not to roll my eyes in a too-obvious Kate Middleton in America wrapping presents, kind of way.” Could totally picture that!
    As for the rest, well it seems so flipping obvious, doesn’t it? Feels a bit ridiculous that we have to say it out loud: don’t rape!
    #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      I certainly did. I’m glad you got the Kate Middleton reference. I wondered if that was a bit too specific!

  14. Re the serious part about raping; spot on. Fantastically put! Such a tragedy that it’s up to us to make sure we don’t get raped. What kind of a world do we live in?

    And the bits about 2 in the afternoon and broad daylight…and the two old women…and exhaustion from being angry all the time. Eff me I LAUGHED I tell you!

    Thanks for linking up to #BabyBrainMonday love. Always such a pleasure to have you.

  15. I truly think that most rapists are born with a bad gene. Just like child molesters, serial killers, and all the other horrible people that can be put into those categories. But in the same aspect we also can’t home around being afraid to go anywhere after dark or for that matter, in broad daylight even. I am visiting from #BabyBrainMonday. 💋Trista

    1. Min says:

      Ooh, I don’t like the idea of a bad gene. Bad combination of genes and circumstances, I think. But then I worry a lot about genetic traits, given that 50% of Piglet’s genes are an unknown quantity!

  16. See while I don’t think it is solely my responsibility to make sure I don’t get raped, I do think it is important for me to take responsibility for my own safety and to not put myself in any dangerous situation. But I think that is the responsibility of everyone, man or woman.

    1. Min says:

      I agree. I certainly didn’t mean we should all start putting ourselves in dangerous situations.

  17. Hi Min,

    This is a great read…not only because I’m laughing and imagining what a angry old tosspot that driver was, but because I’m now thinking about all the times I’ve thought about how friends, sisters etc are unsafe walking home late alone, or regretted my own drunken stumbles home alone at silly o’clock to save the £3 taxi fare. (In days of old, OBVIOUSLY). You are right though, why does the onus always have to be on the ‘victim’ to avoid ‘rapey’ situations? I probably will always drive my girls everywhere though, just in case they are as daft as I was as a teenager…x so, a slightly hypocritical reply! #coolmumclub

    1. Min says:

      I want to drive Piglet everywhere too. Noting wrong with wanting our children to be safe. Only problem is, I can’t drive.

      1. Min says:

        I meant “nothing wrong,” argh!

  18. Alex Fihema says:

    I do agree with what you’ve said even though I’m a bus driver.
    One thing a bus driver is thought is to drive safely and to be aware of the road conditions. We have to be curtious and pleasant. We are meant to give advise not rant or have a go. Everyone makes mistakes or gets distracted.
    Rape shouldn’t happen. I believe that anyone who willingly rapes should be chemically castrated (sorry if that is a strong opinion). I have felt this way before I had children and with five girls even more now.
    Nurture is very important in this case because I do believe that a lot of cases could be avoided if more parents did what you do.

    1. Min says:

      I agree that nurture is key. I think it’s down to families, but also wider society to make it clear to everyone that rape is unacceptable. Thanks for your comment!

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