Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Shopping centre in infantilising women shocker

I am banging my head against the wall at this story about a shopping centre in China that has created a car park just for women that has bigger spaces. See in the picture on the Telegraph site - it's called Lady Parking. Stunned.

So the idea seems to be that women need bigger parking spaces because they, in the words of an official from the shopping centre that built it, "have a different sense of distance". I suppose I am supposed to be pleased he/she didn't say "inferior sense of distance" but that's the notion behind it, and the story managed to find a "shopper" who used words to that effect.

That's ridiculous in itself - the notion that all women are bad parkers and need bigger spaces. They obviously haven't met my (male) neighbours. Some people are bad parkers and some are good, and it has nothing to do with their gender. I find it such a massive step backwards to continue using tired and lazy stereotypes. There's no evidence to back up their claims, the shopping centre just wanted an attempt at publicity. Employing "female parking attendants" to help women park? Women always bang their car doors when they open them? Stupid! They are saying that all women everywhere cannot park, there's no attempt to say that they are only referring to some women.

But the daft claims that this Lady Parking needed to be in pink and purple annoys me the most. Apparently pink and purple were picked because they are bright colours. What? Orange is a bright colour. Any colour is bright if you paint it right. No, they chose pink and purple because they are associated with girls. So this is a statement not just of women's inability to park but a low, infantilising move to make women look incompetent and childlike.

They could have made this new car park about creating a safe, supervised and well-lit space for women to come to a shopping centre confidently without fear of attack or harrassment. This car park will offer those things, but that seems to be by the by. Why would that have been so difficult?

Alternatively, they could have created a car park that had bigger spaces for ALL their shoppers, and not made it pink, and therefore helped out the male drivers too. But that wouldn't be a pat on the head to little women would it.

The last statment in the article is that there are 200 road deaths every day in China. It seems to me that maybe ALL of the country's drivers need better lessons, not just the women. I'd like to see if the stats for China match those of the UK - that young, male, drivers cause more accidents, not women.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Loughborough campus lighting problem

Here is my draft letter to the Welfare Sabb in the Union (I reckon she's a good first port of call) about the lamentable darkness on campus and lack of university care about safety. They care more about lighting the all-weather sports pitches than paths through academic and residential areas!

I would like to raise the issue of poor street lighting on campus. With the evenings having drawn in, I've noticed that certain areas of campus are extremely badly lit. This makes me rather concerned for my personal safety, even at 4:30pm, for there are regularly used paths that are almost pitch black.

I'm a postgrad and work often in my office in Matthew Arnold building, next to Towers, into the evenings. I often walk to either the Music Centre or John Beckwith building and I find that the walk past Towers is unsafe. This is the worst area I have come across, yet alternative routes past the Bridgeman Centre for instance are almost as bad. Often, the only light available comes from indoors - through the window. It's been especially bad while Towers has been surrounded by fencing for the refurb - all the floodlights on the Towers walls are obscured. The areas I mention do not just contain academic buildings, but are throughways for residential areas, i.e. Butler Court, so it is likely that people use these paths until the early hours.

The main problem is that as a woman I am concerned for my safety and the safety of other women around. However, not only that, but with many cyclists using these paths who more often than not have no lights on their bikes, I am also concerned for anyone walking around who could get knocked over by a cyclist appearing out of the gloom, or someone could trip over uneven paving slabs.

I am quite dismayed that the lighting afforded for the sports pitches in East Park is dazzling, while pedestrian areas are in darkness. Personal safety should be a greater concern to the University than providing late night light to sports teams. I don't visit other parts of campus in the evenings so I'm not aware if this is a campus-wide problem.

I expect I sound like a moaning old local resident type writing to their local paper! But I think this is a very important issue and wondered whether it could be raised with the University?