Every few months, I see a story in the news about an Uber driver assaulting a passenger. Each time, the comments are filled with people blaming the victim for getting into his car. Uber is held less liable in the court of public opinion than the passengers they endangered.
I take ride shares fairly often. Though my preference is for Lyft which makes fewer bad headlines, most drivers work for both companies so I recognize the risk isn’t really reduced. There are a lot of reasons I use these cab alternatives, and those reasons are ignored by victim blamers.
Cabs are twice as expensive and less reliable, and cab drivers have assaulted passengers too. Buses only run along their pre-set loops; the closest stop is a mile away and goes the wrong direction. And it’s not like assault and sexual harassment never occur on public transportation.
The most suggested option is also the most expensive: get a car. Even though the insurance alone on a car would equal my current monthly transportation costs well before budgeting for car payments and gas. And maintenance? Ha! If I had a car, my low income just means I could watch it decay before my eyes.
What’s more, I am not a confident driver. I am prone to distraction and the effort of focusing solely on driving exhausts me. Despite my physical disabilities, I find short walks less taxing than drives of the same distance. I have a driver’s license but prefer not to use it. Other people don’t have driving as an option. Whether by poverty or disability (ie, epilepsy), or even because they lost their license, everyone deserves to get home safely.
Tasking women with the job of keeping ourselves safe would be flippant regardless, but in a country where 98% of rapists never spend a day in jail for their crime, where victims are doubted by law enforcement and blamed by district attorneys, where rape kits collect dust while serial rapists rack up victims, it is nothing short of cruel.
Give us the power to protect ourselves and we will. Give us the means to stay independent and we will. Give us the safety to move through the world and we will. Give us the freedom to be in public without being targets and we will. Until then, we’re going to keep taking calculated risks to live in this decidedly unsafe world. We will.