All Aboard – Gender Segregation On Trains

Jeremy Corbyn, of whom I am a definite fan, has raised the idea of introducing women-only carriages on British trains in a bid to prevent sexual harassment.

Having spent a year working in London, I am not completely unfamiliar with uncomfortable commuting experiences. That moment when someone ‘accidentally’, yet repeatedly, brushes their groin up against you, a misplaced hand during a crowded carriage ride, and the usual cat calling all played a part in my otherwise wonderful time in the Big Smoke.

I was lucky – although uncomfortable, nothing particularly terrible happened to me. However, this isn’t the case for hundreds of women around the world. The rise of sexual offences on trains is well-documented, with British Transport Police having announced a 34.7% increase in reported on London’s public transport network in 2014/15 compared to the previous year.

These statistics make women-only spaces an incredibly compelling idea. What woman wouldn’t enjoy a bit of time off from worrying about her personal space being invaded, or her bodily autonomy threatened?

Reality check: this isn’t the solution to sexual harassment. In fact, this might make the situation worse, excusing society from confronting the wider issues behind sexual harassment and violence.

I get it; in the short term, it seems a perfect solution to a growing and scary societal issue. However, this sort of move would be like trying to repair an aneurysm with a Peppa Pig plaster. If we want to put an end to sexual harassment, we need to treat the cause, and not just the symptoms.

A few of the issues that aren’t sitting right with me are listed below.

  1. Women and non-binary people need to be able to occupy public spaces, including public transport, in the same way that men currently do. Public spaces need to be welcoming to all genders. After all, if we’re really devolving to a gender-segregated world, why stop at trains? Street harassment is rife within our cities and towns – should we have women-only avenues? We need to reclaim these spaces, instead of being pushed out of them. This means tackling our societal systems as they currently stand, ensuring that education challenges the entrenched cultural attitudes about blame, shame, sex, gender and power from an early age.
  1. This type of policy proliferates the ‘Protective Patriarchy’ – the patronising insistence that women need to be protected, shielded from the realities of society, instead of challenging and standing in solidarity against them. This notion maintains that the only way to protect women is to place them under the authority of men, for, as we are told, only men can protect women from other men.
  1. Trans inclusivity is a must. ‘Women Only’ spaces which exclude trans women are NOT WOMEN ONLY. Cis women (women whose gender align with their sex) are heard more than anybody in feminist spaces, and trans women are continually silenced. Trans women are disproportionately affected by harassment and violence (motivated by hateful attitudes towards gender identity), and yet there is a serious gap in ensuring safe spaces when it comes to people who live at the intersection of being both trans and a woman.
  1. Such policies place victims of harassment at risk of ‘blame culture’ – even more so than usual. Like other forms of violence prevention that put the onus on women to keep themselves safe, women-only transportation facilitates the problem of victim blaming – “If she didn’t want to be harassed, then why didn’t she use the women’s only carriage?” It is not the job of the victim to police their own behaviour. It is not the job of the victim to police their own behaviour. Shall I say it again? It is not the job of the victim to police their own behaviour.

Women’s rights are human rights, and we must shift the blame from women who suffer sexualised violence to those who inflict it, ignore it and even deny it. So, Corbyn, thanks for thinking of us, but we’ll take fighting the root of the problem above a quick-fix any day. 

What they really mean when they say they’re not a feminist

I recently read this article on Everyday Feminism, and thought it was too good not to share.

Drawn by Ronnie Rene Ritchie, a contributing comic artist for Everyday Feminism, the cartoon encourages us to have more respect for the wide ranges of ways and reasons we stand up to oppression.


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How to Make New Year’s Resolutions Which Don’t Completely Suck


In 2015, I will be spending more time with my family (whilst also making new friends and expanding my social circle), rekindling my passion for an old hobby (and trying my hand at something new), shifting that extra half a stone and not giving into any unhealthy temptations whatsoever.

Yeah, right.

To be honest, I was never a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. 

The idea of waiting until an arbitrary date to make positive changes to your life seemed like a stalling tactic for the lazy; after all, why wait till January 1st to take action? If you want to change something, you don’t need an excuse to do so. Add to this the fact that, statistically, only a tiny fraction of us keep our resolutions; in fact, research suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals, and you have to ask ‘what’s the point?’.

And yet a whopping 26.5 million people in the UK – over half of adults – will make a New Year’s Resolution in 2015. If this is the case, and if the true definition of madness is ‘repeating the same action, over and over, hoping for a different result’, then this year we have to mix it up a little if we’re going to achieve our goals.

So, how do you make New Year’s Resolutions which don’t completely suck? 


Trust in SCIENCE!

To stick to a New Year’s Resolution, you need a big dose of willpower. The brain cells that are responsible for this are located in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area right behind your forehead. Go on, touch your head.

This pre-frontal cortex is like a muscle that needs to be trained properly before undertaking something so big as a New Year’s Resolution;  expecting it to gladly quit smoking, stop craving sugar or want to go to the gym on January 1st the equivalent of a 300 pound barbell you want to lift without any previous training. Not a realistic goal, right?

So if you’ve got that ‘one big goal’ for New Year’s, make sure you start training your brain in advance. Want to quit smoking? Start cutting down your daily number of cigarettes a few months in advance. Want to lose weight and cut out all those unhealthy foods for the New Year? Make sure you’re adjusting your eating habits well in advance of January 1st.

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‘He Looks A Bit UKIP’

Thank you to my lovely friend Alex Hall for sending me this.


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Podiums and Pedestals – A Guest Post By Lou Steaton

Today’s guest blogger, Lou Steaton, is a popular and talented DJ working in the city of Bath. She’s also a fantastic graphic designer, who works with bands creating advertising, merchandise and CD artwork. 

Lou will be penning another article for Project Soapbox in a couple of weeks, so keep an eye out! 

You can follow Lou on Twitter, or check out her graphic design work here

– Cerian Jenkins, Project Soapbox

“If you worked for me, I’d put you on a podium”

This is just one of the things a man told me in snatched conversation between my mixes at work. He claimed to be affiliated with one of the most famous clubs in the country (which I shan’t name), and was basically trying to tell me I was better than the club I was playing. Except he wasn’t. “If you worked for me, I’d put you on a podium,” he purred. “You’re a good-looking girl. Everyone would want to see you.” He praised my skills, but every compliment was soured with insinuations that my crowd-pulling power would be based on looks first, talent second. He volunteered Lisa Lashes as a DJ he’s worked with. Lashes is certainly a household name, with good reason – she’s the first and only woman to be listed in the top ten DJs by DJ Magazine – as well as being stylish and beautiful. Do I have a problem with that? Of course not. What I do have a problem with is with the marketing of female DJs in general – all too often presented as eye-candy instead of ear-candy. This in itself has propagate a culture of models-turned-DJs, for whom a history of Playboy modelling is considered a valid musical credential (or so I gather from so many female DJ roster bios).

As my chat with the promoter that night progressed, his view of me became increasingly clear. Instead of a  DJ with a well-honed skill set and a varied taste in music, I was a product. He assured me, in essence, that people would come for my face and stay for the music. My knee-jerk reaction was to reject this immediately. If being a woman in a competitive and largely male-dominated field has taught me anything, it’s that skills come first: I have to be on-point, 100% of the time. The smallest slip-up is all too quickly seized as a ‘girl DJ mistake’. Fucked up a beat-match? Girl DJ. Got your levels a bit wrong? Girl DJ. They’re errors we all make, and I’ve seen the best fall foul of them. One career-affirming moment for me was seeing Zane Lowe battling with a faulty CDJ. Was I annoyed or disappointed? Did I scoff? Nope, instead I was filled with a sense of camaraderie, this was a feeling I had known all too well. However, when my equipment failed me, I was booed, whereas Zane’s crowd laughed and cheered. Admittedly I know Zane’s in a whole different league to me, but I have to wonder what my crowd’s reaction would have been, had I been a man.


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V, the Mockingjay and Father Ted: Popular culture and modern protest – A Guest Post by Rhiannon Tate

I’m excited to introduce our guest blogger for this week; Rhiannon Tate. A filmmaker and writer, Rhiannon describes herself as someone who gets too emotionally invested in television shows. Sometimes she likes to go surfing and cliff jumping, but in reality she spends most of her time indoors, and is particularly interested in issues concerning gender equality, the environment, and representation, both in politics and on screen. You can follow Rhiannon on Twitter @mightyriot.

– Cerian Jenkins, Project Soapbox


It’s an image that has become synonymous with protest in recent years; the V mask. In this fight against an oppressive regime, the central character in Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta dons the face of Guy Fawkes: partly for anonymity, but also to remind his fellow citizens that throughout history, people have defied the ruling classes. Now, it serves as the face of the Anonymous movement, and is popularly used by groups like Occupy, and by individuals at anti-inequality marches. An image borne out of pop culture has become a symbol for real life resistance, and it’s not the only one.

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