How many times have you climbed into your Uber or Lyft ride and found a woman behind the wheel? Probably not that many. Now, France is doing something about it. Thanks to a new company, Paris has a women-only taxi service to help not only counterbalance the number of men in the industry, but also to provide a safe and comfortable way for women to get from point A to point B.
The scales truly are tipped in men's favor. While women make up more than half of taxi passengers, estimates put the number of ladies behind the wheel of Uber rides at just 14 percent. In the UK, the number of women taxi drivers drops to just two percent.
Women Drive is trying to make a difference. According to their website, they are the first of their kind — a company by women, for women (although there are similar services in other parts of the world, like New York City, Australia, and London). Their drivers are available at all times, and provide transportation "without prying eyes or indelicate questions." They promise that their passengers will be listened to and respected. Founder Sarra Boubchir told Le Figaro the Women Drive aims "to prove that transporting people is not a job reserved for men, and that women have the right to be transported in complete peace."
Women Drive did what any smart business does: it found a problem and then found a solution; but is this really a solution, or is it simply masking the bigger problem at hand — that women still need to find ways around uncomfortable situations with men, instead of society doing things to eliminate the uncomfortable situations completely? It's an oft-debated question — one that arises when we talk about wearing hairy leggings to keep men away, using anti-rape undergarments to deter would-be assailants, and the various forms of self-defense women employ to feel safer walking the streets. We keep finding ways to cover up or avoid the problem, because solving the problem entirely has proved to be an uphill battle. Heck, according to Women Drive, they're here for women partly because it's hard even to get in the back seat of a car without being stared down by a man — something bound to make any person seriously uncomfortable.
Women-only services are here to help; and there's obviously (sadly) a need for them. We must not stop acknowledging, however, the lingering mentality that harassment and inappropriate behavior are OK. It's this same mentality that holds women responsible for their own harassment or assaults because of what they were wearing or because they were walking alone at night or because they were drinking.
It's this same mentality that justifies harassment with a "boys will be boys" shrug of the shoulders, since men are just "wired differently." Women should be able to get into any taxi and not feel threatened physically or emotionally. While it's always good to have back-up options like women-only services, until women can do things with the same security as men, we still have work to do.