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Malta’s star reporter, Karl Stennienibarra, has done it again. My thoughts follow the satirical piece which is being reproduced in full below:

‘eCabs has announced it will give men the option to choose a taxi driver who will lend a sympathetic ear to their privileged whining.

The cab company will introduce the ‘Whine+’ feature, which will be rolled out next week, following widespread outrage among men at its decision to give women the option to choose a female driver.

“We want to cater to everyone, including men who disregard the lived experiences of women and complain they’re being discriminated against by a feature that does not affect them in any way whatsoever,” said eCabs CEO Andrew Bezzina.

Bezzina said the company was training a number of its drivers to nod, smile and express agreement with male customers who were angry at the idea of women wanting to reduce the risk of being harassed, or worse.

The drivers will also learn prompts in response to phrases such as ‘So much for gender equality!’; ‘Does this mean women assume I’m a rapist?’ and ‘What if it’s a male driver who identifies as a woman?’

“Above all, drivers must make these men feel like they’re in a safe space where everything is all about them. Under no circumstances are they allowed to call the passenger a whiny little bitch, even though that’s what they are.”

The Whine+ cabs will also include a box of tissues in case they want to have a little cry, a packet of sweets and a photo of Jordan Peterson.’


Before you even ask, let me just go ahead and point out that the reason why I’m using an anti-corruption website to write a column about gender inequality is because none of us are free until all of us are free. When there is a lack of equity in whatever shape, way, or form, it is a reflection of a society that is not just materially but also morally corrupt.

The fact is that, for an ungodly amount of time, women across the world have had to put up with a vast assortment of bullshit from men. Maltese society is especially guilty of this because we have the unfortunate Southern Mediterranean affliction of being overly-dependent on motherhood, to the point where men must always either have a mother or a wife at their beck and call or otherwise perish in a pile of unwashed underwear and filthy dishes.

Men told women what they could eat, what they could drink, what they could dress, what they could do, what they could say and how they should say it, who they can or cannot speak to, whether they can vote or run for office or even hold down any kind of professional employment.

Fast forward to today, after centuries of sacrifices from women who paid the ultimate price of freedom and life for the sake of posterity’s right to enjoy a better future. Now, while we are certainly far off from a reality in which misogyny and gender inequality have been eradicated, it is clear that women are no longer beholden to the interests of men simply because men said so. While some men and women do still opt for the traditional nuclear family model, the idea that such a model is the de facto way of doing things is clearly dead in the water.

A positive development which I’ve seen occur locally is that more and more spaces are being created for women, by women. I’ve had the good fortune of knowing quite a few women who are active in these spaces, which will also have plenty of other events in which someone like me – a cishet man who has obviously never had to experience what it’s like to be a woman – can learn a lot by simply attending and listening to what others have to say. You learn more when you engage and ask questions, but sometimes, it is good to just take in others’ experiences and understand them.

One such positive development was a taxi company’s decision to create a dedicated cab service that will be operated by women drivers for women passengers only. While one may easily argue that the timing of the announcement of the cab company’s new service is a cynical women’s day cash grab, the fact remains that it is a necessary service that has clearly received a positive response from its target demographic. So, what’s the issue?

Enter the Jordan Petersons of the world.

As detailed in Stennienibarra’s middle finger zinger, pretentious backlash ensued against said cab company after the initiative was launched. They received the typical harassment reserved for far-right targets, with plenty of jibes about their “wokeness” and plenty of arguments pinning societal collapse onto women who, in this very specific case, do not wish to spend the ride home wondering whether the creep ogling them through the rear view mirror is about to do something extremely unpleasant.

Because let’s face it, gents: for every one of us out there who tries their hardest to be decent and respectful, there’s ten other morons doing something stupid right now as I write this column. And while one can argue all day about how men are conditioned to be violent, emotionally unavailable, and constantly driven by material wealth, power, and sex, the fact is that we can always choose to break away from that conditioning. The fact is that many of us seem to choose to behave like savages instead of acknowledging that vulnerability, tenderness, and empathy are a vital part of everyone’s emotional spectrum.

It doesn’t matter whether you are nice or not – you can be the most affable bloke in the world and that still wouldn’t eliminate the fact that there are monsters out there who will prey on women simply because they are women and are, in their minds, inferior. The fact is that there are men who, in line with consistently disastrous patterns in their relationship behaviour and evident ego issues, project their own failures and insecurities onto the rest of the world and make it their life’s mission to do so at every opportunity.

The testosterone fueled furor surrounding the women+ initiative is an example of not just why these initiatives are necessary but also an example of what women are fighting against when they celebrate occasions like international women’s day. Bis-Serjeta’s article is an example of what other men should be doing whenever they encounter toxic masculinity: call it out for what it is and relentlessly mock those who are genuinely full of themselves enough to believe that a whole other gender is inferior to them.

To state that you have an issue with women excluding men from shared public spaces which need to be used by everyone would be reasonable, for it would be a case in which we would be effectively imposing the same shackles that were so consistently imposed on women throughout history onto men instead. But to state that you have an issue with women excluding men from a space that is created by women, for women as a shelter from their otherwise unsettling surroundings is not just unreasonable. It is downright toxic.

Specifically, it is toxic to perceive women reclaiming their own spaces after literal centuries of oppression as a threat to oneself, in the same way it is toxic to build one’s entire personality around cheap ‘shock and awe’ statements that mask a great deal of anxiety and fear. Those two things go hand in hand for a reason, and if you don’t see it, it might be time to take a good, long, hard look at yourself until you do. Don’t let grifters like Jordan Peterson monetise your desire for comforting non-answers to your burning questions.

I, for one, remain hopeful that today’s teenagers and early adults, who are so open to the world around them and are the first generation to truly know what it is like to be born with all the world’s knowledge at their disposal, will continue to forge ahead in their quest to shape up the world into a fairer, better place in which none of us, irrespective of who we identify as or who we love, ought to ever feel afraid of one another ever again.

For that world to come to life, there is much to be done. Women-only spaces are just the beginning.

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