Ladies’ space before gentlemens’ space

True gender equality is due to arrive any day now—but then so too is Jesus and green fuel for cars. Let’s face it, the world we live in is gendered. And as it is in labour relations, so it is too, in the world we have built: two doors can be made of the same wood, but if one leads to urinals and the other only to toilet bowls, the former will be one we would happily call masculine, and the later one that we would say, is in some sense, a girl.

The video in the previous post, leaves little doubt as to the gendering of roads and pedestrian/bike paths in the New Towns of postwar Britain. Returning from war, meant returning to a good life, where men would use roadways to get to work, and women would push babies in prams, along parallel networks of paths. Now if only the chivalry of the times applied to interactions between roads and paths! In all other dealings, it was “ladies before gentlemen”. Such was not the case though, when networks for women, met networks for men. Every time, it was the feminine network that was forced to go around, go under, press a button and wait, or by whatever means, yield.

Redway underpass at Milton Keynes
Dismiss this line of inquiry as highfalutin, esoteric, French poststructuralist codswallop, if you feel you must. However, I see a line of attack here. Rhetoric about building cities for people, not cars, meets the counterclaim, that people drive cars. However, pointing out that a transport network designed for men, forced one built for women into treacherous box-culvert underpasses, haunted by rapists and muggers, might actually raise some peoples’ ire.

So let’s emphasize how women outnumber men on well used bike paths in Denmark and Holland, shamelessly say bike paths are feminine, then name as sexist, and unchivalrous, any intersection that forces bikes to yield, rather than cars. An argument has to be made, that roads stop for greenways, not visa versa, and one appealing to the sacred cow of fairness to anything feminine, may just be heard.

2 Comments

  1. kfg says:

    Green fuel for cars; and trains; and ships, arrived 250 years ago right along with these things to be fueled. So what went wrong?

    They ran out of trees.

  2. Thanks for this Professor. Funny how the sentiment of New Town’s shared pathways didn’t make it into modern ” out of town” developments. Nor did other cultural activities – is there a Delfin development with a theatre? The gendering of pathways also doesn’t seem to have made it. Pity really, safe paths are safe for all – regardless of propensity to don a skirt.
    Cheers

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