What inspired you to become a voice for the safety of female passengers in ride hail apps like Uber and Lyft and what do you hope to accomplish through this PSA? I think it is worth to mention here overall problems with gig economy. I find it really pathetic how these companies exploit their drivers - they are not considered employed even if they exclusively work for these companies. They get no sick pay, no holidays pay. They are supposed to be liberated entrepreneurs but they are de facto precarious workers exploited by global companies. So it is important to remember that when trying to fight for safety of passengers, this is not a fight against Uber drivers and this needs to go hand in hand with attempts to draw attention to the conditions under which they operate, and how the companies are taking advantage of them. These issues are linked and should be addressed jointly.
What are your thoughts on the #MeToo hashtag campaign? does it unite victims or is it problematic? There is no excuse for sexual harassment and abuse and any industry, not just entertainment and Hollywood, has responsibility to eradicate itin their respective field. To be honest, i have been really critical of this "campaign"... it is actually not even a campaign, campaigns usually have a target and objectives and i am not sure this does. But that is a minor point. I personally think that this "campaign" is not helping anything and anyone... there are so many issues with it. Just to name few:- we are not creating some myth that nobody knew about sexual harassment, we just woke up it existed.... or we were all aware of it but women were scared of talking about it. Which begs a question of what has been feminist movement doing for last 50 years that women were not empowered to speak out but now, some hashtag liberates them. To me, this looks like justifying something we want to believe in while it is not there.
- Sexual harassment should be dealt with when it happens, and there should be proper processes to deal with it. Nothing changes is someone writes about it on social media.
- Trial by mob. If we believe in rule of law and proper procedures, we should believe in innocent till proven guilty. It has not happened in many of the recent cases.
- On psychology level, there are actually studies that expressing rage on social media diminishes ability and willingness to actually deal with it in the real like. this is a very good article on it www.wired.com/story/the-problem-with-me-too-and-viral-outrage/in summary "however, #MeToo is a too-perfect meme. It harnesses social media’s mechanisms to drive users (that’s you and me) into escalating states of outrage while exhausting us to the point where we cannot meaningfully act. In other words, #MeToo—despite the best intentions of so many participating—is everything that’s wrong with social media. Outrage is central to the design of most social media platforms—for very good reason. It’s an emotion that inspires sharing, which causes all of us to spend more time engaged with the platform. And that translates directly to revenue for the companies."
I think that the main problem with these sort of initiatives is that women should not be encouraged to talk about it - to share bad stories. But do something about it beyond social media. And i am not sure that is happening. It seems like everyone will be like, yeh, we outed few people, we cried about it on social media, few weeks in a row, same old story. These are few problems.
Are you surprised by the recent surge in women coming forward or do you believe it was a long time coming? Personally, this comes in certain waves. In 1991, there was Anita Hill (Clarence Thomas controversy) and if you read coverage of that period, it was claimed it was a defining moment against sexual harassment. There were no social media but tons of women were writing to Anita Hill and at least in the USA, the situation very much looked like now... then, 25 years later, the same thing. Maybe this shows that we do not need big eureka moments for this sort of problems but continuous hard work to ensure that problems are resolved rather than being highlighted every quarter of century...
In a recent interview, you mentioned that you identify as an 'anti-feminist'. can you elaborate on what this phrase means to you? i do not think i am anti-feminist!! there is no one "feminism" - there are feminism’s. i have a problem with the contemporary "victim-hood type of feminism" which portraits women as weak victims or "vulnerable". I am an old fashion feminist who believes in equality and empowerment. That women should be empowered and be able to do what they want to do, be it a mother, homemaker, ceo, model, scientist, activist, teacher or anything. So if we do subscribe to the popular notion of "feminism" that women are victims, then i may be anti-feminist ;)
although-the uber recent media coverage:
Uber fined $8.9 million by Colorado for allowing drivers with felony convictions, other driver’s license issues – 11/20/17• Colorado’s public utilities commission claims that Uber had background check information that should have disqualified over 50 people from becoming drivers but allowed them to drive anyway. Uber is facing a class action lawsuit from U.S. riders alleging assault – 11/14/17• two women are calling for Uber to change many of its driver screening practices on behalf of all sexual assault and harassment victims by their drivers.• both women were assaulted by their drivers and claim that Uber misled passengers on thesafety of the service.• the women argue that Uber’s inadequate background checks create a “system within whichbad actors can gain access to vulnerable victims.” California woman sues Uber for negligence in alleged rape by driver – 11/16/17• a woman claims that Uber did not do enough to properly vet the driver who assaulted her.• she is suing for negligence, fraud, assault, battery and emotional distress.• following the assault, the driver was arrested and charged with rape. the criminal case isongoing.• according to the complaint, the driver had a documented history of domestic violence andsexual abuse. Uber driver charged with sex assault – 11/20/17• Uber driver was arrested and charged with sexual assault, assault and disorderly conduct.• victim claims she was in the vehicle with two friends when the driver began asking about her chest size and reached over to grab her chest multiple times. PAVE & NLA position points:• it is critical that ride-hailing apps conduct the strictest possible background checks on all drivers to ensure the utmost safety for all passengers.• ride-hailing apps should be held to the same hiring and operating standards of taxi and private car services.• while these standards and checks cannot completely solve the problem, they are a huge step forward for violence prevention.• sexual assault victims of ride-hailing services must be treated the same as any other victims and must not be blamed in way regardless of why they used the services, their physical/mental state, etc.
*still, i think that the issue of safety of passengers needs to be addressed jointly with the whole way how gig/share economy works and also address the position of drivers and conditions under which they operate. So Uber and other companies have to stop pretending they are just operating software that links drivers and passengers as they are much more. And with that, comes more responsibility which they so far largely refused to accept.