Lady and the Van Driver

Posted on April 3, 2012


Ah Spring – the smell of cut grass, lambs frolicking in the sun and the sweet sound of sexist abuse winging its way towards women on the street.

I’m looking at you, White Van Men.

Who could resist this? WHO?

Why is it that as soon as the sun comes out, and winter coats are joyfully shed, that some men think they have the green light to blare their horn, wolf whistle and even shout at women they like the look of?

Since the ice sheet of winter has cracked open, giving way to longer, lighter and warmer days, I’ve found myself on the receiving end of such creepy leerings. It’s not a compliment, believe me.

My first reaction is often does that EVER work?! Is there a single female out there that’s ever responded positively to catcalls of ‘alright darlin’ and ‘nice arse’? No, of course not. Because perving over women on the street is never a legitimate wooing technique, it’s just misogynistic harassment, and it’s not pleasant.

I await the day a van man pulls up at the curb, drops to one knee on the pavement and begins reciting Pablo Neruda. Because if it’s not rhyming couplets, I’m just not interested.

I realise that women are actually relatively privileged here, in comparison with some countries. While living and working in Honduras, Central America, myself and my female colleagues were regularly hissed at by men on the street. Yes, hissed. The culture of ‘machismo’ is strong in Latin America, with public denigration of women by dominant, virulent males pretty common in some places.

I may regret this diatribe against the ills of man when I’m older and, desperate for a shred of attention, find myself strutting past every construction site I can find, in a pair of stilettos, shrieking PLEASE OBJECTIFY ME.

But until then, I’m glad to have found a video which shows men taking the lead in stamping out street harassment – and talking back to guys they see spouting sexist tripe at women.

“Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street” was created by a group of women and men in New York who believe that pestering women in public is unacceptable. It was inspired by International Anti-Street Harassment Week, and calls for White Van Men and chauvinists worldwide to clean up their act and leave us alone.

Once unleashed on the internet last month the video was viewed almost 50,000 times in less than one day. It’s clearly a campaign with clout, but I have yet to experience a man rushing to defend my honour in the face of horn tooting and bigoted rants. I can’t help but feel disappointed.

If anyone wants to step up to the misogyny-bashing plate, you’ll find me waiting for your help in my local Wetherspoons, getting the glad-eye from the old man working the fruit machine. God speed.

Posted in: Society