I really like using Uber, mostly because I don’t pay that much for using it. I make all my friends get the app, and I make them use my promo code, so I can build credit. As a college student whose paychecks mostly go to school and rent and other life necessities, it’s really nice to spend little to almost no money on transportation. Gas is expensive these days.
Recently though, I’ve been questioning my use of Uber. Aside from the long-standing issues between Uber and cab companies, there are more subtle issues that have been slowly coming to light. To the point where a collaboration with the UN was necessary.
When I received the email from Uber, I didn’t give it much thought. With positive, encouraging words promising changes and the UN logo, it sounded like a nice PR move, the Uber and UN collaboration. Uber was now employing 20,000 women drivers in addition to promising new safety features. When I first glanced it over, I was kind of pleased thinking, “Cool, more jobs for women!” But after thinking it through, I ended up with a lot more questions and started re-thinking about my love for this new ride-sharing app.
I was concerned. If Uber was employing 20,000 new women drivers, were they not originally hiring women in the first place? If so, then shouldn’t we be more concerned with gender discrimination? More importantly, though, the Uber and UN collaboration to employ only women drivers perpetuates the “all men are rapists” stereotypes.
I have only used Uber by myself once, and I admit feeling a little worried after reading and hearing so many incidents of Uber and sexual assaults. Nothing bad happened, though, and I felt silly afterwards for assuming that something bad could have happened to me. When my friend and I went to Las Vegas for spring break, her parents instructed us to stay away from Uber and only use taxis.
Sexual assault isn’t just limited to Uber. There have been sexual assault cases involved with taxi drivers. Sexual assault can happen anywhere. But more importantly, we are instilling this fear and further fueling this belief that male transportation drivers are rapists, that men rape. And yes, some are, but that does not mean everyone is.
We are warned that we should be careful of who we trust, but it seems unfair to judge someone based on a photo to ensure our safety. Should I cancel all future rides with male Uber drivers to make sure I am safe? Should I just stop going out so I can avoid this situation in general?
Employing female drivers is a temporary solution, and it won’t fix the problem that some Uber drivers take advantage of passengers. We need to start rethinking how we portray gender stereotypes, how we deal with sexual assault and rape as a society, and how to ensure safety without feeding into the stereotypes.
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