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Home > Politics

Women! Know Your Limits

28 October 2005

There was much fishwife shrieking and stamping of ickle feet in the capital this week, as Transport for London rolled out a helpful new leaflet in a desperate attempt to teach dippy women how to behave on the tube. Marketing experts racked their brains for minutes on end before coming up with a front cover adorned with nice lipsticks. They come in *tubes*, see? Apparently, it was either that or a row of tampons. Inside, the helpful gender-specific advice includes gentle exhortations to carry cereal bars during the rush hour in order to avoid the common problem of delays due to swooning ladies, the suggestion that walking with care in 'party shoes' is a good idea, and the introduction of a 'Baby on Board' badge. When wearing this tiny reminder that one is heavily pregnant and could do with taking the huge strain off one's back as one lugs around eight pounds of progeny, every woman can relax knowing that the requirement to be assertive and ask for a seat has been considerately removed.

To be fair, such common-sense pointers as 'carry a mini-cab card' really can't be repeated enough, and it's sadly true that there will always be embarrassing twits who are genuinely surprised to be told that high heels may result in tottering. But the vast, vast majority of women will rend their nice Toni & Guy dos at the babying tone of the leaflet, the cringingly superfluous uninformation therein, and the proliferation of lipsticks as far as the mascara'd eye can see.

Even more appalling is the fact that the leaflet was devised by women, revealing a depressing strain of sexist bosh lurking still among sisters. Unless of course, the menfolk who actually wrote and designed it are just putting that about to validate their condescending guff. Either way, the complex message conveyed by the outlandishly girlie design goes something like this: 'We don't want you to feel we're lecturing you (even though we sort of are a bit because frankly your irresponsibility does cause us rather a bother on occasion) so we're going to make this cheerful and pretty to put you at your ease. We don't want you to feel frightened by tube travel. Always remember, you are every bit as valued as our other more important customers. And since we appreciate that even in our enlightened society you still feel rather dis-en-fran-chised, we thought we'd make it clear that this is something that is Just For Women by covering the thing in lipsticks. Are you going to deny that you like lipstick? Really? Christ, it's just a fucking *leaflet*. You women always get your knickers in a twist about the smallest things. Sheesh. No wonder you're still paid less.'

Such seemingly inconsequential things only serve to indicate how far things haven't actually come. But what tube tips would modern women who amount to more than just their pampered kissable lips be genuinely grateful for?


1) Take a hint from Tokyo's wily female tube-goers - if a man gropes you, turn to face him and announce that you know where he works and will tell his boss. Then demand money. (Money can be exchanged for goods and services, including make-up.)

2) Long tube journeys can be boring. Amuse yourself by crossing and uncrossing your legs like Sharon Stone, and having bets with yourself as to which man sitting opposite will be the first to shift about and cough.

3) If your long evening dress becomes caught in an escalator, resulting in that pretty frock being ripped from your body and dragged into the mechanism, leaving you shivering and exposed in your matching frilly La Senza bra and knickers, with the eyes of hundreds of people roving over your distressed heaving bosom and trembling thighs [Note to leaflet editor: I've completely
forgotten what my original point was here, can you help?]

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