Safe Space On Wheels

The idea has been floating around for a while, since SheTaxi launched.  According to TechCrunch, another company is going for it, set to launch in Boston this time.

Uber driver Michael Pelletz is launching a new ridesharing service with a twist: All the drivers and passengers will be women. Chariot for Women will be active in the Boston area on April 19. But does the world need another ridesharing service? Especially one so specific? It turns out maybe it does.

The new Uber of Ubers? This time, with flagrant discrimination. Putting aside the irony of its founder being male, as in he wouldn’t be able to drive for his own company, this concept is an open assertion that the irrational fears of feminism constitute a sufficient basis to overcome all law that prohibits discrimination.

Employment, accommodation, human rights, on federal, state and local levels, laws exist that forbid discrimination on gender. And the core justification for Chariot for Women is that it discriminates. 

“The premise is the same as all the other ridesharing services,” Pelletz said in a phone interview. “There’s a driver app and a client app, except that what makes us unique is our safety feature that other apps forgot to do.” The service’s patent-pending technology gives the driver and the client a code in the app after a ride request has been made. When the car arrives, the driver and passenger make sure their codes match before the passenger gets in the car. Chariot for Women donates 2 percent of every fare to charity, and the company does not use surge charging.

The 2% for charity piece is window dressing; inexplicably, people fail to do the addition and realize that just means they take an additional 2% from passengers and donate it as they please, enjoying the charitable deduction that passengers don’t and giving it to their preferred cause rather than their passenger’s. But then, math is hard, and, well, you know.

The rationale is that male drivers are rapists. Male passengers, apparently, are rapists as well. Aside from children under 13 (though why 13 isn’t clear), all males are rapists. Well, maybe not all, but enough that all males are deemed sufficiently likely to rape as to justify protecting women from them.

That safety issue is making headlines lately, especially for Uber. BuzzFeed obtained screenshots in March showing thousands of complaints against the company seeming to involve rape and sexual assault. In December 2014, an Uber driver in India was arrested on suspicion of raping a passenger. And just today, Uber agreed to pay $25 million for overstating the thoroughness of its background checks.

“We’re doing this because there is such inequality when it comes to security that afflicts driver and rider due to gender,” Pelletz reiterated. “Women are across the world the ones being harassed and assaulted by male drivers. In my eight months as an Uber driver, I didn’t hear any negative feedback from men.”

One can fairly easily parse the inherent flaws with each example, but that ignores the point. The premise of Chariot for Women is that females perceive a fear of sexual assault, an “inequality of security,” whatever that means, and therefore are entitled to violate discrimination laws because of their feelings.

Pelletz obviously realizes this, and says he’s ready to take it on.

There are likely legal difficulties ahead for a service that states outright that it will not serve men. That doesn’t worry Pelletz. “We look forward to legal challenges. We want to show there’s inequality in safety in our industry. We hope to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to say that if there’s safety involved, there’s nothing wrong with providing a service for women.”

Pretty bold, and it would be fair to expect that Pelletz has had a chat or two with lawyers about the potential problems.  Whether the lawyers are competent or true believers is another matter. We’ve seen many lawyers blinded by their religion, making laughable arguments to justify their absurd theories.  If Pelletz wanted to find a lawyer who would tell him his concept is legally sound, it wouldn’t be hard to do.

Is the argument legit?  If there is “safety involved,” is that good enough to justify ignoring all laws to the contrary?  And is there “safety involved,” or rather the irrational fear of a certain segment of women inclined to believe that any contact with a male in an enclosed space carries a sufficient potential for rape to legitimize their fear?

On the one hand, replace gender with race and the flaw of the argument becomes obvious.  After all, everyone knows blacks are disproportionately criminals, and when there is “safety involved, there is nothing wrong with providing a service for” whites.  Yeah, the argument doesn’t come off nearly as well when it’s put that way.

But then, whites aren’t a marginalized group, and claiming that the risk of black men being criminals is elevated is WRONG. It is, but then, so is the risk that all men are rapists. It’s just that one is politically acceptable under the rules of social justice and the other is not.

Are women marginalized such that their safety justifies absolution from all anti-discrimination laws? It’s curious that the majority gender claims marginalization, based on their apparent lack of success in achieving control over much of anything, but that would ignore the fact that the vast number of women are intelligent and rational, and refuse to hop aboard the infantilization of women train. They are not so weak and helpless that they need to be “special” to survive.

Will this facially discriminatory concept win in the Supreme Court?  A preliminary question is whether it will make it to the Supreme Court, which would require males to challenge it in court. Thus far, there doesn’t appear to be much interest by men in raising a ruckus over a business based on feminist tropes. I could make a “woman driver” joke here, but that would be gratuitous and offensive. For whatever reason, it doesn’t appear that anyone cares all that much.

This is just another data point in the gender war demanding that everything from laws to cabs be treated differently because women want what they want, whether they are right to feel as they do or just awash in their irrational feelings.  So what if it’s hypocritical? That hasn’t seemed to present much of a stumbling block for neo-feminists, who argue that they deserve special treatment at every turn because of their emotional needs.

It would make for a fascinating test of law for this concept to come before the Supreme Court, to test whether the feminist universe of excuses and rationalizations is sufficient to exempt women from logic, facts and the principles that apply to everyone else.  But it’s not likely to happen unless some guy cares enough to make a stink over it.

H/T Keith Kaplan

29 thoughts on “Safe Space On Wheels

  1. mb

    How do they decide if a person is a man? Just by looking at them? Genetic testing? Either way would be transphobic.

      1. mb

        Whether you’re pulling down genes or pulling down jeans, it’s still transphobic, and if it’s a woman, then you’ve committed sexual assault, too.

  2. Keith

    My favorite part is the driver claiming he was scared one day and immediately thinking to himself — what if I were a woman?

    Infantalization, much?

    Thus far, there doesn’t appear to be much interest by men is raising a ruckus over a business based on feminist tropes.

    My money is on Roy Den Hollander. This has his name written all over it.

  3. Levi

    It amazes me that neo-feminists and their allies are now basically advocating for, if not attempting to mandate, the Billy Graham Rule. Maybe if this business can limp along for a while without any serious challenge he will open a side business oriented at men and openly court evangelicals or any other group that might view close interaction with a woman as religiously prohibited. Who knows, maybe there’s even a demand for it.

  4. Jim Tyre

    We hope to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to say

    If I had a dollar for every client I’ve turned down who’s said that, I could take Scott to a Dodgers game (as long as Scott pays his own way to L.A.)

      1. Jim Tyre

        Of course!

        (My cousin happens to be the executive chef at Dodger Stadium. He makes a mean dog.)

    1. DaveL

      I might be wrong, but to me nothing says “I’m not spending my own money” like launching a new company whose entire business plan is contingent on the Supreme Court making an exception for me.

  5. John Barleycorn

    Uber Uterus…

    Any day now the  “children” will probably be finding their grandparents record collections in the attic. Some of those collections will include a few Dead Kennedys records.

    Hard to say what will happen next but I think you got to have your money on the
    “uncool niece” in Uber Alles, no?

    1. SHG Post author

      And here I expected you to come up with cool new names just in case someone else wants to start a taxi for twinkies business.

      1. losingtrader

        Twinks? Wow . I’m not sure it’s a big enough subset of the population but my bet is it doesn’t get to SCOTUS.

        1. John Barleycorn

          My effort was pretty weak in comparison to your “Uber of Ubers” line.

          But I figured I should hold up a banner, from the cheap seats, on the known origin of the gradual uptick in the usage of “uber” in the urban lexicon. More than a few might not be able to put it together.

          P.S. I think I might have tracked that down “shtupping” as well. Your readers aren’t very charitable I guess.

          1. Frank

            Back before Marvel became cool, I was part of a Live-Action Role Playing (LARP) group that wrote and produced a superhero game. Because of copyright we had to come up with new hero names so of course we had “Uberman.”

  6. Edward Wiest

    To the extent that ride-sharing companies are, or will be treated as if they were, common carriers, the legality under anti-discrimination laws of a women for women company is dubious (but note some states have solved the problem for health clubs by legislatively authorizing women only facilities). However, to play the devil’s advocate:

    A passenger in an area where street hails of taxis are actually possible (Manhattan south of 96th St. or a transportation terminal waiting line) turns down rides until finding a driver of the desired gender. Would the drivers who were turned down have the right to assert an antidiscrimination claim? When the service is being provided one-on-one, to what extent do we respect customer preference, much as we may believe such preferences reflect discriminatory (dare I say) animus rather than having any rational basis?

    1. SHG Post author

      Not an apt analogy. The duty is on the business side, not the customer side. As for customer preference (which is an entirely different issue), only if it’s a bona fide occupational qualification. Customer preference is almost never a justification for discrimination. Safety may be, but not based upon stereotypical gender fear. It’s not a new concept.

  7. Erik H.

    I agree that this one is illegal discrimination. But the next model won’t be.

    Discrimination laws are always in opposition to personal interests, at least to some degree (obviously, or we wouldn’t need the laws.) But originally they were also more limited, so they created fewer conflicts.

    As the US continues to expand protections, I think we’ll see a lot of people trying to work the margins of discrimination law to give folks what they want, and make a buck.

    So, THIS one’s illegal. My prediction for the next test case is that it will mimic dating sites:
    1) Drivers are independent contractors, and have the option (but not requirement) of registering personal characteristics.
    2) The provider has some sort of base verification process.
    3) Customers can choose to filter allowable drivers by personal characteristics.

    1. SHG Post author

      I can’t tell you how much your agreement means to me. As for the next one, I lack the ability to see into the future, so I’ll just have to take your word for it. As for discrimination law, you are almost as knowledgeable as you are about crim law. The breadth of your brilliance never ceases to amaze!!!

  8. Mort

    Aside from children under 13 (though why 13 isn’t clear)

    I’m going to guess it has to do with Massachusetts statutory rape laws or some such nonsense. I’d bet that this dolt talked to a lawyer (who probably does nothing but plead out DUIs) and the lawyer said “well, under the age of 13 they can’t consent to sex with anyone at all…” and our hero thought “jackpot, I can allow pre-teen boys to use the service and then I’m not discriminating based on gender!”

    At least, I hope that’s the reason, or else the whole thing starts to sound, you know, stupid

    1. Mort

      Pretty bold, and it would be fair to expect that Pelletz has had a chat or two with lawyers about the potential problems.

      Well, I think it is fair to expect that he talked to law professors, perhaps a certain professor from the University of Miami School of Law and Feelz.

    2. SHG Post author

      Those 13 year old boys can be a wee bit hormonal, you know. Well, before the Great Neutering they were, at least.

  9. JD

    How long until Outtie v Innie becomes the next case on twitter.

    What will happen when a man who self identifies as a woman wants a ride or a job? Would the progressive beams of reason cross and end the universe and replace it with something even crazier? A wise man once suggested that maybe this has already happened.

    But us outties should rejoice, as this re-opens the door for all men clubs again, because women need to be insulated from men for their own protection, delicate things they are. We can call it the reverse chick-chariot rule when we make deals in smoke filled rooms in our outtie only clubs.

    Because if it saves just one innie from being raped its worth it you know.

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