It’s that time of year again, and with the outrageously triggering godawful advert we all complained about before being shown yet again, I thought I’d share my experience of grinking cab adverts. (Grink = green ink letter, for anyone unfamiliar with the concept.) This dates to May 2010 and is replicated from my old LiveJournal blog where I first published it. The green is me; the blue are responses.
It was in response to a cab journey I took, where I got a rather odd receipt with an ad on the back of it. The letters speak for themselves.
Dear Sir or Madam,
I was surprised to see on the back of a black cab receipt the following warning:
Every year in London there are 100′s of rapes and sexual assaults and 1000′s of robberies committed by unlicensed minicab drivers. Don’t become a victim, only use a traditional licensed taxi.”
This is a particularly unpleasant way to advertise black cabs. The clear implication is that a woman has only herself to blame if she is raped by a minicab driver.
Rape culture is the name given to the way society normalises rape, often by blaming the victim. That includes victim-blaming adverts such as this.
I recognise that black cab drivers have a vested interest in ensuring that trade does not go to minicab drivers, but to use the spectre of sexual violence to do so is disgusting.
A woman does not make herself a rape victim by getting into a minicab. A rapist makes her a rape victim by raping her.
If London’s excellent cab service wants an advert which genuinely cares for women’s safety rather than blaming them, I’d recommend a pledge that black cab drivers are committed to women’s welfare on the back of receipts instead.
I look forward to hearing from you in relation to this matter.
Yours sincerely, londonfeminist
I got the following response from Transport for London:
Thank you for your enquiry regarding a taxi receipt you were recently given and the message on this.
Transport for London (TfL) has an ongoing campaign to warn people of the dangers of illegal cabs and the risk of sexual assault by illegal cab drivers however, we have not produced taxi receipt pads with messages on as part of this campaign and the receipt you received is not part of TfL’s campaign. One of the taxi organisations in London, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), has recently produced receipt pads for taxi drivers with a warning message on and it may be that the receipt you received was one of these.
I have passed a copy of your message, with your personal details removed, to the LTDA so as they are aware that concerns about their receipt pads have been raised and they can take your comments into account if more receipt pads are produced.
If you have any queries regarding this matter then please do not hesitate to contact me.
Ho hum, I thought, and didn’t expect to hear more. But wrong! The LTDA did indeed get back to TfL, and the chap at TfL helpfully passed on their response. Ready for it? (TW):
Further to my previous email, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), who have produced the receipt pads, have asked me to pass on the message below to you.
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It certainly wasn’t our intention to suggest that victims of rape are responsible for their own downfall or that a woman getting into a minicab will end up being raped or sexually assaulted. The warning on the receipt is based on indesputable facts and if a woman chooses to use a minicab, which after all is her choice, then she should be aware of the risk undertaken. Doesn’t the ‘warning’ on the receipts show that London’s licensed taxi trade cares for women’s safety?
As further proof of the cab trade’s concern for the safety and care of women, last year this association, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, donated £10,000 to St Mary’s Hospital Rape Haven in Paddington which specialises in assisting victims of rape and sexual harassment. This was apart from help given to other victim support groups throughout the year.
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If you have any further queries regarding this please do not hesitate to contact me, if you would like to contact the LTDA directly then you can find their contact details on their website at: www.ltda.co. uk
The fact that they give money to St. Mary’s is neither here nor there. My complaint was about victim blaming and they reverted to me with a message which effectively says “we’re not victim blaming BUT here’s another dollop of victim blame just to make sure.”
So this season, if you’re thinking about complaining about adverts concerning the dangers of minicabs, remember this: the LTDA aren’t worried about minicabs because they give a shit about your safety. Their interest is in protecting their monopoly; they’re prepared to exploit rape culture for their own publicity, and their spokesman thinks rape survivors are fallen women. Quite frankly that sucks chunky goat vomit through a straw. It also, incidentally, shows that they can’t spell “indisputable” but I could forgive them that.