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Yes, All Cars (a Metaphor)

13 Jan

All cars could kill pedestrians. Yes, ALL cars.

“But,” you might object, completely missing the point of the first sentence, “I’M a careful driver. I’D never do a hit and run. I’D never crush an innocent pedestrian who observed all possible safety protocols and was minding their own business when crossing the street at the appropriate crossing. You are just complaining about nothing! Drivers have it hard too! I’D never hurt someone with my car! You can’t blame me for what a few other drivers did! Not All Cars!”

Yes, All Cars.

All cars COULD kill pedestrians.

Do they? No.

Could they? Yes.

Do pedestrians have a way of telling whether all of the cars on the street – whose drivers they do not all know – are dangerous and going to hurt them? NO.

Would you, Nice Driver, think it sensible or stupid to assume that because you are a competent and considerate driver that when complete strangers cross the street you’re driving on they can just wander across the street when your light turns red, without looking both ways too see if a car is going to ignore the red light?

Do you really think that somehow every single pedestrian in the world can just walk across the street trusting all cars to obey traffic laws because they know you specifically would never run a red light?

I doubt it. I suspect you are aware that not everyone drives as cautiously and considerately as you. I suspect that you are aware that it is perfectly reasonable for all pedestrians to be wary of all cars – because all cars could kill them. And there is no way for a pedestrian to know who is driving. And, even if they could know that when you were the driver stopped at the crossing they were safe from that direction, how can they know you’ll never screw up – just a little? You might be on your phone, or distracted, or just a bit too close to the legal drinking limit. You’d never normally be the driver in a hit and run, after all, so surely they should stop complaining and let their guards down while you veer wildly across the street, right? No. Not right. I hope that’s your automatic response, but I doubt it.

You’re a Nice Driver. A Good Driver. So when pedestrians are cautious and look both ways because they know that not all cars obey traffic laws and justify taking precautions by pointing out that All Cars Could Kill Them, you get upset – it wounds your pride to feel included in the “Bad Drivers” category, even though you aren’t – and so you loudly protest at every opportunity that Not All Cars!

Then, one day, while you’re driving cautiously and carefully, another driver pulls a hit and run right in front of you. It’s horrifying. It’s tragic. It’s totally not the pedestrian’s fault, because the car ran a red light and the pedestrian was on the official crossing while the crossing light was green and they had looked both ways before stepping onto the crossing. The pedestrian did nothing wrong. The car was totally in the wrong. And you’re a good, nice driver, so you get out of the car and – without looking anywhere or worrying at all about traffic laws and cars hitting you – walk over to where the victim is (bleeding, half-dead and severely traumatised) being cared for by the paramedics and you say to the victim “It’s your own fault for walking where you were supposed to – for existing as a pedestrian in a world full of cars. How can you blame the car for running over you? You’re a pedestrian: you should have expected it.” Then, feeling mighty proud of yourself you get back in your car, again not having even thought to look out for traffic while you walked and ignoring the pedestrian’s week protests that they DID look out for danger and were expecting it because they always have to (even in their own driveway and home) while you walked back to it.

When you check your phone, still in your car, you see angry and frightened articles from other pedestrians – articles which talk about how dangerous cars are, because not all of them obey traffic laws and no pedestrian can tell from a distance which will. Articles which call for an end to the driver’s Car Privilege – saying that they should come to understand that they are, no matter how nice they personally might be, driving high-speed four-ton metal boxes of death. Articles saying that it is wrong and unfair for pedestrians to have to constantly be checking if cars are going to behave with basic decency, while the drivers enjoy a complete lack of concern for their own – and everyone else’s – safety. Car Privilege, the social movement calls it, an unfair burden on the pedestrians who are forced to take the drivers’ responsibility for them while it never even occurs to the drivers that pedestrians shouldn’t have to live with a quiet, constant, fear in the back of their minds – that pedestrians shouldn’t have to view existing outside their homes as a potential life and death situation every damn time they walk out their front door, even if they stay in their own gardens. Drivers, the social movement says, shouldn’t be allowed to blame cautious pedestrians for existing and claim they deserved it when a driver ignores a red light. That “you just need a good hit-and-running” should not be drivers’ go to reaction to pedestrians who speak out for their rights. That threats of being turned into road pizza as revenge for daring to defend their rights should not be seen as harmless or acceptable – especially because all too often the drivers who do perform hit and runs take the public’s refusal to condemn such comments as validation and go on to deliberately run down other innocent pedestrians.

The articles and the social movement rally around a simple truth: All Cars Could Kill You. But this, this infuriates you. It wounds your Driver’s Pride. After all, you aren’t the sort of driver who performs hit-and-runs. You are a Good Driver. A Nice Driver. So, while you drive, you respond vocally to these upstart pedestrians. “Not All Cars!” you write to them. You explain how you are a good, considerate, driver and they would never need to fear around you. When they inevitably point out that you are a complete stranger who could be making that up, that cars don’t come with helpful Safe Driver alerts for pedestrians and that it doesn’t fucking matter if you specifically are a good driver because all it takes is the one asshole on the road and they are road pizza, it wounds your pride even more. How dare they? You tell yourself. This Car Privilege is a load of nonsense. Drivers suffer too! They, like, can’t text whenever they want and their drink holders aren’t always secure and they have to drive around the parking lot like six times before they find a parking space close enough to the doors! It’s not all cars that are dangerous.

Yes, All Cars are dangerous, the movement replies. Yes, All Pedestrians have near misses. But you don’t want to hear it. You’ve already decided that Car Privilege is a load of nonsense, so you start talking about Pedestrian Privilege and how those pesky pedestrians are so lucky they don’t have to suffer taking their feet in to the mechanic or getting stuck in traffic. Those are real, serious, problems for drivers! They’re totally on par with not being able to leave the house without being subtly, but constantly, on alert because of all the cars on the road ANY of them could be the one that runs the red light and – if not outright kills the pedestrian – at least brutalises them and violates them. Getting stuck in traffic, you decide, is totally equal to living in constant fear that any stranger might take your life or mutilate your body.

You’re wrong. You’ve missed the point. You’re so blinded by your Car Privilege that you can’t see that you’re making the problem worse.  Yes, All Cars Could Kill A Pedestrian. That doesn’t mean that all cars will. It means that they could. Yes, All Pedestrians have experience with drivers abusing them and blaming them for the driver’s inability to stay off the damn sidewalk. It means we live in an unjust world where drivers think their minor inconveniences are equal to or worse than always having to double check that everything is safe, that all of the drivers currently nearby aren’t going to decide your life and bodily safety aren’t worth as much as their desires, that even if you are in your home you could have a rouge car (or the car of one of the Drivers in your family) come crashing through the wall to crush you and leave you with mental and physical injuries which will ruin much of your life (assuming they leave you that much).

The point of the movement isn’t “All drivers are terrible”. It’s “All drivers COULD turn out to be that one asshole and it’s unjust that pedestrians should have to live in constant Fight or Flight mode because All Cars could potentially run their red light and there is no way to know which is which.”

Now replace “Cars” and “Drivers” with “Men”, “Pedestrians” with “Women”, and “Hit-and-run” with “Sexism” and “Sexual Assault” and maybe, just maybe, you’ll finally understand why male privilege is a problem.

It’s been years since those hashtags started, guys, why are so many of you STILL unable to understand a simple concept?

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Posted by on January 13, 2017 in On Reality

 

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