Hey, New York lady-humans! You now have (slightly more and maybe less shady) options when it comes to choosing a taxi. Today, a women-only taxi service called SheRides will reportedly open in New York City, Westchester County, and Long Island. Rejoice.
As TIME’s Jacob Davidson writes, SheRides (called SheTaxi in Westchester and Long Island) mirrors international examples of “female-specific” public transportation. SheRides will provide “exclusively female drivers to female riders” via an Apple app, only giving rides to groups with at least one woman in their party. (Taxi-crashing dudes trying to catch a ride will be redirected to another ride service.)
Drivers will wear “hot pink pashmina scarves” enabling a very chic and overwhelmingly labia-like experience, which aims to spice up—a la Lyft's pink mustache—a rather mundane routine. Although we're not entirely sure the pink scarves are all that spicy to be honest. As Jezebel’s Hillary Crosley says, choosing a taxi is about “as exciting a choosing a female OBGYN for my annual pap smear.”
SheRides founder Stella Mateo says the service aims to help support women drivers in an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry, while simultaneously creating an option for women passengers who may feel uncomfortable riding alone with a male driver and may be concerned about potential sexual harassment. As repeated harassment on public transportation seems to be transpiring with disturbing frequency pretty much everywhere, and has grown to such a fever pitch that some women feel safer separating themselves from men entirely while in transport, SheRides seems to have the right idea.
Depending on who you are, riding in a cab can be risky. Queer, community-based ride services like San Francisco’s Homobiles dispatches volunteers who ensure safe transportation for LGBTQ people, sex workers, and anyone who might have trouble getting a typical cab to stop for them based on their orientation or gender presentation.
There’s undoubtedly a need for services that provide safe transportation sans harassment, but SheRides might run into some glaring roadblocks. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Federal and New York laws forbid businesses from treating a worker or job applicant unfavorably because of the person's sex.” SheRides counters that "we'll have legal folks who will handle [any allegations of discrimination]," but as Above The Line: Redline writer Eli Mystal says, “One might wonder if the company talked to any 'legal folks before launching.”
Yeah, kind of an important detail.
In addition to the potential legal problems SheRides could potentially face, an women-only taxi is unfortunately only a temporary and problematic solution for sexual harassment. Kind of like date rape drug-detecting nail polish, a commercial women-only taxi service like SheRides seems both erroneous and futile, like applying a bandaid to a stab wound. Because the only way to end sexual harassment is not to sexually harass. The responsibility for preventing sexual harassment shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of women.
Ostensibly, SheRides is a great idea, but in actuality it may actually surface more problems than it solves. Why was she dressed like that? Why didn’t she say no? Why didn’t she take the women-only taxi? That’s a thing now. Having to decide on which taxi to take depending on whether or not you think you’ll be harassed by the driver is an incredibly shitty headspace to live in.
In the end, I suppose only time will tell if SheRides is gasoline on the ever-simmering fire of sexual harassment. . . or just the thing to help extinguish it.