Ten pedestrian crossings in inner-city Melbourne are being refitted with female silhouettes, in an effort to reduce supposed ‘unconscious bias’ against women.
The changes are part of a 12-month trial by VicRoads – the state government’s road and traffic authority – but the idea is the brainchild of a non-profit lobby group, the Committee for Melbourne.
According to the group’s chief executive, Martine Letts, the current silhouettes of male stick figures used in pedestrian crossings around Australia are discriminatory towards women.
The end goal for Letts is universal, one-to-one gender equality in pedestrian crossings across the state, a move she claims will ‘help reduce unconscious bias’.
It’s easy to poke fun at the claim that existing pedestrian crossings discriminate against women. It’s not as if women in Melbourne are being forced to dodge traffic or face fines for jaywalking, while men wait patiently at the lights.
But this campaign is more than just a joke. It’s evidence of the decline of the feminist movement, and the failure of our political class.
Whereas the Suffragettes campaigned for the right to vote and equality under the law, and second-wave feminists fought for women’s liberation and equal opportunity in the social sphere, many modern feminists seemingly prefer frivolous symbolic gestures that do nothing actually to improve the circumstances of women.
And it’s not as if there’s nothing left for them to do. There are persistent problems that exist in society – violence against women, for example. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2012 Personal Safety Survey, 34 per cent of women in Australia have experienced physical violence since the age of 15, and 19 per cent have experienced sexual violence.