As I drove along Port Road, a white Mitsubishi began merging from the far right lane into my own. The car veered too soon, and what would have been a textbook merge soon became a near sideswipe. I clamped my hand upon the steering wheel, horn blaring, until the Mitsubishi retreated to its own lane.
I drove on, but some time later noticed that the car was behind me, tailgating with high beams on. I was not going to further provoke such stupid road rage, but the car continued behind me, following, turn after turn.
I drove down a maze of back streets, further away from my house, but it was stupid to think I could shake this car off. I approached Queen Street, well lit and lined with coffee shops and boutiques – all closed at this hour, of course. I planted my foot to the brake, and wrenched up the handbrake.
Keys still in the ignition, I pushed my door open, jumped out and walked towards the Mitsubishi. Only when I was several metres away did I realise that my pursuers were four girls, probably younger than me.
The driver did not wind down her window, so instead I raised my voice demandingly.
“Do you have a problem? I’ve got your rego and I won’t hesitate to call the police.”
“You can’t park here, you know.”
It was true; I had stopped in the very middle of the road. The whining response was hardly an explanation though, so I announced again that I would call the police.
Besides advising me to report the incident, the police were useless. The car had sped away and thus no further action could be taken. I was shaken and reluctant to go home, and it wasn’t until later that I rationally concluded that the four stalkers had likely been intoxicated, and were youngsters just out to cause trouble.
The next day, I reported the incident to the police. The officer who recorded my details was dismissive and uninterested. He took my details not on a computer nor an official document, but a small, torn scrap of paper.
“If action was taken for every conflict on the road, there would be too much work for us. Also, there are always two sides to a story. There’s no point following it up.”
The condescension was unmistakeable, oozing from the officer’s voice and inscribed upon his face.
Surely this testosterone fuelled young man provoked the girls. He and his mates probably inflamed the situation. Maybe he’s submitting a false report to cause the girls a bit of trouble.
Of course, I had forgotten that women constitute the position of a minority group, whereas men are the more dominant majority. I should have remembered that women have an unwavering domestic preoccupation and an innate submissive character, and that men are aggressive and misogynistic.
Hang on. I’m confused. Where did societal development disappear to? No longer does the male hunt and the female gather, and yet judging by the officer’s response, the legitimacy of the incident I reported seemed to be dictated by institutionalised gender stereotypes.
Sex, gender and sexuality should not define someone nor dictate their character. Cultural background, beliefs, perceptions and personal experiences play a much larger role, but one should not be discriminated on such.
Stereotypical qualities are simply developed in response to conditioning and social discrimination; for a man to be male he must be masculine, and to hell with the spectrum in between. In an ideal world, biological differences would not be used as a justification to shackle us into specific roles. If this were the case, I’m sure that true diversity would thrive.
As I was pursued home the other night, I was thinking more of my own safety than of the sex of my pursuers. Had it been four men following me, or perhaps four men following a female, would the officer have perceived the incident as more serious? Maybe I’m being a bit unfair, but the catch phrase “SAPOL: Keeping SA Safe” just doesn’t seem to cut it.
By Ben Nielsen
Read more of Ben's work at http://www.bennielsen.wordpress.com/