Several traditional crosswalk signals in Melbourne, Australia will soon be replaced with the female figure usually displayed on the outside of public bathrooms.
The conventional pedestrian crossing signals feature a simple human figure. But due to concerns of equality for women, members of the Committee of Melbourne, an Australian lobby group, and city officials are uninstalling some of the standard ones and substituting them with an image that is exactly the same, aside from a widened torso that is intended to depict a dress.
“The idea is to install traffic lights with female representation, as well as male representation, to help reduce unconscious bias,” Martine Letts, the CEO of the Committee for Melbourne, a nonprofit coalition that is composed of more than 120 community organizations and businesses, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). “The aim is to move towards one-to-one male and female representation across the state of Victoria.”
An Australian politician also applauds the idea.
“There are many small — but symbolically significant — ways that women are excluded from the public space,” Victoria’s Minister for Women Fiona Richardson, said in a statement, according to ABC. “A culture of sexism is made up of very small issues, like how the default pedestrian crossings use a male figure — and large issues such as the rate of family violence facing women.”
The initiative, which is called Equal Crossings, according to The Guardian, is receiving mixed reviews.
@Melbourne , i think the traffic lights are a great idea! Way to be innovative!
— Brooke Morin (@brookemorin11) March 7, 2017
Better equality PR would be if Melbourne left pedestrian light signals the same and said “See, it doesn’t matter what women choose to wear!”
— Tudor Holton (@LordHootNut) March 6, 2017
Why do these signs need to be gendered at all? Why not “DON’T WALK” and “WALK”? https://t.co/kR5eiVRimC
— David Olsen (@DDsD) March 6, 2017
@abcnewsMelb Standard symbol can be woman in pants, no? With short hair or hair tied back. What’s with “skirt denotes woman”?
— Gina V Dow (@ArtsandCulture) March 7, 2017
seems to me if you’re worried about Melbourne having women on the pedestrian lights you’re probably way too sensitive about things
— Angus Livingston (@anguslivingston) March 6, 2017
Now we’ve dealt with the evil man crossing lights we are free to solve the final issue facing women everywhere, men holding the door 4 you:
— eat my borts (@bortofdarkness) March 6, 2017
Have heard it all#planet is dying there are #wars #disease & yet
in #Melbourne some r worried about the gender of #pedestrian icon
— Evidentiary (@Evidentiary1) March 6, 2017
@abcnewsMelb man in kilt
— Al (@planetredmania) March 7, 2017
“Ordinary Victorians are concerned about job security, rising crime and transport infrastructure,” said Evan Mulholland from the Institute of Public Affairs think tank, according to the ABC. “If this is what our politicians, bureaucrats and policy makers think is the biggest issue facing road users then perhaps it goes a long way to understanding why we are stuck in traffic everyday.”
Also, while it reportedly doesn’t cost the taxpayers any money because a electrical company is sponsoring the project, many Australians feel the money could be better spent elsewhere.
Sarah Harris, an Australian journalist and television personality, said the funds going to the project would be better spent on facilities that help victims of domestic violence.
Over 42,000 Australian women are homeless while we spend thousands to include female figures in the Melbourne traffic lights… #ridiculous
— Ellie McKenzie (@elliemck3nzie) March 7, 2017
Melbourne is changing some of the green walking men@ traffic lights 2 women 4 gender equality. Setting money on fire achieves same outcome
— mayyyvis (@MrsTempu5_Fugit) March 6, 2017
The average costs for changing six traffic lights: $8,400, according to ABC.
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