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Carpark wars: The treatment of women

Kristen Henry

This isn’t about a carpark, it’s about the way you’re treating me because I have a vagina.

Something happened to me recently that’s taken a while for me to come to terms with it and talk about with others because it affected me so deeply. I feel like I have a responsibility to tell you and we can decide as a community, if this is the way we treat our women.

Firstly, dear reader, you need to know I made a mistake and I’m so sorry for it. I was in Braddon visiting one particular real estate agent and I parked in the wrong agents’ private parking spot.

This is a communal carpark with assigned spots. I was in a rush, focused on the one thousand other things on my to-do list and I’m really sorry that I got confused and for 10 minutes, while I popped upstairs to drop off keys, I occupied a spot that I shouldn’t have.

That real estate agent also works at the agency that owns the car spot and spotted me leaving.

He aggressively told me I couldn’t park there unless I had business with his company. I explained I had made a mistake. I wish it had stopped there. Instead, this is where I started fearing for my safety.

He insinuated that because I am a female it was no surprise to him that I’d made a mistake like that. He intimated me; he got up close to my car and face, and spoke to me in a tone and with language that is completely inappropriate.

He used force to hit my car and intimidate me as I attempted to navigate my way out of the carpark as he stood obstructing my car.

It was horrible and I wondered as I drove home, in shock, whether he would have treated me like that if I were male?

I wish his business had a better dispute resolution process. After I drove home and settled, I decided I wanted to call and let his company know the type of impression he is leaving on the community.

I told the receptionist I wanted to provide feedback on an employee after an incident in the carpark. I was put through to him.

On the phone he was condescending, almost amused that I attempted to voice my concerns. I was told there was ‘no-one else available’ to talk too. It seems everyone else in the office was ‘overseas’. I was told my concerns regarding the incident must have been clouded, confused.

There was no number, email, address or name I was offered to voice my concerns too; nor a date when the rest of the staff returned from being ‘overseas’.

I could talk about the damage to the car; I could name your business or your first name that I learnt when I was patched through. I could tell you how teary or jumpy I’ve been since the incident. How my partner asked me all night whether something was wrong and I couldn’t even tell him about it because I felt belittled and powerless.

Let’s be clear this isn’t about a carpark; it’s about the way you treat a lady.

There is no confusion that just because I am female, you are a superior driver. I don’t believe I am clouded in my judgement that your reaction to me parking in your business spot was an overreaction.

There are two words I want to leave you with – perspective and respect.

Perspective: How lucky are we if the biggest problem in a day is confusion regarding a car spot. I have people close to me who would dream to have problems as simple as that.

Respect: May we respect each other, respect that sometimes we all make mistakes; and respect that aggression and intimidation are not tactics to use during discussions.

May we teach our daughters that they are valued, strong and have voices that deserve to be heard.

Thank you for hearing me out, if only this was just about a carpark.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Kristen Henry is one half of The Kristen and Wilko Show on MIX 106.3 in Canberra. Follow her adventures at kristenhenry.com.au.

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  • Trish Smith

    I am really sorry this happened to you. I think you should report him to the Police. What he did was physically threaten you, verbally abuse you, and damage your property. Three really good reasons for him to have a chat with the local constabulary.

  • I don’t know you, Kristen, and I don’t know him (for which I’m thankful). But I do want to apologise on behalf of the men who, like me, will be horrified you were treated so badly.

    I think you *should* name this person, and the company he works for, so that we can all avoid them.

  • Martina

    Gosh Kristen, that is so horrible and Im so sorry that happened to you. That is a terribly disrespectful way to address anyone, whether male or female. Maybe his approach was different because you are a woman but regardless, no one should talk to or intimidate anyone like that. That is completely unacceptable.
    I applaud your decency in not ‘naming and shaming’ the company as Im sure there are many good people that work there too that would be embarrassed to be connected with such behaviour. It is concerning that if that person treats you like that, a complete stranger, how does he deal with issues in the workplace. I would have concern for his co-workers or subordinates.

  • Sarah B

    Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t just bad manners, this is violence against a woman. That shaking embarrassed feeling? That’s what happens when women are abused. You were lucky the abuse was not worse, but don’t let it drop. You might have been intimidated, but in my mind, this man might go home and hurt his wife or his children. I personally would like to know which agent to avoid, but respect you aren’t abusing your position to do that. But do look to make a further complaint. A visit to the police is not inappropriate at all.

  • Michele Gorman

    wow, that’s so terrible, whether male or female no one should speak to anyone like that. Yes, I would definitely report him to the Police, you might be saving someone else from such a horrific experience.

  • Peta

    I’m so sorry you have experienced this Kristen. No one should feel threatened or unsafe.

    As someone who has experienced work place bullying, I am tired of seeing women abused, threatened and made to feel uncomfortable purely because of their gender.

    I know how difficult it can be to talk about so I applaud you for being brave enough to share your story.

    I agree, this incident should be reported to the Police and the company and person should be named. It is wildly inappropriate behaviour – even more so when this person is representing a professional business.

    This person deserves to be held accountable for their actions. Who knows? You may just help prevent it from happening to somebody else…

  • Amanda O’Mara Kiley

    I would report him to the Police. If he owns the agency or if there isn’t anyone else to speak with (though I dare say that’s a big, fat lie) and the agency is part of a franchise speak with their head office – I’m sure they don’t want their name associated with him. Some men need to be bought down a peg or 20 or they will go on and on. It’s hard but stand up to him and let him know this type of behavior is not going to fly. Imagine working with him! That poor receptionist must be in tender hooks with everyone else ‘overseas’.

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