Beyond Bright Lights and Security Cameras: Re-Gendering Melbourne’s Public Transport System

Thea Hewitt


Despite the changing position of women in contemporary Australian society, barriers to mobility and spatial equality remain, causing the spatial exclusion of women and facilitating unequal gender relations. This paper identifies the major barriers to women’s mobility as the masculinisation of public space. This occurs through both the physical and conceptual construction of spaces along the pervasive binaries of male/female, masculine/feminine and public/private, which dictate who can legitimately occupy certain spaces and result in the exclusion of women from public spaces, detrimentally impacting their daily mobility. The paper challenges the widespread understanding that women’s ‘fear of crime’ is the main restriction of female mobility, rather showing that it is the underlying assumptions and ideologies about gender and space that are built into our public spaces that limit the mobility of many women. This paper uses the example of Melbourne’s expanding public transport network to highlight the continuing construction of gendered spaces and explores the misplaced social and bureaucratic focus on crime reduction measures to address this issue. It advocates for a whole of society approach to eliminate spatial gender inequality, offering suggestions for the re-gendering of Melbourne’s public spaces to achieve spatial and social gender equality.


gender; public space; mobility; equality; public transport; Melbourne

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