"Taxi drivers are, on the whole, very good to me", said Ann Ingle, the mother of journalist Roísín Ingle, speaking this morning on The Ryan Tubridy Show. "I have nothing against taxi drivers."
Nonetheless, on Sunday Ann experienced an upsetting exchange with a taxi driver, and it has shed further light on the micro acts of sexism and inappropriate behaviour that women endure each day.
On her way to Sunday dinner with Roísín and her family, Ann hailed a taxi and sat in the front seat (something she didn't tell her children because they're always telling her not to sit into the front seat). They got to chatting and the driver asked a few questions, clocking her English accent that she says she "can't get rid of" despite having lived in Ireland for 53 years.
When he asked if she had any children she replied that she had eight.
"'You dirty b**ch', he said, in that kind of jokey, laughy way", said Ann. "I was stunned and I didn't respond as I wish I had have done."
My mother @anningle was called a "dirty bitch" today in Dublin, Ireland by a taxi driver because she is a woman who had eight children. She paid him then left his cab feeling like she was going to throw up. I'm full of rage and I just needed to put this out into the world.— Roisin Ingle (@roisiningle) October 21, 2018
"He then he must have seen the look on my face when he said it," said Ann, "because he then went on to talk about his own family and his marriage etc and I stayed silent for the rest of the journey".
It's an example of passing comments made towards women that are often said in jest but sting and leave the woman feeling angry, confused, hurt and uncomfortable. Not that this should be too much of a factor, says Ann, but she's a 79-year-old woman and the driver a man in his 40s, by Ann's estimate. "I'd worry what this guy would say to a young person if they got in with certain clothes on", she said.
Roísín, "incensed" by the incident, posted about it on Twitter and what followed was a conversation about how such a comment could be made so glibly. Such comments are made so casually that very often the person they're directed to can barely react quickly enough, or are too uncomfortable to do so.
"Sex for me is not dirty. Having eight beautiful children is not dirty and the fact that anyone should suggest such a thing is disgusting and now quite honestly I’m angry with myself that I couldn’t say all of this at the time…
"If that man was here now and I was to accost him, he would say he was joking. And of course he was joking, but it's just not right to joke about a woman's sexuality in such derogatory terms. I don't think he meant to hurt me. In fact, do you know, in a weird way he probably thought he was paying me a compliment, which as a 79-year-old woman makes me feel quite ill."
Ann says she stayed silent for the rest of the journey, paying the driver for the journey and even giving him a tip. "I'm not proud of myself. I would have liked, when he said that to me, to just say 'look, would you stop the car? I'm getting out, I don't want to be in this car.'"
The worry, she said, is how the conversation would go if she challenged him.
Ann is aware, she said, of the Me Too movement and the push back against a "patriarchal mindset in which men think they have an entitlement, some men now, an entitlement to say whatever they like to a woman".
When Ryan suggests that there is still a cohort of men who haven't caught up, generationally, with how it is acceptable to speak to women, Ann says "You're making excuses for them, and I probably would do the same thing, make excuses for them. But that's not really acceptable."
Click on the video above to listen to Ann's story.