woman in car with caption 'my Uber driver cranked up some sort of incel-adjacent, misogynistic audiobook' (l&r) hand holding phone with Uber logo (c)

Lutsenko_Oleksandr/Shutterstock @laura_lape/TikTok (Licensed)

‘I was silent’: Woman says Uber driver played ‘incel-adjacent, misogynistic’ audiobook during ride

‘As much as I hate to say it, staying silent probably kept you safe here.’

 

Grace Stanley

IRL

A woman recorded herself sitting alone in silence as her alleged Uber driver played an audiobook that she described as “incel-adjacent” and “misogynistic.” She posted the video to TikTok, where it sparked debate over women’s safety when using ride-sharing apps, and why some women choose to stay quiet in an attempt to survive threatening situations.

The viral video, which has over 154,000 views and was posted earlier in the week by lifestyle blogger and TikToker Laura Lape (@laura_lape), shows the TikToker filming herself in the car as an audiobook plays over the car stereo. 

“Women shun men who are easily dominated by other men or who fail to command the respect of the group. Women’s desire for status shows up in everyday life. A colleague overheard a conversation among four women at a restaurant. They were all complaining that there were no eligible men around. Yet, these women were surrounded by male waiters, none of whom was wearing a wedding ring…” the recording reads. 

“My Uber driver cranked up some sort of incel-adjacent misogynistic audiobook,” the TikToker captioned the video. “Wish I could have channeled @Drew Afualo [a TikToker known for roasting misogynistic men], but in actuality, I was silent.”

@laura_lape Wish I could have channeled @Drew Afualo but in actuality, I was silent. #beingawoman #mysoginy #menarescary ♬ original sound – laura lape

In an interview with the Daily Dot, Lape said she was at an event in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, when she ordered an Uber. She said she loves her city and does not usually feel unsafe using ride-sharing apps. She is a stay-at-home mother of three children and said that because it was late, and her husband was putting the children to bed, she decided to Uber home instead of having him pick her up. 

When Lape got in the car, she said her Uber driver did not say hello or make small talk but instead cranked up the audiobook loudly without warning or asking for her permission. While listening to the book’s various assumptions about women, she said she went through “mental gymnastics” trying to understand if he was targeting her because he perceived her as a “party girl” or an easy target, and went through a process of “risk analysis” of trying to decide if she was actually in danger or not. 

Lape said she texted her husband, shared her ride information with both him and a friend, and began recording the ride as evidence in case anything happened. Lape said the route of the ride was almost completely on a long, high-speed highway, making it difficult to end the ride. Despite usually being an outspoken person, she said she remained silent in an effort to not escalate the situation, out of fear the driver now knew her home address. 

“As women, we’re taught to do this kind of risk analysis. … This person who clearly thinks women are beneath men in every sort of way, that has my information, do I want to make him mad?” the TikToker recalled questioning. “I couldn’t decide if I was disappointed in myself for not speaking up or if I was proud of myself for getting home, you know? Which is just another sort of mental gymnastics.” 

The fear of violence, Lape said, is why she won’t publicly share the full details of the driver’s identity. As a mother with three children, she said she does not want to risk putting her family in danger. 

“I’ve got kids and I want to respect their safety,” the TikToker said. “He should be held accountable. But I don’t know if I should be the one to hold him accountable for the safety of my family.” 

After the ride, Lape said she reported the experience on the Uber app but was disappointed to see she was only able to click “I felt unsafe” rather than fully describe her experience. She said she thinks the user interface is too “cut and dry” and fears the system could discourage people from fully reporting their experiences concerning threatening and misogynistic behavior from Uber drivers. 

Lape claimed she eventually received a call from Uber support, which she thinks likely only happened because of people tagging the company in her viral video’s comments section. She said Uber refunded her ride and informed her the driver in question was locked out of his Uber app access until it finalizes an investigation. However, she claimed Uber support staff were unable to locate the report she said she submitted through the Uber app. 

Uber’s press team did not respond to the Daily Dot’s requests for comment via email in time for the publication of this article. 

The audiobook in question is The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating by evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss. While Buss is not an incel, nor does he identify as a misogynist in his work, many of the evolutionary psychology and economic ideas he promotes could certainly be identified as manosphere-adjacent. 

As previously reported by the Daily Dot, incels, or involuntary celibates, is a term denoting online communities almost entirely composed of men who blame their romantic and sexual problems on women. Incels often believe women refuse to sleep with them due to their lack of attractiveness, traditionally masculine qualities, and financial success. In March, the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center (NATC) released a 26-page report on prominent incel-related, gender-based violent attacks since the origins of incel communities on the internet in the late 1990s. 

Surrounding the incel world is the infamous “manosphere,” characterized by online communities of men who promote sexist and misogynistic ideologies. These groups often use evolutionary psychology, economic theories, and biological explanations to justify their misogynistic beliefs and explain their problems with “mating.” 

A certain group of evolutionary psychologists—including Buss, Jordan Peterson, David Buller, John Tooby, Leda Cosmides, and Steven Pinker—have been scrutinized for their generalizations of women’s behavior based on perceived innate biological qualities. Many in the evolutionary psychology world criticized the ideas promoted by psychologists like Buss, who study and make assertions on “mating” behaviors, as misguided and misogynistic.  

Buss told the Daily Dot via email he does not believe his book is misogynistic nor “incel-adjacent.” 

“I hope no one would claim that it is misogynistic to say that men are, on average, taller than women or have stronger upper body strength. … While those established sex differences pertain to ‘abilities,’ the strategies of human mating referred to pertain not to abilities, but rather to ‘preferences.’ It is a scientific fact beyond any reasonable doubt that men and women differ in their mate preferences. Men tend, on average, to prefer younger women and place a greater premium on physical appearance. Women, on average, prefer somewhat higher status and potential mates who have resources or resource-potential, and also men who are a few years older than they are. We may not like these evolved sex differences. I personally don’t like them and wish they did not exist. But they do exist, and they are universal,” Buss said. 

Buss described his book as pointing out the “best scientific evidence” available regarding human mating and said he documented his findings in a study across 37 cultures with a sample size of 10,047 people. However, he said none of this “justifies misogyny or man-hating” and urged the Daily Dot to hear from his female graduate students. 

Buss said he can understand why the TikToker’s experience would be unsettling, considering the kinds of sexual violence women face. He said he thinks professional drivers should be aware of these dangers and the fears women have. 

“My personal view is that the driver’s behavior was unprofessional. Professional drivers have a responsibility to create a safe environment for their customers. Women traveling alone in a car with an unknown male can be unnerving by itself,” Buss said. “Playing audio books that deal with potentially upsetting topics strikes me as very unprofessional and interpersonally insensitive.”

Viewers of Lape’s video pointed to the pressures women face to stay silent in order to protect themselves from potentially violent retaliation. 

“As much as I hate to say it, staying silent probably kept you safe here. Be well!” one user commented. 

“Silence was the best option in this situation love, as sad as it is,” another replied. 

“He’s doing it on purpose to provoke you. Don’t take the bait!” a third advised. 

“There’s no way that wasn’t done to purposely make you uncomfortable. Please make a complaint,” a fourth urged.

As previously reported by the Daily Dot, Uber has faced multiple lawsuits, some of which are ongoing, regarding sexual harassment and assault. One recent case merged over 80 individual sexual violence cases into one. 

With the publication of its 2022 Safety Report in June, Uber promoted its investments into passenger safety, including an in-app option to share trip details with trusted contacts and a “Text-to-911” feature to help passengers quickly reach emergency services. Uber also touted it partners with sexual violence prevention groups and said on its website it conducts vehicle and criminal background checks on its drivers. 


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