According to a study conducted by the Population Reference Bureau, more than half of road accidents taking place globally are due to the recklessness and overconfidence of male drivers, all aged between 15 and 44! Let that sink in.
Now, women and wheels! I know we are not too deep into the 21st century yet, but in this age, these two ‘W’s are not expected to be so many men apart. Oops, sorry! I meant miles apart! When did it become a male-only domain? In our culture, there is a vast variety of ridiculous concepts regarding women when it comes to operating motor vehicles. The problem seems to originate from the mentality of the opposite gender (no surprises there).
Let’s dig in and find out the most common stereotypical impressions embedded in the male cerebrum for generations:
1. Women Suck At It:
Ah, come on, women do fine in the driver’s seat. They might (sometimes) put on mascara while driving. They are more likely to adhere to traffic rules; while the other sex tries to assert their dominance by speeding recklessly and unnecessarily. For all you know, your life can depend on a woman’s driving skills! Don’t you remember how Letty saved Brian?! (Too bad if you aren’t a Fast & Furious fan)
2. Chauvinism (again…):
So how did women get this reputation? One does wonder! I asked around a lot, and nobody really knew. All I got was, “Yar yehi suna hai hamesha” or “Aa jao race lga lete hein abhi”. Even an 8-year old boy who isn’t ready to let go of his tricycle yet, seems to think that driving is a men’s sport. Why? Because that is what he gets to hear. Did his dad teach him that?! I don’t know. But I hope he gets a chance to make up his own mind.
3. The Obvious Culprit:
So, there is an unusual road block ahead?
Zaroor koi bibi hi ho gi!
Ye bibi se hi hua ho ga!
Some driver breaks a signal?
Definitely bibi chala rai hai!
A car in the wrong lane?
Iss mein bhi bibi bethi hai pakka!
That is gender stereotyping at its worst. When a female driver is involved in an unfortunate road incident, our short-wired minds quickly jump to the conclusion that it must be the woman’s fault. I personally believe that women are decent drivers, with more consideration for regulations and road ethics.
4. Street Harassment:
Following after their cars or bikes; catcalling after them; staring at them for no reason at red lights are just a few example of what female drivers face in our country. I’m sure these activities hold their appeal. But did you know these are also various forms of street harassment? Do you have any idea how much discomfort this causes? Of course you don’t.
5. Speed Phobia:
Alright-maybe most women do not like to speed. But that does not stand true for all of them! A little action on the accelerator has a thrill like no other. And some women actually crave that. Like Anne Hall! She is a personal favorite from the 1950’s car racers. She and her sister, Mary Newton, were crazy about speed and were commonly known as the “Mad Newton Sisters”. Now, beat that, bruhhhh!
6. Automatic Vs. Manual:
I have overheard countless men suggesting that women should not opt for a manual vehicle. Naturally, some women prefer the luxury of automatic motor cars. But you know how in automatic transmission the car decides the gear shifting? Well, most strong and independent women prefer to make these decisions themselves! Don’t take away the fun by taking away that clutch.
7. Notorious Two-wheelers:
Now, this one is a Pandora box! Women drifting on motorcycles. It is still a taboo. Not surprisingly, female motorcyclists face more harassment than the car drivers. The catcalling escalates, the following becomes prolonged and this time the staring is paired with a disturbing grin. Most of the time, these women are driven by necessity and unfortunately end up enduring this obnoxious attitude. However, some women have a real panache for riding a two-wheeler and to that I say, more power to ya!
8. “Straddle, Woman, Straddle!”
Uptil the 18th century, Englishmen would sit astride on their riding horses while women would sit sideways. If you ask me, it was because men were just not clever enough to hold their balance while straddling the horse; they kept falling off! But, due to the decreasing morale among men, women were instructed to follow suit and sit improperly. Hence, equality was brought to the realm. On a serious note, women started riding horses with their legs on either side only after the 19th century.
Today, we have a striking resemblance with old England. Our women are just as courageous! So, when they sit on the passenger seats of motorcycles, we expect them to sit sideways. We really mind otherwise! Oh, and meanwhile, they are not supposed to fall off. They are extremely proficient at holding on to whatever they can reach.
However, every now and then, you can spot a woman sitting astride on a motorcycle, trying to avoid falling off. Like a cowardly man! It is upsetting how they violate the code of female gallantry.
9. The Rocket Science of Tires and Engines:
Are you all familiar with Shamim Akhtar, Pakistan’s first female truck driver? Yes, that’s right. Not a motorcycle, not a car, but a gigantic HTV. She drives for miles, transporting bricks around Islamabad. And guess what? Like any male truck driver, she knows how to look after those heavy engines and wheels. And if her truck ever breaks down in the middle of a road, she doesn’t panic. She jumps off the cab, pops open the engine and gets the problem fixed. Is that manly enough for you?!
I really don’t know what else to say to change your mind.
But I do wish more men were open-minded about it. Like Ranchordas Chachar! His dream girl was a dulhan riding a motorbike, remember?!