There’s A Woman Behind The Wheel!

So gender jokes and misogynistic statements are now politically incorrect. But few people seem to have any qualms bitching about women drivers. These are usually accompanied by rolling of the eyes and a knowing nod (from the listener). I find it hard to believe that in this day and age of rational thought and scientific evidence, people can still think that a person may be a bad driver simply because she’s a woman. Driving is a skill (just like swimming, cooking, painting, mathematical thinking), one that involves a sense of direction, co-ordination, space, speed and timing in addition to knowledge of using the vehicle. How could it be gender-specific?

One thing that is notable though, is the harassment that is meted out to a woman on the road, even in a so-called ‘safe’ city like Mumbai. When I’m trying to cross the road, I find drivers often speed up in an attempt to ‘scare’ me. I know this because when I jump, they usually laugh and often even slow down just to show that they were just doing it for a joke. To aggravate the matter further, when I then try to cross, the behavior continues and my only alternative is to wait for the boors to pass before trying to cross.

A woman behind the wheel, faces a vehicular version of the same thing. I’ve seen drivers swing in alarmingly close, try to cut off, lane-change and blare their horns unnecessarily when they notice the person in the driving seat is a woman. I know all of these are visible to any driver; it just seems a lot more when the driver is female. As above, these are usually accompanied by jeers, laughter and even offensive gestures. So the average woman driver has to contend with bad roads, traffic jams, pollution and noise and above all that, harassment too. How many men would drive well if they were subjected to the same thing, every minute that they were on the road?

There is any number of bad drivers on the road and yes, some of them are women. But it’s preposterous to label the entire gender as being bad drivers. The accident rates don’t show any discernable differences between offenders of either gender. That makes me want to think women on an average, may be better drivers (and not worse) since they handle a more stressful situation with the same degree of success (or failure). Male chauvinists, think before you make a wisecrack about lady drivers – this time the joke’s on you.

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A version is also posted on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

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About IdeaSmith

IdeaSmith is the digital doppelganger of Ramya Pandyan (intrepid train-traveller and frequent spouter of post-midnight rhymes and rants). As IdeaSmith she battles obscurity and slays boredom with her stories about men, books, digitalia and Mumbai. She performs live and also blogs, tweets, Instagrams, Facebooks, +G’s, Youtubes and Goodreads all as IdeaSmith. Ramya is a blogger, digital storyteller and spoken word performer. She also runs a forum for aspiring writers called Alphabet Sambar. Tweet-bomb her at @ideasmithy.

Posted on February 2, 2011, in Battle of the sexes, Featured, Times, they are a-changing, Yahoo! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Male drivers invariably speed up and try to overtake a woman. And heaven forbid, if the woman overtakes him, people will hear his curses all the way to Timbuktoo.

  2. Here in the United States, female drivers are as common, if not more, than male ones. Maybe that has something to do with why I haven’t faced this issue? Or maybe it’s a lot more complex than that.

    • @Lakshmi: I guess it is just that. Street harassment, especially towards women who seem to be stepping out of the traditional ‘bhartiya nari’ mold is quite prevalent here. I’ve never been to the US so I don’t know if there’s no street harassment there but I’m guessing it exists in a different form.

      • Harassment exists for sure… maybe just not the way we come across it in India.

      • @Lakshmi: There’s a popular notion that chauvinism and the resulting harassment to women exists only in our part of the world. But from what I can see, this has been a worldwide phenomenon. The actions and words may differ but the attitudes remain the same.

      • Couldn’t respond to your comment below, hence responding here. Harassment stems from fear, insecurity, anger. Same emotions that exist on both sides of the Atlantic… expresses itself in one form in India, another form elsewhere.

      • @Lakshmi: That’s well-expressed. And about not being able to respond to the comment, is that tech issue (are you seeing an error) or do you mean because the comment replies are only nested to one level? Just checking that the comments mechanism is working properly.

      • About the comment, yeah. The ‘Reply’ link only exists below your first response to my comment. That threw me off last time. But I am guessing that isn’t an actual problem because my comment still showed up below yours… in the proper sequence, I mean.

      • @Lakshmi: Well, WordPress does give me an option to ‘nest’ further levels but discussions rarely go on to that level. It’s usually just one comment and my reply to it. I figured it would look messy, getting indented further and further. If I see more one-on-one conversations happening, I’ll increase that feature.

    • Well in India you have to understand that a lot of the men behind the wheel are from another class, drivers and cab-drivers and the like. They definitely do not want to be outdone by a woman. For that matter, even the seemingly “educated” lot jostle to outdo a woman if they see one.

  3. Well said. The thing that irks me the most is the so called liberal-educated mean who make passing references as jokes. I wonder how boneheaded one could be to not see the misogyny in their statements, and if confronted, just say “Its a joke yaar!”. I don’t think it is funny at all circumstances particularly when it has racial connotations – (desi women or Asian women drivers etc.).

  4. [This comment has been removed by the moderator, for trolling.]

  5. There r lots more thing which is missing. Male drivers of any age never confused wer to go at crossroad at same time ppl find mostly woman seems confused at cross. Also male never give wrong sidelight but many time i personally find that whoman is going left with giving left side 1 n than sudden take right turn. Also they dont know how to overtake vehicles n for breake vehicles, check that there is no one coming behind you. Also in some cash girls cross the road without watching that there r too much traffic coming with speed towards that side n than she feared and stop her vehicle in center of road. Thats y man when some vehicle mostly car is stops the traffic, we automatically think it would be lady n with our confidance wen we overtake that we found that we r right.

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