Gendered Driving

Gender stereotypes affect all parts of our lives. This includes unconscious biases at work, and the Hidden Curriculum at school. It even affects how we drive and where we park.

This article from the online TIME magazine reports that a Chinese mall has separate, larger parking spaces for women. These parking spaces are pink, 30 cm bigger than normal spaces, and are “respectfully reserved for women” because of a local belief that women are bad at driving. The mall managers said that they wanted to “make it easier for their female customers” by giving them extra room.

Is this sexist? Some might argue that it is sexist towards men because it gives women privilege just because of their gender. Julia Wood (2013) might argue that it is sexist towards women, because it stereotypes and treats them like children, who are “less mature, less competent, less capable, than [male] adults (p. 236)”. These large, pink parking spaces reinforce the stereotype that women are bad drivers, and that women depend on male mall managers to “protect” them.

Is it oppressive? According to Frye (2000), we would have to look at the whole social system, culture and history of China to see if this situation is a part of system of oppressing women (p 12 – 13).

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Gendered Driving

  1. While reading this post, I could not believe that the parking issue in China is real. Saying it is sexist towards both genders is true, and I agree with the support on both sides. However, I have to agree with the idea that it is mainly sexist towards women. Handicapped people have parking sports reserved for them because they are physically incapable of walking a longer distance (or walking at all). By giving women a larger space for parking than men, it is basically a slap in the face to us. Apparently men are gifted in this department and women are “physically incapable” of parking in a normal sized spot? I found this to be very offensive towards women and am thankful to not have to live in a society where this is a reality.

  2. Part of me is mad at this article and the other is not. The side that is mad, is because I get comments on my driving all the time. Not that I am a bad driver but I have had an accident and people like to pick on me. The side that is not mad is mostly because of my dad. He is a Virginia Beach police officer and I asked him how many “accidents” happen in parking lots, he stated “a lot mostly by women”. With out even asking how many by women he felt the need to state the fact. This got me thinking maybe larger spaces are really needed. Now to have them painted pink and only reserved for women is ridiculous by I see how bigger spaces could be helpful. I feel like this article is a little sexist but at the same time could be used as a learning tool to make parking spaces in general larger.

  3. After reading this about parking spaces being bigger because “women are bad drivers”, it reminded me of an ad that I found while looking at old, seemingly quite sexist ads. It is an ad for Volkswagen, convincing men to buy their wives that car, because when the woman wrecks it, it won’t “cost the man too much” because of how cheap the VW parts are and reasons such as that. I just find it to be interesting because the whole ad plays off the fact that women are bound to wreck the vehicle. Although this is not an “advantage” for women as the parking spaces are, its still a blatant example of sexism towards women, and their driving abilities.

    You can find the ads here, and its just a few scrolls down the page:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *