I am a woman driving a big car, and the kind of misogyny I face, not only on roads, but also from my family, makes me very angry!
“Beta, don’t you think you should travel by cab?” my dad ventured, hesitant at first, firm later and positively relentless thereafter. I had been listening to him and my mother moan and crib about their precious daughter driving a massive Tata Safari around the city on a daily basis, for more than two years now.
It also doesn’t help that after successfully manoeuvring my car all the way from ITPL to Kormangala three times a week during peak hours, for two years has still not instilled enough trust for my parents to even consider taking a 3 km ride with me.
Every single time I venture to take them shopping or other chores, they respond as if I have suggested taking them to a brothel.
The vehemence in their voice when they say, “Nahee! We are not coming in your car. We would rather go by cab.” makes me believe that they probably think I run over three men and two kids every time I take my car out. And the only reason I am not rotting in prison or hell; is because of the Thursday fasts and pujas that my mom religiously keeps.
Having witnessed such lack of faith, for so long, (even from my closest family!) I began contemplating; Why?! Why such distrust for women drivers, especially for the ones who drive an SUV?
Let’s get this straight, people still need a lot of conditioning to get used to a woman driving. The ones who actually are used to women driving, expect her to be in a hatchback, not a sedan, definitely not an SUV, and God help her if she dares to drive a jeep.
Because she is a woman, and of course she would look good in, you know, those cute little toy cars that are electric blue, green, or white, or yellow. If it is a pink Reva, it is even better. All those post retirement uncles and aunties would give you looks of approval, even smile at you and call you “Beta.”
I once had one of those post retirement uncles, taking a walk in the residential society that I live in, stare at me right from the time I drove in to the time I parked my car. The stare carried such vehemence and disapproval, I almost panicked that I had run over a stray animal. The death stare even continued until I stepped out of the car and walked into my building.
Let’s talk about what happens when a man takes a U-Turn v/s a woman taking a U-Turn on a narrow road.
The traffic waits patiently waits for a man driving an SUV to take a couple of reverses, adjust the car perfectly and then zoom, zoom, zoom away.
I once had a young man travelling by auto, carrying a laptop bag, smirk at me when I was trying to take a U-turn at an especially narrow road.
When I drive cross-country, all those Swifts and Santros driven by boys, follow me peacefully until the driver behind realizes that it is a woman driving. Suddenly they can’t wait to overtake; constant horns, overtaking from left, right, under my car, over my car, they try everything possible. Sometimes I am benevolent and I let them go, only to be graced with leering gestures from all those boys.
Well, yeah, you overtook an SUV driven by a woman, doesn’t make you any more of a man, you know!
Why just the other day I was driving my other vehicle, a Mahindra Thar. I had a male colleague sitting next to me.
And at a signal this little boy on a scooter turns to his dad, who was riding it and says, “See Daddy, a girl is driving a Jeep.”
Wow, accepting that a woman drives a big car was almost like swallowing elephant droppings for that father.
As I write this, I am honestly absolutely sick and tired of repetitive words like roads, U-turns, horns and gestures. Some of them don’t even have alternatives in thesaurus. Plus it is hard to remain angry at people I am not going to see again, probably ever, except my parents of course.
So, I honestly hope someday, roads will be harassment free for women, and someday I can drive my parents around without them thinking I am taking them to a brothel.
Become a premium user on Women’s Web and get access to exclusive content for women, plus useful Women’s Web events and resources in your city.
Published here earlier.
Image source: flickr