When Patriarchy Designs An Unsafe Car, It Questions Women’s Driving Skills

Shocking gender bias that women face in their daily lives because of how everything around us, including cars, are designed and built primarily using male data.

Priya and Arun recently bought a new car. A much bigger car than what they had previously. Naturally, they both wanted to share the excitement and show the new car to their respective parents. A few days later, they took a trip to Arun’s parents’ house and took them both on a drive. Priya was the one driving.

Arun’s father said, “Lovely car guys, really thrilled for you both! Priya, tomorrow what you can do is, tell Arun to stay at home and just drive the car without anybody sitting next to you. You see, at the moment, you have his moral support in this big car, but it’s better you practice driving alone so that you feel more confident.”

“No pa, she doesn’t need anybody’s help, she can drive just fine!” said Arun, coming to the rescue once again in his element as a feminist husband.

Priya too, being a modern feminist daughter-in-law of that family, voiced out saying “No, thanks uncle, I’ve never required Arun’s moral support, that too for driving.”

No one asks a man: if he is confident enough to drive?

Priya has been driving for almost 10 years. She is a woman who has no road fear. Priya has done many solo road trips across the country. Before Priya and Arun got married, they used to live in two different cities which were many hundred kilometres apart.

When she was dating Arun, she used to drive alone all the time to visit him. Over the last few years, Priya’s new job has required her to commute daily on busy highways, covering almost 80 km each day. Undeniably, Priya is a safe and experienced driver.

Despite ample experience in driving, she faces sexist comments that are simply unacceptable on every level. When she heard that comment, there was only one thing that was running back and forth in her thoughts.

When Arun bought a new car a few years back, no such comments were made, simply because HE IS A MAN. This is a typical example of an individual’s confidence completely unseen, because of being a woman.

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When patriarchy designs an unsafe car for women

If anyone wants to understand why women are actually the better drivers, I highly recommend the book, Invisible Women. A fascinating read and brilliantly written by Caroline Emma Criado Perez, a British feminist author, journalist and activist.

The book reveals the shocking gender bias that women face in their everyday lives because of how everything around us is designed and built primarily using male data.

In particular, there is a section that describes how women are 47% more likely than men, to be seriously injured in a car accident and 17% more likely than men, to die in the event of a crash.

Guess why?

It’s because female data is not taken into account whilst designing cars. Has anyone wondered why a lot of women prefer large 4×4 SUV cars? It’s because large cars provide better neck and lumbar support and improved visibility, which the majority of small to medium-sized cars don’t.

Has anyone wondered why women like to sit tightly close to the steering wheel whilst driving? No, it’s not because we want to cuddle the steering wheel. It’s because our feet do not comfortably reach the pedals. However, despite many such limitations, we manage to keep ourselves safe and responsible on the road AND drive in style!

Moreover, statistics clearly show that driving offences are committed more by men than women.

I’ve often wondered why a lot of women in our community lack confidence in many day-to-day tasks, one example being driving. However, it’s their male counterparts who are to be blamed. Even before a woman attempts something new, her confidence will be broken.

Their partners will often say, “Oh, you won’t be able to manage that, it’s too much for you, you’ll need help with it.”

Guess what?

Men can’t just come to that conclusion. If we really need help, we will be sure to ask, BUT NEVER ASSUME.

When patriarchy dominates and breaks a woman’s confidence

Male domination and ego are something which every woman in our patriarchal community must condemn and suppress. We must not hold back our emotions when experiencing sexism because if we remain silent, we continue to entertain such behaviour.

These are casual conversations between family members. The intention behind such comments is not malicious. There is no aggression or abuse involved. However, there is a strong element of unconscious gaslighting that needs to be addressed.

Men are not born with confidence. Confidence comes from exposure, experience, and practice, and that’s COMMON FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN.

Dear men, just a gentle reminder…we women, are not just capable. WE ARE ABLE!

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Image source: CanvaPro

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About the Author

Dr Shalini Moorthy

I'm Dr Shalini Moorthy. I was born in Chennai, India. I moved to the United Kingdom during my childhood as a first generation immigrant with my parents. I finished my PhD in 2019 in read more...

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