WiC has mentioned Mao’s much-quoted saying that women “hold up half the sky” before. But in the eyes of Beijing’s police, they are as likely to be holding up half the city’s drivers too.
How do we know? Because they told us so via their official weibo account last week under a series of posts titled: “Women Drivers Please Take Care to Avoid These Mistakes.”
Top of the list was forgetting to release the handbrake. Then came failing to change gear properly, being too heavy on the brake or accelerator, and lacking a general sense of direction.
“The handbrake is only used for parking. However, lots of female drivers forget to release it, leading to more gas consumption,” the authors reminded their readers, in what they may have regarded as a handy tip.
In the same civic spirit they also cautioned that – “on their own” – some women “can’t find places they have visited many times before”.
Along with wearing high heels and failing to tie their hair back properly, this often led to situations in which women are responsible for traffic accidents because they “spot their turning too late and swerve to make it”.
The points were even illustrated with a cartoon of a woman driving in large red stiletto shoes. Another image showed a female driver appearing to lose her cool as she tries to work out which direction to take.
Needless to say, plenty of female netizens were unimpressed by this blatant sexism – and even a few men too. “I like advice but is it necessary to make it based on gender? The treatment of male and female drivers should be equal!” one woman responded to the police’s post.
Another called it as she saw it. “Sexism!” she declared. “Official accounts should not be so biased.”
The police refused to apologise, saying that they would also post positive reports about female drivers in future, as well as negative ones about men.
Other netizens backed up the police claims. One of the most common gripes was about expensive cars being driven badly by beautiful young women. The general assumption was that they hadn’t bought the car themselves and they probably hadn’t passed a driving test.
Such prejudice isn’t helped by cases like the one in Ningbo this summer when a newly qualified driver was being taught by her husband how to reverse her Lexus SUV into a parking space. Pressing too hard on the accelerator, she pinned her spouse against the back wall of the garage. Hearing his screams, the woman put her head out of the window and tried to move forward. But unfortunately she forgot to take the car out of reverse, crushing him and slamming herself against the side wall. Both of them died of their injuries.
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