Commentary

Woman at the Steering Wheel, Constant Danger, A Myth or a Reality

Machismo has dragged itself to the present and one of its manifestations is given when driving a car. The famous phrase, “woman at the wheel, constant danger”, is undoubtedly a macho way of showing superiority of men versus women. The vast majority of men in Cusco say that women have lower abilities than men and are more clumsy at developping this activity. However this famous phrase is far from any reality.

Since I grew up with brothers in a society where machismo is still very strong, I’ve heard this phrase over and over: “woman at the wheel, constant danger”. Every time I’ve seen a woman sit in the driver’s seat of a car, it seems this prejudice is still present not only in men but also in society, a society that unconsciously keeps this prejudice alive.

On some occasions I have seen women who drive taxis. In my opinion they drive very well, but because of people’s prejudices they wear a cap. They lift their hair as if they were male or they wear gloves so as not to be recognised. They do this because there are many people, and among them women, who when seeing a woman driving a taxi prefer not to get into that car because they fear they will not arrive safely to their destination. Or, if they get into the taxi, all the time they are watching how she handles car lest she do some maneuver that could put their lives at risk.

Woman Driving a Taxi in Lima (foto : El Comercio)
Woman Driving a Taxi in Lima (foto : El Comercio)

When a woman is at the wheel the men are irritable. If a woman takes a few seconds to make a maneuver they start to sound their horn with impatience and, when passing by your side, they look at you through the window and yell at you “you had to be a woman”. They feel they drive much better simply because of their sex.

Fortunately, this erroneous myth that men are better drivers than women is becoming increasingly discarded. Since women women face needs that arise in society, they take driving courses to obtain their license, in order to drive and not only depend on the man and on his time and his availability to take you to the place you want. Nowadays it is not very expensive to buy a car, especially if it is used. It makes a woman more independent. We no longer live in olden times. Today women play a very important role in society and we have the same opportunities as men. We have to keep fighting to end machismo.

In conclusion I will say that there are women who drive well and others who do not. The same thing happens with men. There is no truth to the saying, “woman at the wheel, constant danger”. This phrase was created by men and part of society as a way to show superiority that in the end is totally false, because, in my opinion, women are more cautious when driving a vehicle and are considered as a group of lower risk compared to men in terms of driving a car.

We need to keep struggling to erradicate gender stereotypes from our homes, shools, media, and especially from ourselves. This note is simply one exampe of the stereotypes that do violence to women and must be changed.

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