What’s gender got to do with parking space?

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

“Women hold up half the sky.”
“Women drivers are like stars in the sky. You can see them but they can’t see you.”

THE praise for women, affirming gender equality, is attributed to Mao Zedong of China where, an Agence France Presse story says, a debate is raging over alleged sexism when a mall provided larger parking space for women drivers.

Mall owners said women have poor vision and can’t park easily on narrow spaces, thus the 30-cm.-wider slots, marked out in pink and labeled “reserved for women.”


Internet chatters howled, scoring sex bias and “cliched” thinking. Interestingly, only few Chinese women protested, probably appreciating mall owners’ action but not wanting to reject the gender defense.

At least two Cebu City malls have avoided a similar situation by making parking slots more than wide enough for any driver, male or female. What they could’ve scrimped on space is compensated by no complaints over dents on vehicles and not having to provide parking assistants.


Here, stereotyping drivers is not totally absent. A slow car ahead of you? “An idiot, a woman, or a senior.” A fast car overtaking and cutting in? “A maniac, a woman in a rush, or a drunk senior.”

You curse or yell but the other driver can’t hear you. Gender or whatever insensitivity won’t do damage to others as long as you keep it to yourself.

By the way, they don’t have that China-type controversy in Saudi Arabia, where a de facto ban on women drivers is what has made the female population restive.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2014.


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