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Yes I am a woman and I am not a bad driver!
Yes I am a woman and I am not a bad driver!
(Repetition is required for male readers if any!)
I have been driving my car independently in plains, valleys, mountains, highways and city roads for last eleven years. Before that I rode scooter for about fourteen years and I went to school riding my bicycle. So I have about thirty years of road experience as ‘woman driver’. In all these years I have never hurt myself or my vehicle or fellow humans or animals on the road. Neither have I lost my way and always managed to reach home in decent time. But of course all my clean record can’t get myself rid of the tag ‘woman driver’ which is euphemism for ‘bad driver’. Neither can all the surveys conducted by insurance firms proving women are safer drivers than men can wash off the unfair cliché from my gender!
There are only two types of drivers on the road – one are ‘women drivers’ and rest are drivers who maybe good or bad or crazy. No one ever says that "Look that rude man- driver overtook from the wrong side” “ See this crazy man- driver jumped the lanes again”, “ This color-blind man driver ignored the red traffic light”, “this confused man-driver has mistaken the congested road with three schools on it as race track” or “a careless man driver has bumped my car from behind”. No we never hear that. They can kill their fellow men due to road rage but they will never mention ‘man-driver’. But the moment you see a car badly stuck in traffic or parked few inches not straight, the instant conclusion drawn is “Ah! Must be a ‘woman driver’! What else can you expect?” Who knows? Maybe the driver is a male with beard in front and long hair tied in pony at the back!
So call me a sexist or call me by bigger abuse a ‘feminist’, I am coining a new word ‘man-driver’. Now ‘men-driver’ come in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of attitudes, egos and personalities. Here I am categorizing ‘men-driver’ vis-à-vis their reactions on seeing the fairer sex behind the steering wheel.
1. Teasing Racer ‘Man-Driver’
Now this ‘man-driver’ is cruising on highway at 60 km/hr. You have been driving at 80 km /hr so happen to overtake him unintentionally. He happens to notice that you are a ‘woman-driver’ behind the wheels. He suddenly put the weight of his manliness on the accelerator and zooms past you with the speed of his ego. His sneer challenges your presence on the road. You never nurtured the ambition to be Michael Schumacher in this life or next so you calmly drive at your speed of 80 km/hr. You give him the benefit of doubt that maybe this ‘racer-driver’ behaves like this irrespective of gender bias but then comes the twist. About two kilometers ahead you spot the same vehicle cruising at 40 km/hr waiting for you! Now you have two choices-either you drive behind him at snail slow speed and give him the pleasure of putting you in your ‘rightful place’ while ogling at you in his rear view mirror! Or you overtake him again. But if you do so he will again zoom past you with the speed of his ego…….. And wait for you to catch up two kilometers down the highway….
Now this type doesn’t like females on this planet so obviously he disapproves them behind the steering wheel. The moment he sees you he wears sourest expression on his face, his brow knit in angry creases. You see his mouth grumbling at your perceived mistakes. You hear him honking incessantly contributing furious decibels to the environment. He literally wants to clear you away from his sight by the cacophony. You obviously can’t because there is a long traffic jam ahead. You have no choice but to tune him out from your ears and thoughts.
3. Dominating Husband ‘Man-Driver’
This kind is the product of deep rooted patriarchy. He believes that woman driving the car is the biggest threat to the power structure of family and society. Or he is just worried that if females start driving how will he claim extra comfort and care at home which he feels entitled to after enduring ‘stress of driving’. He knows that in all probability this female driver will go home and immediately play with her kids or help them with their homework or prepare food for her family. More often than not this man-driver will have a woman sitting on the co-driver seat, maybe his wife. She will nod in perfect agreement with the unfair judgement he passes on drivers of fairer sex. She is either too scared of him or too submissive. She probably wants to pat her husband’s fragile male ego at your expense. She doesn’t realize that she is being ‘Jai Chand’ to her gender.
4. Surprised Ignorant ‘ Man-Driver’
This kind is found mostly in rural or remote areas. He looks at you as he would look at a Yeti in zoo. He finds it equally incredulous or probably more to see a woman driving the car. He may keep staring at you till you vanish from his sight. The surprise factor is multiplied many folds if you have your husband or a male member sitting on the co-driver seat.
5. Comic Sexist 'Man-Driver'
Their whole sense of humor revolves around making fun of woman. These are the ones responsible for creating all those female driver jokes, the ones we women too laugh at and forward to our friends as a proof of our own good sense of humor. After all the best humor, they say is laughing at oneself. But think, if we had such good sense of humor wouldn’t be creating our own sexist jokes at male’s expense or even at our own. Why should we forward and re-tell their jokes ridiculing females? By the way their next biased cliché after ‘Women are bad drivers’ is ‘Women have bad sense of humor’.
6. Patronizing Advising 'Man- Driver'
These ‘man –drivers’ grudgingly agree that you do drive well but in the same breath they criticize you for something minor. Like just when you drop him at his destination after driving three hundred kilometers without a glitch he may just point out that fifty kilometers before you overtook a bus a little too closely and should be careful in future. Never mind that he himself owns the record of crashing his yet another car headlong every other year in drunken stupor!
7. Helpful Chivalrous ‘ Man- Driver’
They are the ones who treat you as damsel in distress the moment you pull the rear gear. They will help you to back your car, to park it. They will give direction unsolicited as soon as you roll down your window panes. The only thing they may not do is move their own car parked in your way causing you trouble in the first place.
8. Superstitious ‘Man-Driver’
These ‘man-drivers’ are scared of your presence on road behind the steering wheel maybe more than the black cat which crosses his path. Probably he read and believed all those jokes ‘sexist comic man-driver’ circulated on the social media. He believes in the urban legends too. And ‘Woman-driver’ is an urban legend to him. He blames you for everything bad going on in the universe- bad roads, potholes, traffic jams, road accidents, misbehaved kids, broken homes, rising divorce rates, stock market crashing, rise in terrorism , cause of next world war…….anything, you get the drift! You are the symbol of ‘Kalyug’ for him
9. Own Spouse ‘Man Driver’
Now this is your own spouse squirming on the co-driver seat. He has lost many bitter battles at home before vanquishing his driving seat to you. He fearlessly place his life in hands of his friends who have the passion for mixing drinking and driving. He has not suffered a single scratch because of your driving but still his legs are constantly pressing the imaginary clutch, brake and accelerator. You have to hit his hand to keep it off your gear box. He is probably chewing his tongue so as not to comment on correct speed for changing gear for the fifth time in last fifteen minutes or blinking the indicator light nano second before you actually do. He is also trying his best to be nonchalant at the expressions he is receiving from the different types of ‘man –drivers’ on the road. He knows exactly what they are thinking! His only solace is pulling down the window glass and smokes a much needed relaxing cigarette or make phone calls to his out of touch friends!
10.Normal ‘Man- Driver’
They are the ones who treat you equally. They see you as another person driving the car and are oblivious to your gender. They do not ridicule you as woman driver, do not make fun of you or judge you unfairly. They are the ones who upheld your equal claim on roads as they upheld your claim on half the sky. Where are these kinds of male driver found? In our imaginations… and in our dreams… I have ambition to groom one such normal male driver in my son. My eleven year old son who I have been driving safely since before he was born and then to school, tennis court, shooting range, martial arts classes etc. God forbid if I hear ‘Woman driver’ from his mouth with its inherent negative connotation. I will certainly put him in car , drive miles and miles and drop him off in the middle of nowhere to walk back home!
Dear readers do share your comments and I am waiting to know about the eleventh category of ‘Man-driver’ if you know of one!