Have We Really Made Room for Women in Car Culture?

Perhaps we've come a long way since the days of, "women are inherently bad drivers," and perhaps we've even begun to recognise that women are, indeed, quite capable of being motorheads. Yet, it seems that even in what appears to be the most accepting of spaces, there are still few women to be found. Why?

I have to be honest, I've been pretty pleased with the commenters on Jalopnik and OppositeLock. In general, you guys (and here I definitely mean men) are pretty awesome. As one opponaut recently told me, "there are so few women, we can't afford to be misogynistic." Not that I think there was the implication that if more women were present, misogyny would be rampant, but rather was the recognition that male gearheads need to be even more careful not to alienate and marginalise what few female car enthusiasts are present.

The one Jezzie I know who loves cars and has made cars her living, MitsubiShe, isn't even really present that often. She probably lurks, but I've seen her comment like... Once. If asked to name the other women active on the Jalopnik group of Kinja blogs, I can't. I'm going to come up with a great big goose egg. And I think I know why.

Despite the genuine attitude expressed above, there are still some really misogynistic comments that appear. One out many comments, but at least one a day, and I'll toss out the further opinion that many comments while not overtly misogynistic do assume that women simply aren't even "out there." Not in the comments, and not in the wider car culture. But those are somewhat to be expected, we're still breaking down those invisible, insidious structures, but what I simply cannot abide...

There are casual, flippant comments about what cars should only be driven by women (a few days ago, it was the Honda Beat). There have definitely been comments I've called out that have hinted at the inability of women to do even the cursory level of maintenance on their cars. One a few months ago was from a dealership worker who mocked a woman for not being able to read and understand what her instrument panel lights meant, extending it to LOL WOMEN until directly confronted.

There are comments about how failure to do this or do that makes you more like a woman. Just as a very recent example I sort of got pissed at was the one in the The Ten Most Jalopnik Cars You Can Buy On A Minimum Wage Budget, regular Jalop, Buzz Killington said this about the MG MGB:

Here's a decent one for five grand. It's British, it's manual everything, parts are plentiful and cheap, and if you can't figure out how to fix this thing yourself you should get it over with and just buy yourself a bicycle and maybe a skirt.

Now, I can't say that I would relish the idea of doing any kind of car maintenance in a skirt. Truth be told, I only own two, and they're both for work (the in-office kind, not the writing-on-Gawker-Network kind), but let's be honest. That's not the point. Buzz was implying that if one can't even figure out how to fix the MGB, time to give up both one's gearhead card (get a bike) and one's man card (get a skirt). Seriously? Could we just not?

We've still got a problem, and maybe whatever room we've made isn't enough.

Image via Shutterstock.


Kat Callahan is a writer for Jezebel and currently the LGBT editor at Jezebel's LGBT+ subpage ROYGBIV. She can be reached @JezebelKat on Twitter. She likes Japanese and German cars, with her loyalties being to Honda and BMW. She currently drives a JDM 2000 Honda Logo Sportic TS (GA5).