How many times did you ever use the title of this column to answer a variety of questions:
This driver does not know how to park? Babae kasi.
This person is driving too slow! Babae kasi.
This person doesn’t know how to drive! Babae kasi.
In one of the Chicdriven Women Empowerment Expo seminars called Mazda Drives, we raised the issue on how this phrase sums up the stereotype of women being bad drivers.
It seems like everything that can go wrong on the road isn’t surprising, as long as it is a woman behind the wheel.
However, according to TRS founder and road safety advocate JP Tuason, in the countless seminars that he has conducted, these shortcomings are not exclusive to women drivers alone.
In short, stupidity on the road is not a gender issue but more of an attitude problem.
In those seminars, you would see more female hands showing genuine interest in keeping safe on the road. They tend to be more open to information and new learnings on how they can be better drivers.
In fact, when car shopping, women will be inclined to buy a car with better safety features and fuel mileage over something more flashy or in the higher performance spectrum. This shows that women are more environmentally aware and conscious of safety.
Gender sensitivity, though, does not stop with cars. Some advantages remain such as having doors opened for us, and men offering their seats, proving chivalry is still alive.
But we suffer disadvantages such as catcalling and being shamed for the way we dressed.
We are now at a point in history when gender roles have become blurred. We still feel the double standards.
Men who become housebands are regaled as sensitive or courageous, while women who fulfill the role of breadwinner are shamed for not sacrificing a career over her kids or family.
We made choices that shape our lives, and we are in the best position to understand why we made those decisions.
If I chose to have five kids, but still make my husband my priority, that’s my choice.
If Joey Mead decided to stand by her love, that is her choice.
If Marian Rivera chose to breastfeed anywhere and anytime her daughter needed to, that is her choice.
Whether we agree or not, people don’t deserve to be shamed for their decisions, because it’s their choice.
One of the core themes of the Expo this year is to “respect our differences.” It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with another’s opinion, but if you have a different one you need to regard the other with respect.
You shouldn’t call someone stupid because he or she has a different opinion from you.
Same goes when on the road. Just because a woman’s driving style is different from men’s, it doesn’t mean one is better; it only indicates they are different. What you need to do is to show respect to your fellow road user by being more courteous, considerate and more disciplined.
Yes, some drivers lack education and awareness of road rules, but calling them stupid will not make them a better driver. So instead, why don’t you show them how it is done by being a good example.
So the next time you feel the need to say “Babae kasi,” think: Are you saying this out of respect or using it as a scapegoat for your shortcoming as fellow road user and human being?
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