Pink, Extra-Wide Parking Spaces For Women Drivers Are Catching On
First Germany, then South Korea, and now China. Unfortunately, the pink parking space trend seems to be catching on: A shopping mall in China has painted its own pink parking spots designated for women, and just as they did in Tribeg and Seoul, the gender-restricted spaces have sparked a whole spectrum of emotions. From amused to appreciative to downright furious, Chinese citizens have taken to Weibo — the Chinese version of Twitter — to voice their opinions.
The World Metropolis Center shopping mall in Dalian, a city in northeast China, recently painted 10 pink female-designated spots into its parking lot. As you might expect, the spots are wider than the regular parking spaces, by about 30 centimeters, and there is obvious indication that they are for women only. Besides the bubblegum-pink paint, the spots are marked with the words (translated from Chinese) "Respectfully reserved for women."
While the pink parking spots, which strike a remarkable resemblance to the ones in Seoul, may be an emulation of its precursors, the concept of female-only parking is not a new one in China. In 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported on the five-star Wonder Mall in Shijiazhuang, in Hebei Province, which has a parking garage that essentially reduces women to pre-reading-level children.
In addition to parking spaces so wide that two adjacent cars can both have their doors open without touching, the garage's sections are indicated by pictures of animals from the Chinese zodiac instead of numbers (because we all know how difficult it is for women to remember numbers past single digits), and there are dancing parking assistants who help women park. You read that right: dancing assistants who help women park.So, in a country where some people apparently view women as helpless simpletons, how did these new parking spaces fare?
According to the WSJ, one Weibo user asked, "Isn't that insulting females' driving ability?" while a Twitter user said, "Not sure if I should laugh or cry."
According to a CCTV News report, Weibo user @Silver_Wave wrote:
If, after formal training, there is no big performance difference between male and female drivers, then this kind of ‘letting the women park the car more conveniently’ or enjoy ‘VIP’ service is suspicious and unfair. If most women really have difficulties parking a car and are bad at driving, then this kind of care should exist. But most people think this will dwarf female potential.
Not everyone sees it as an insult, however. "We just wanted to make things easier for women, who make up most of our customers," Yang Hongjun, a female manager at the World Metropolis Center, told Agence France-Presse. "It's not an insult to women at all."Meanwhile, some decided to use the opportunity to make some tasteless jokes about the very stereotype these parking spaces are underscoring. "It's not necessary at all. If the problem is bad driving skills, just send them back to driving school. This (women-only parking space) is a waste of public resources," @weiweihuaerkai wrote on Weibo.
The mixed reactions are very similar to the ones that followed the parking spaces in Seoul, seen above, which ranged from "Love it!" to "SO MUCH FOR EQUALITY." In Seoul, the female-only parking spots were part of a citywide initiative called "Women Friendly Seoul," which also included female-oriented toilets, high-heel-friendly pedestrian walkways, and lower overhead straps on buses.
While some parts of the world are earnestly trying to make life easier for the fairer sex, even if it is to the detriment of gender equality and logic, the city of Tribeg, Germany, had very different intentions.
Gallus Strobel, the mayor of Tribeg, admitted that the whole thing was a publicity stunt."Everyone in Triberg thinks it is a joke," he told ABC News. "We looked at the two parking spaces and we said, 'They could be dangerous for your car,' so at the same time, we decided to make them for men, and then give 12 others for women.... It’s a marketing idea and it works. I cannot work this week with all this publicity."Images: CCTV News/Facebook, Marshall Astor/Flickr, Wikipedia