We already know that Saudi Arabia doesn't exactly think that women and cars go well together. Female drivers are discouraged by authorities there using arrests, fines, and even the threat of "weakened fertility." On Monday, a woman was reportedly arrested for driving her sick dad to the hospital in Saudi Arabia — and recent protests of the driving restrictions have led to arrests, not mention the infamous YouTube parody "No Woman, No Drive." But Saudi Arabia's not the only country that seems hell bent on preventing women from getting behind the wheel. Yes, apparently Chinese women are also "inadequate drivers" — but, fortunately, the Beijing police are there to help.
In an online lecture titled “Women Drivers Please Take Care to Avoid These Mistakes," the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau has kindly listed a few pieces of helpful advice, including: don't wear high heels; don't forget to release the hand brake; please do try to remember to switch gears; do tie your long hair back; and don't panic after an accident. (Beijing police seem to think this is an especially female problem; women "usually draw a complete mental blank, providing opportunities for criminals.")
Sorry, what was I saying?
So, why do the Chinese police have a problem with female drivers? While China may not exactly be feminist utopia, women certainly enjoy far greater freedoms there than in the Gulf States. Apparently, according to the Chinese government, this advisory is not about sexism — it's just a public health precaution. Women are simply more prone to accidents:
“Some women drivers lack a sense of direction, and while driving a car, they often hesitate and are indecisive about which road they should take,” claims one of the tweets on the police's Sina Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) account. “Once they realize their mistake, it’s too late, and they cause accidents by spinning the steering wheel in panic.”
According to the advisory, women also seem to be especially incompetent with overpasses and remembering the details of past driving experiences:
"This is particularly so when [they] drive on roads such as elevated bridges. They often can't find the entrance or the exit. They can't remember how to find places which they have been to several times."
The police went on to cite a report from state press which claimed that women cause 70 percent of all traffic accidents. (Because it's not sexism if you cite dubious research cited by a dubious news source.) Or if you illustrate the situation with a cartoon of a woman driving a car shaped like, we kid you not, a giant red stiletto shoe.
For some reason, Chinese women generally didn't take well to the helpful advice. "Many male drivers are no different. They think they are good at driving, but most car crashes are caused by men," said one Weibo user.
“Surely this official microblog is planning to devote its next postings to tips for male drivers?” tweeted another one.
Excuse me, I have to get back to my shoe-mobile now.