I’ve been on holiday over the summer. And despite the fact that this isn’t really a personal blog, I’m going to share a couple of things. These aren’t thoughts about how other people treated me (the French were charming, thank you very much) but about how I saw myself.
We were in France for a week — me, Wotsit, and a bunch of friends. We fitted ourselves into two hire cars and rented a five-bedroom farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Six of us had driving licenses, and so we were three drivers per car. And it struck me as odd that the other five drivers were all male, and all the non-drivers were female. I was the only woman who could drive.
I don’t know whether it was simply a statistical anomaly that it worked out that way, or whether there is more pressure put on young men to learn to drive. I grew up in the countryside, and absolutely everyone learnt to drive. (Except a friend of mine who decided that she’d just move into the city as soon as she possibly could.) I do know that the fact that I was the only woman driving made me feel a little odd.
I somehow felt that I had to prove that I could drive just as well as the others, if not better. The problem here is that I don’t drive very often. Oh, I’m naturally good at spatial awareness, and I can do a three-point-turn in the very tightest of tight spaces, but in order to be a really decent driver you need practice. Two of our party commute by car, and it showed.
It wasn’t that our friends did or said anything to make me think that they considered me a poor driver, or that they had even noticed that I was the only woman driving. (Although, with the seat being put that far forward, it was hard to miss this last fact…)
The voice telling me that I needed to prove that women are good drivers was mine. It’s sometimes very hard to escape social stereotypes.
(Part two tomorrow…)