Being a girl in a desi society is a challenge in itself. From the subtle larkian ese nahi kehtein to the blatants like parh likh k kia karlena hai, there are all kinds of oppositions one can come across. It deeply saddens me. Not only just because how some people can be so unfair without paying any heed, but also because how the rest of us have made it okay to live with.
Now there are a lot of stereotypes affiliated specifically to girls. Where medicine seems to be the best profession for us, the same community has come to be known for being the worst drivers. Perhaps women are generally less capable as drivers. Perhaps they are not. It is not about what the fact is, but the impacts the stereotype is having.
The ‘Why’ part….
I personally know a lot of women who started driving. They did good for a while. But after a minor accident or two, they gave up. They gave up a step towards being independent. If we look into the matter of why they gave up, there can be a lot of reasons. The reason that strikes me the most is the idea that is penetrated in their minds by this society that women can’t drive. That driving is somehow this manly, tough job that can only be done by men.
The idea itself that women can’t drive properly is ridiculous. It makes me laugh. When you talk about women’s strengths, you talk about child birth, social burdens and the biasness they have to generally face. When you talk about women’s capabilities, you talk about how the girls usually score better in exams than guys, how women are making their way into sports, how they can be healing doctors and what not. The same women who face and challenge all these formidable areas of life, how can they not drive?
Although this involves degrading remarks and I should not mention this, but here goes for the sake of making a point: when I was learning to drive myself, one motivation I was fed on by my instructors was pointing out to random people who drove as paid drivers or old people, and saying things like ‘if the illiterates and the olds can the old can do it, you can do it too.’ So, yes, driving is not rocket science. It is a skill. It grows with practice.
The stage where most women give up is the learning stage. Where it is OKAY to make mistakes. The constant buzzing of ‘you will not be able to do it because most women cannot’ each time they make a mistake (which is learning equivalent of getting better) is what makes them give up. Yes, there is a chance that maybe an average man can drive better than an average woman. The positions will be opposite for other skills, we don’t know. But this doesn’t imply that every man is a better driver than every woman.
We, Pakistani women, grow up in a society where surviving is not easy. The least you can do after reading this article is to stop giving women ‘the sympathy stare’ when they can’t park or something. The least you can do is not discourage. There is a chance that a lot of women give up just because this stereotype exists. Let’s not be part of failing people. Let’s fail the ideas of failing.