My Instructor Stared At My Legs And Refused To Let Me Drive Unless I Changed My Shorts

Posted on June 20, 2014 in Sexism And Patriarchy, Society, Taboos

By Mansi Bhatia:

A recent high school graduate with a passion for driving, I became a student of my local driving school, and a very adept one at that. The driving class usually began at 6:30 am and I used to wake up from my slumber and go for the class looking like my dreadful morning self. I never really worried about what I wore to class until my driving instructor reminded me one day.

He told me that I shouldn’t wear shorts to the class. He stared at my legs while casually telling me that I cannot wear shorts from now onward. His ‘shouldn’t’ very conveniently turned into ‘couldn’t’. He had the audacity to say that we still had time left in our session and that I should go up and change into something that’ll cover my legs up. I was still in a bit of shock and was trying to wrap my head around his words, and the only thing that came out of my mouth at that moment was “Why?’’. To which he unabashedly replied, “Because these are the rules, I will not let you sit in the car unless you change your pants and come.’’ All of which was said without maintaining eye contact.

I had been wearing the same pants to the previous classes and suddenly on the class 9, it became a rule! My insides wanted to pummel him with my fist right then and there, but my demeanour was still cool. I told him that I did not want to go up and change again and that since I was already there, what was the harm in letting me drive? He was adamant and refused to let me even sit in the car.

My temper turned up a notch and I began reasoning with him loudly. “How the hell does it matter if I wear shorts or skirts or jeans to class? How is that relevant to the driving skills I’m about to acquire?” I asked him. He had no answer to that.

I regained my calm and walked out of there. He was shocked to see me walking away as he had expected me to obediently change for him. He then told my mother that if I wanted to drive, I should do what he says. My mother walked away too and contacted the owner of the driving institute.

So here I am now, still in a tizzy and turning to the internet yet again hoping that somewhere someone hears my voice and makes some sense out of it. The thing that scares me the most is the ascendancy with which he told me, as if it to say that it’s an axiomatic fact that girls should not wear shorts to their driving lesson.

Who is he to dictate what I wear? Why shouldn’t I wear something comfortable if I so wish?

Featured image for representation only. Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Guess