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‘I Am A Girl, And Yes I Drive Well. So Mind Your Own Business’

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“Riya, where are you? Come fast. We’ll get late for the event.”

“Yaar, I was stuck at home. Will be at your place in 5 minutes.”

And she arrived after 15 minutes, driving her Activa slowly but carefully.

“Are your 5 minutes over? You can never be on time. Oh sorry, I forgot. It takes time to cover the distance between our homes at 10 kmph speed,” I teased her.

“Mom called me back at home for urgent work. And by the way, I don’t drive as slowly as you are pretending.”

“Haha, OK, I said it much low, I know you drive at 20 kmph, but I hope you didn’t hit somebody while coming here,” I giggled.

“Aren’t we getting late? Can we have this shit talk on our way, while you sit behind me, and I drive?”

“What? Are you crazy? We need to reach the venue, not the hospital. Let me drive, please.”

“I drive safely,” she raised her voice.

“Haha, when did I deny it? But we need to cover 10 kms in 20 minutes or so. Someday, when we’ll have to cover 2 kilometres in 30 minutes, I’ll definitely ask you to drive,” I teased her again.

“What the fuck? Why isn’t this car moving ahead? Pakka aunty chalarahi hongi.” We were already late for the event and a car just ahead of us wasn’t moving even when it was a green light.

Riya was already fuming in anger, since I didn’t let her drive, and my comment on the driver ahead (without knowing whether the driver was male or female) was enough for her to burst out all that anger in mid-way.

“Idiot! Are you some astrologer to assume that the driver must be a female? If the car isn’t moving, that’s the fault of the driver, not their gender. Can’t you understand this simple logic that gender has nothing to do with driving skills?”

Do you know all women and their driving skills? Oh, forget about women, are you sure all men drive the vehicles nicely and safely.

Females can’t drive well. They are just there to sit behind a male driver on two-wheeler or besides him in a car. If a male driver can’t avoid the little bumps, that’s because there are too many bumps on the road to avoid. If a female driver can’t avoid it, you guys stare at her, as if that was a “hole of death”.”

I was used to of seeing her becoming ‘violent’ on such issues at home or when we are alone, this was the first time when she was transforming into an intellectual politician in the middle of the road.

Just like “Sun rises in the east” and “honesty is the best policy”, we have created another universal truth – “Women can’t drive well”. And while we have debated a lot about other universal truths, this remains static.

Same as men, women also feel the same fear when they first hold a steering wheel. I still remember how my father would teach my sister the ABC of driving, and would comment on every turn and brake. Every time she would drive over a bump on the road, I would amusingly say – “Girls can’t drive.”

Shouldn’t we blame our upbringing? Baby girls are given dolls and baby boys are given cars to play with. And we have all accepted this silently – girls don’t know how to drive while every boy is a driver by birth. As if every boy is Michael Schumacher! Here are a few other stereotypes about women who drive that we need to get rid of.

1. Not every girl applies mascara or lipstick by looking in the rear-view mirror

Just because, that hot college girl reached for a lipstick by seeing in a rear view mirror in an entire jam of cars, doesn’t mean every girl does so. Women understand that a rear-view mirror is not a decorative accessory.

2. Not every girl rashly overtakes her vehicle

Before abusing, racing or pushing her off the road to win a non-existent race, understand that overtaking isn’t a sensible thing, and that everyone should understand. Let’s not make overtaking a manly thing. Assuming that a girl should always give you side because you are a dude on 200cc bike driving at a speed of 80 kmph, your thinking is wrong, not her driving!

3. Did all boys come out of mother’s womb with car keys hanging from fingers?

No, each one of us made mistakes, hit other cars while taking turns or reversing the cars, every one of us fell from two-wheelers at least once, and every one of us heard those abusive honking and comments. When commenting about her slow driving, put yourself in same shoes, and remember your speed when you just learnt driving.

“Second” sex isn’t fit to drive? They can’t take the vehicles in a reverse direction smoothly? Are you a certified regional transport officer to determine whether she is fit for driving or not?

Females have started driving public transports also. A whole lot of metro in New Delhi is accountable to female drivers and they have been successfully doing the job. Boeing 777 was driven recently by the youngest female captain. It’s high time for men to break the mentality and realise a simple fact – gender shouldn’t decide driving skills, skills themselves should.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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