By Indu Balachandran/Deccan Herald
“If your wife wants to learn driving, don’t stand in her way…” A burst of laughter filled the hall. I was at a stand-up show, and despite some feminists who frowned at this gender-stereotypical joke, the delivery of this line had us clapping — men, and women alike.
“Well, my wife recently took a crash course in driving…” the comic went on, to even more laughs. Yet it’s understandable that women seldom find it funny hearing sexist taunts against female drivers. In fact, statistics by leading fact-finders show that ladies being lousy drivers is a myth. Women are generally way more cautious on roads, besides hating to bribe cops over fines. Accident rates and road fatalities involving women drivers are significantly lower when compared to male drivers around the world.
Eager to know more about fender-benders and the genders, I started paying closer attention to who keeps their cool on the road, particularly in Bengaluru’s horrendous traffic. I also began noting down driving wisecracks by male buddies, gal pals, and comedians. “We bumped into some old friends yesterday. My wife was driving…” Our stand-up guy at the show was getting plenty of chuckles. But the next comic to take the stage, a lady, decided to give it back. “My husband is a careful driver,” she began. “He always slows down when going right through a red light.” Applause! She went on: “For women, especially short ones like me, driving is an extension of our legs, to reach the pedals. For men, cars are an extension of their manhood; oh we all know that one about the size of a man’s car being inversely proportional… etc etc right?” Deafening applause!
Driving us crazy
While men and women continue to drive each other up the wall in many aspects of life, male chauvinism regarding lady drivers has been the clichéd norm since the invention of the wheel.
They’re also convinced women don’t have the brawn to change a flat tyre, nor the brain to understand car parts. The story is told of the wife who came home, carless, and said to her husband “Oh the car? I abandoned it, as some water entered the carburettor and it stalled…” “But you don’t even know what or where the carburettor is,” he exclaimed. “Well, it did. It happened when I accidentally reversed the car into the swimming pool at the club…”
Meanwhile, I knew there’d be a laugh or two with my good friend Maddy, whose wife had recently got her driving license. Apparently, a cop had caught her missing a road sign and demanded to see her licence. “I can see from here that you should be wearing glasses”, began the cop, looking at her photograph. “I have contacts…” replied Maddy’s wife. “I don’t care who you know, madam! You still have to pay a fine…”
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