Chicks in stick cars

At autocross today I had a fun encounter of the clueless kind. It has been a while since one of those. I was already getting worried. Nah, I wasn't.

Anyways, I was watching the others run with my buddy Tristan, and there was a guy there also watching, and he chatted us up. So Tris was telling him how he ran and what line he picked through the course etc. when I said something about how I took the slalom, and this guy goes "Oh, you run too?" With such a surprise in his voice and on his face.

And I say "Why yes, I do. Even though I don't have a penis."

This is when he got all defensive.

I only thought "gotcha."


  1. Playing devil's advocate, while not required there are usually a lot of them there.

  2. Also if you're playing "gotcha" isn't that undermining the purpose? Do we want men to respect women or treat them as a minefield?

    Not that that's what happened here, I just don't like "gotcha" as a summary.

  3. "Gotcha" was in response to him denying that his comment implied that girls don't race. Not like I expected him to humbly admit his prejudice, but I knew it, and he knew it, and I caught him in the act. Hence "gotcha."

  4. Hmm. I bet he got defensive when you made that remark- I'm sure he wasn't expecting such a sharp point to come out. Of course I didn't see the exchange, but I could see myself perhaps making the same remark to someone. I would have immediately followed it with "that's great!"- perhaps he didn't make it that far?

    There's obviously no reason why women can't participate and be as successful in motorsports as men, but the fact remains that they are a still fairly small minority. Often female spectators and friends handily outnumber female competitors- though I concede I don't know what the situation is like where you are now. I'm just thinking some mild (and favorable) surprise might have been reasonable and not indicative of the sexist attitude you were quick to ascribe to him.

    Again, obviously I was not there but, assuming your retelling is accurate, that's how it looks on my end of the wire.

  5. Carl, you are right of course, that frequently girlfriends and wives accompanying the drivers outnumber female competitors. And I am just as guilty of making the assumption.

    However, my way of dealing with my prejudice is to consciously make myself assume that every woman who I run into at an autocross may be there to compete.

    When speaking to her, I would phrase my question as "Are you running today?" and if it turns out that she's competing that day, I would make sure to be positive, yet normal about it. Ask her what car she runs, for example.

    Accentuating how rare women participants are at motorsports events only underscores the "otherness" of women, and I know from my own experience that I would prefer to simply be accepted for an equal, not singled out for being different.

    I was very lucky to join the Tarheels club, where I haven't encountered any situations like the one I described in my post. Club officers and instructors were all very supportive and inclusive, showing me that autocross can be just as much about hanging out with like-minded people as it is about driving.

    I am not so sure whether I would have continued with the sport had my first few experiences been different, with men talking about my appearance and making jokes about me within my earshot, as was the case at some other clubs' events.

  6. very funny
    nice one
    i like bertycox too, that's how i found u

  7. Aren't you aware of the double-edged effect that car-conscious females have? While ability to drive and talk cars does make them more attractive (by a large margin), it also infringes on a sacred male territory.

    P.S. One of my best instructors was a chubby and cheerful 50-something lady. Boy, was she good at both driving and teaching!

  8. @dip: Oh, I am well aware of the phenomenon. However, I do not believe that men should feel proprietary about women edging into male-dominated sports (and other activities). Just because the majority of them still does, does not make it right. I try to point out prejudice and double-standards, because the first step in overcoming them is being aware of their existence.

  9. Skipping through your blog here... an S2K and Miata in the same garage, both well loved and put to proper use? What a pain it must have been to decide which one to take when you go out in the morning.

  10. Hehe, it was tough to pick indeed, but not anymore. I have found a new home for the Miata shortly before moving to the West Coast. I was not in a hurry to sell it, so I got to enjoy about five months of owning a fleet of roadsters :) They looked nice together, didn't they?

  11. Were you soaped up and wearing a bikini?? If so, well THAT would explain it. Otherwise, I'm thinking kinda not.