Sometimes a story comes along that is guaranteed to please everyone and by please I mean offend and by offend I mean make you rant over breakfast about something you completely ignored a few moments before.
Introducing the German ‘frauenparkplatz’ – which roughly translates to ‘women-only parking space’. Germany introduced them in the 1990s to make women who feared sexual assault feel safer in underground car parks. Frauenparkplatz was well lit and located close to busy buildings and streets. Female-only parking spaces have since become a regular part of German motoring life and can also be found in Austria, China and South Korea, but of late they have caused some consternation. USA today recently reported that if you want a “bigger, nicer and closer to the terminal” seat at Frankfurt Airport, all you have to do is follow “the pink ribbon of paint on the floor marking out the seats wider than average parking lots and pink parking lot walls with floral graphics and signs that advertise “Ladies Parking.”
Frankfurt’s new frauenparkplatz sparked a rage. Who has the right to be the most injured? Men who think women-only spaces discriminate against them, or women who think that the fact that these pink women-only spaces are bigger and easier to use implies that women aren’t good at parking? German magazines Stern and Bild have questioned the need for such spaces, claiming that modern car parks are not dangerous. Geraldine Herbert, editor of Wheels for Women, told an English-language German newspaper Local“All of this just reinforces the stereotype that women are bad at parking.”
Faster than you could say “sexistischen schwein” we had media reports proclaiming the new nude figure artwork for the parkplatz way (parking reserved for men) in the town of Triberg in the Black Forest. Next to it are the words “Steile berge feuchte taler” – “steep mountains, wet valleys”. The city’s mayor told Bild that these parking spots are difficult to use and need to be reversed, hence the “men-only” designation. Many were outraged. The mayor, who said it was humor, didn’t care.
Are women-only parking spots unfair? Yes, but who cares? What’s wrong with giving them a little privilege? That’s if you call feeling safe in a privileged public space. Parking lots may be safer than in decades past, but they can still be intimidating.
Is a silly picture of a woman on her back with a rude pun next to it sexist? Yes, but who cares? If a few guys want to laugh reversing in this space, what’s the harm? I guess you could say it creates a toxic environment. Maybe contributes to anything that doesn’t feel safe. It might be better to paint over it. Plus, the sexy figure is an obvious publicity stunt. A silly attempt to make headlines (which worked well).
Instead of being outraged, we should consider expanding the concept of gender only. In Japan, female-only trains were introduced as a way for women to avoid unwanted fumbling. They are also offered in Russia, Brazil and Indonesia.
If we tried them in Canada, it might encourage more people to use public transport. I would also support trains and buses for people I don’t want to be with. It’s a long list.
Like us on Facebook
follow us on instagram
Add us to your circles
Register for our weekly newsletter