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Girls & Women

Honk for equality

Flickr: Miguel Vaca

Whenever I walk to my car at night, I hold my keys like they’re a weapon and speed-walk in high-alert mode. Even though I’ve never encountered anything (or anyone) dangerous during these walks, I don’t feel safe until I have made it inside my car and locked all the doors.

I’m not alone. In the 1990’s, Germany began designating female-only parking lots to address the perceived dangers of walking alone at night. These exclusive parking areas are brightly lit and specifically built near main roads and busy shopping centers to improve women’s public safety. Sounds like somewhere I’d enjoy parking.

Women’s-only lots also exist in Austria, Switzerland, and China. However, in some countries, efforts to help females have crossed the line.

Honk for equality- Flickr- Terretta- Body 1.jpgImage: Flickr- Terretta

For example, a shopping mall in Northern China recently created bright pink female-only parking spots that were almost a foot wider than regular spaces. The spots may read “respectfully reserved for women,” but I get the sense that female’s parking skills are being disrespected here.

The list goes on. In Seoul, South Korea, 5,000 female-only parking spots were created near building entrances to eliminate “the inconveniences, the anxiety and discomfort that women in Seoul experience on a daily basis” (cough, they mean women in high heels).

The Frankfurt Airport also just revealed a new women’s parking lot complete with pink signs, floral motifs, and extra-wide parking spaces. I appreciate navigable parking lots as much as the next girl (or guy), but enough is enough.

Parking lots should be about safety, not sexism. Female-only lots make women feel protected, but over-sized spots and pink paint only perpetuate false stereotypes (a study in the UK found that women are actually better at parking than men are).

So let’s save spots for expecting mothers, the elderly, and the disabled. Let’s create separate parking lots for women who are susceptible to sexual assault. Let’s ensure that all roadways and parking lots are places of safety not danger.

But let’s “reverse” from insulting gender-based parking spots and put the world’s progress toward gender equality back “in drive.”