Divas of the road

There’s nothing quite like a woman who kicks butt.  To say that a woman belongs to the weaker sex is, by now, the sheerest commonplace.  What a man can do, a woman does better.

Divas of the road
International race car driver Michele Bumgarner shows how to fix a flat tire. Diana Noche
More than three decades ago, the idea of women behind the wheel of a car—and for that matter, trucks, taxis, jeepneys—got a smirk and a raise of the eyebrows from men who would insist that motor vehicles are for men only.  That women couldn’t handle that kind of stuff.  That driving such a complicated machine is not for the faint of heart.

Hey, wait a minute.   Look out for the woman, she who was born with gasoline in her veins.  It’s in her DNA—the unaroused misterly chromosome numbers.  She just didn’t find them earlier.

Over the years, women drivers have brought a determinative level of refinement to  the industry where male drivers used to dominate.  Gender stereotypes have been challenged.  The “weaker sex” has proven its seriousness and readiness to take on roles outside its traditional range.  Consequently, she opened up a whole new page in women’s empowerment history, maximizing her potentials as she takes control of the road simultaneously with doing kitchen chores and the laundry, taking the kids to and from school, and picking up some broccolis at the supermarket.

Tough job, but she’s got balls to do all that and more.

Last weekend, a number of empowered women whose common interest in driving had morphed into an advocacy, held “Women! Drive The Future” awareness campaign launched at the Black Bird in Makati City with partners Pilipinas Shell celebrating its 105th year in the Philippines and A-1 Driving School.  They were the typical Gen Xers and Millenials in comfortable clothes, signature jeans, clutching their mobile phones, and enjoying cold citrus drinks. The attendees were top female drivers and innovators for women empowerment: Vanessa Ejercito, Shell FuelSave Brand Manager; Luna Garcia, A-1 Driving School Business Development Head; race car driver Michele Bumgarner, international racing winner at age 15 while in high school; Rowie Abracero, Directress of the Girls Racers Club; Kelly Misa Fernandez; Patty Laurel-Filart; and Bianca Santiago who shared their experiences on the road. 

Topics were varied: safety on the road, respect for other drivers, road courtesy, balancing work and life, updates on traffic regulations, and constant awareness to that certain kind of freedom, power, and flexibility away from domestic drudge  work given the many possibilities relative to her new found strength

An interesting issue was raised during the meeting: are women better at driving than their male counterparts?  In an industry dominated by men, there is a noticeable mark that separates each personality.  Men are less cautious than women, driving aggressively at inordinate speeds which invite trouble with the law.  Female drivers tend to ride at a pace they are most comfortable with and keep eagle eyes on the mandatory traffic speed limit.  In stop-and-go situations, men drive closer and more tightly than a female driver does who calmly and cautiously maintains a safe riding distance to  other cars.  Male drivers make critical turns and spend less time when parking ---to his credit, accurately and with precision.  Alas, parking has  always been a bete noire for women drivers whose parallel parking  is not their  strongest flair.  Male drivers get more tickets for drunken driving; women drivers wisely avoid getting intoxicated when hitting the road.

There are many perils out there,  and conditions that insist on subverting that fixed image of her being fragile and prone to helplessness, but these have only made the woman driver to become a supremely confident person.  When she gets behind the steering wheel … when the engine starts to roar … when adrenaline takes over … when her gauge for adventure becomes wider … she is the hardest nut to crack.  Eat her dust.

Topics: Michele Bumgarner , A-1 Driving School , Rowie Abracero , Kelly Misa Fernandez , Patty Laurel-Filart , Bianca Santiago

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