“Women Can’t Drive”: Road Rage Edition

 

In my daily commute along the uneven and bumpy cement of the hell on Earth that is the 405 freeway, I have seen my fair share of, well … things. You could call these “incidents,” “happenings,” “occurrences,” even “adventures,” if you’re the type of person who sees the glass half full.

Which I am. I’m the gal who views the glass as majestic despite its cracks and spots. I do have to admit the whole analogy to be quite ridiculous, though – I mean, if you start off with an empty glass, then of course it’s half full and all lovely, but if you’ve got it all filled up and glorious to begin with, then it’s just false optimism.

Anyway, I digress. Last week, my bumpy excursion turned into a terrifying nightmare when I decided to pass a fixed up, black Hummer. As I slowed down behind the piled up traffic, the Hummer caught up to my car, braking violently behind me. In my rear view mirror, I could see the male driver waving his arms and screaming what I assumed to be obscenities at me.

I ignored him, continuing to tap my fingers to the bass of my music. As the cars started to slowly crawl forward, I moved along my usual route, until I noticed that the Hummer sped past me, pulled in front of my car, and slammed on the brakes.

My water bottle flew across the dashboard as I tried to control the car and brake on time. He continued to do this at least five more times, as each time, I got out from behind his car and tried to move out of his view.

I finally decided to exit the freeway way before my usual exit, just to get away from him. As I sped up into the unfamiliar suburban street, I looked in my rearview mirror – and to my horror, there he was! I swore I could see a menacing smirk, but I didn’t linger enough to really find out.

In what felt like hours (but was in fact twenty minutes or so), I drove around in that suburbia, zigzagging through streets and turning unexpectedly into side-alleys, hoping to lose him.

I eventually did, got back into the freeway, and drove home. The experience terrified me, though, nonetheless. I couldn’t believe that another human being felt he had the right to impose on and terrify someone else like that.

So when I got home, I decided to do a bit of googling around, to see what the statistics were on road rage in gender terms. To be honest, I was expecting the number to be much higher for men than women, since that has been my personal experience. What I found though was quite different.

Although not much actual research has been done on the issue, a 2012 study’s findings were dominant in the reportings. As both Fox News and CBS claim, in big bold titles, women are “worse” than men when it comes to road rage.

Actually reading the study’s reportings, however, I realized that this is a self-reported survey, i.e. 61% of the women reported having more road rage, while 56% of the men reported so.

I was extremely annoyed of the way the results were being reported, especially when I was advised by Fox to “take a chill pill” next time I got behind the wheel.

Women are not angrier drivers; they claim to be. That is, women view more of their own reactions as rageful, while men probably don’t. Women are raised to be polite, meek, and quiet, and so when they act against that socialization, they are bound to see it as anger.

Men, on the other hand, are taught that their anger is valid, on point, and sometimes even necessary (i.e. why aren’t you “manning up” and showing some ire, you glorious thing?!) Also, men would most probably not even view excessive honking, tailgating, or cursing as road rage, while many women might.

My frustration ceased a bit when I stumbled upon this gem from the eSurance blog (“add it to your RSS feed now!”).

Blogger, Alex Glenn – whose self-written bio is clad with a virtual fedora – decided to explore the issue of why are women more prone to road rage. Take note, ladies. Alex is about to tell you what you’re really like, and why you’re like that:

“According to some experts, this gender divide isn’t a random occurrence. Rather, it likely stems from women’s possible subconscious need to break free of society’s expectations (well … of course).

In case your eyes just glazed over like Krispy Kremes, let’s rephrase in plain English. Essentially, they’re saying women might feel forced into a nurturing, non-aggressive role in public. This can result in pent-up frustration — frustration that comes out behind the anonymity of the wheel.”

First off, let’s all wipe the misty gratitude from our eyes for the way a simple sentence was, uhm, simplified into another simple sentence. So women are angry because of society’s expectations.

Women claim to be frustrated while driving, because women are human beings, and human beings get frustrated. Although the socialization of women into meek, placid beings is valid and existent (I, myself, use it in this piece), it is no way appropriate here. Using this sad truth to further promote illegitimate and inaccurate (let alone misogynistic) findings of a so-called study is ludicrous.

I cannot wait for a time when men cease telling women how they women act and why women act a certain way.

 

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