You’ve heard of “manspreading,” that odious expression of white male patriarchy in which men sit on the subway or Tube with their legs too far apart and use up all the space, making the delicate wallflowers of the feminist literati feel violated on their way to work. You may also have heard of “manslamming,” in which conflict-hungry girl bloggers throw themselves into strangers on the street in an attempt to show that men don’t get out of the way for women on the sidewalk.
But Breitbart has discovered an even more pernicious gender-specific public nuisance that is endangering anyone on the roads. The phenomenon is known as “femsteering,” and it describes the almost total inability of any woman to competently operate an automobile. Though whispered about on men’s rights forums, in working men’s clubs and on the pages of tabloid newspapers for decades, this is the first time the trend has been discussed in the open in a serious publication.
Femsteering is the subject of protracted comment on the internet. “Maybe the Saudis have a point about women drivers,” wrote one petrolhead yesterday on a password-protected, triple-firewalled forum dedicated to the discussion of this thorny issue. “I mean, I know for them it’s all about keeping the wife in the kitchen, but sometimes you get the right conclusion from flawed reasoning. Saudi Arabia’s road traffic accident stats must be the envy of the world.”
According to the activists drawing attention to this ugly expression of female privilege, femsteering affects all of us: men, women and children, and threatens the personal safety of anyone on the motorway or, especially, on busy streets outside schools. Its effects are dramatic and visually arresting, they report: crumpled bumpers, crippled cyclists and petrified passengers screaming: “Mommy, why are you driving us into the wall?!”
Yet some women insist the whole thing has been cooked up as yet another way of oppressing women. Asked yesterday to comment on the phenomenon, Guardian blogger Judy Truncheon said: “For too long men have expressed their cis privilege by alluding to a mystical driving manoeuvre no woman has ever successfully executed, referred to as ‘parallel parking.’ It’s time feminism took a stand against this patriarchal fairy story and said it out loud: women can drive just as well as men.
“So-called ‘health and safety’ restrictions placed on women, demanding that we stop applying lipstick at 80 miles an hour and texting at clogged-up intersections before lurching into oncoming traffic are folk tales put about to discourage women from expressing themselves and as a way of perpetuating inequality.” Short-lived cable TV documentaries with titles such as Are You Ready To See The World’s Worst Female Drivers? have contributed to “unhelpful stereotypes” about women, she added.
Truncheon’s comments will come as a surprise to husbands everywhere, who have for generations been left with inflated insurance premiums and hefty repair bills for the carnage inflicted on family vehicles by the fairer sex. Men point to the numerous examples from their own lives and the privately whispered meme among men about their better halves and motor vehicles.
“Just another example of ‘women versus tropes,’ and the very real societal effects of toxic masculinity,” responded prominent feminist blogger Tiffany Pimenti yesterday, who noted that her Intel-powered personal period tracker was not a distraction at the wheel. “Anyway,” she added, “Men can’t multi-task.”
Scientists are on the side of the men in this discussion, stating that men have one standard deviation higher spatial intelligence quotient than women and lower reaction times, which may explain the whites in pedestrians’ eyes when they discern a mop of blond hair in the car approaching them, and why no woman on the planet can merge lanes without having a minor meltdown. Truncheon yesterday dismissed this research: “Facts have a well-known patriarchal bias,” she said.
Men appear to have the upper hand in the public debate about femsteering, in the form of a variety of cruel YouTube videos compiled to demonstrate the inadequacies of women behind the wheel. Loath as we are to further propagate these mean-spirited videos, here are some more of them.
Research that demonstrates women’s greater linguistic and communicative aptitudes despite their lack of co-ordination skills may explain why women driving in the wrong direction on freeways are nonetheless able to simultaneously scream at their passenger-seated husbands about why it’s “all your fucking fault, you useless sack of shit.”
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