How ridiculous. The top news billing by Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 yesterday afternoon was all about whether Jezza was to be sacked or not. Relegating the German air disaster to second place.
Have we all gone completely mad?
As fond as I was of the Top Gear boys I’m not sorry their days are numbered. I can’t see anyone replacing Jezza in terms of bad behaviour and even if the BBC tries to, it won’t be the same or as good.
What will Jezza do instead?
Let’s not worry too much about big boy Jezza I say! Assuming this wasn’t a put up job, he will have a cunning plan B you can be sure. As I see it (and would do myself in the unlikely event of me EVER being in his situation, haha…) the BBC can’t stop him earning a living so he’s likely (and surely free?) to replicate the ‘Boys Behaving Badly’ formula elsewhere. For example, whilst the use of explosives in classrooms and kitchens will make entertaining and scientific adult TV (albeit potentially dangerous…), blowing up cars, caravans and whatever his latest ‘up yours’ wheeze, doesn’t necessarily make this a driving programme.
What the BBC will have created is the Jeremy Clarkson ‘Boy Behaving Badly’ brand and show which may or may not sit nicely on a Sunday evening on a TV screen near you.
An alternative to Top Gear?
Let’s not worry too much about the BBC either! They might even decide it’s politically correct time for a motoring programme for and about women?
I’m picturing a programme that includes amateur fast women racers strutting their stuff – there are many who can’t get the sponsorship money men do. Let them prove what they can do around a track, like Dunsfold perhaps, and then invite their male (amateur) equivalents to race them/see who wins in the end.
This could be run a la X-Factor; with regional aptitude/interview/speed trials – all filmed of course and more about the people than the cars.
By all means involve Jodie Kidd, Vicki Butler-Henderson and Nurburgring’s Sabine Schmitt in case a well known name with a motoring pedigree is needed to front this.
One thing is for sure, all the women would be MUCH better looking than Jeremy Clarkson.
We could then add in reviews of cars by and for women plus mystery visits to car showrooms & garages and so on…
Out of this will likely emerge a BIG female personality to win the hearts and souls of the TV watching public – the ones that couldn’t stand Jezza probably.
Why not give us girls a chance to do things our way, BBC, and confound those stereotypical male perceptions about our driving knowledge and ability once and for all?
I missed Kirsty Wark’s TV programme on Thursday but have just caught it on iPlayer. It’s called ‘Blurred Lines – The Battle of The Sexes.’
Kirsty was remarkably balanced about the whole thing which the Guardian described as ‘illuminating and stimulating’ but I found depressing and disturbing.
The programme looked at challenging gender-related areas including pornography, attitudes to rape, bullying online behaviour and varying degrees of misogyny.
Apparently it’s thought possible by some that women might have gone too far in their quest for equality so some, usually beleaguered, men are starting to hate us for it.
Some women (including me) were offended by extreme male behaviour here, some thought this was old hat stuff and some laughed it off, calling it ironic or best ignored. I think we’re wrong to dismiss this so lightly.
Areas of gender abuse the programme didn’t tackle
+ the abusers were almost exclusively male
+ some young females seemed to side with the males rather than their victims
+ alcohol clearly numbs the senses when it comes to public decency (including students on the train) but is this an excuse?
+ females who felt entitled to flaunt their bodies (sometimes for money as in models and prostitutes) seemed oblivious to their lost respect and the impact their bare behaviour has on other women/their gender.
Battle of the sexes concerns
The programme got me thinking about…
+ The temptation for feisty females to want to be more like men to be accepted in their career roles. How unambitious is that? Shouldn’t ambitious women want to do/be better AND be themselves? Not copycat men?
+ Rod Liddle’s attitude that women should ‘man up’ for serious online abuse because ‘it’s the same for men’. No it isn’t Rod; you might be used to it because you actively rattle cages but few women do; gender abuse is usually made by male bullies who are out to frighten women. And succeed.
+ Young women who feel that misogynistic abusive attitudes have to be lived with, like the young girl who was prepared to put up with not being able to play her interactive shoot-em-up PC games at night because of the online abuse she received. For being a woman.
The motoring industry perspective
Now what has all this got to do with FOXY Lady Drivers Club? Yes I run a motoring club for women within a masculine oriented industry so you might think I’d want to jump on any battle of the sexes bandwagon.
But I don’t recognise this level of offensive behaviour and this programme has helped put into perspective the industry’s leaning towards ‘Loaded-like’ models in advertising and promotional situations. I still feel sorry for scantily-clad girls who feel the need to do this at exhibitions and I am frequently offended by unnecessarily sexual motoring-related adverts and websites but I do find that when businesses/advertisers realise these can be offensive, they are less likely to do this again. Many in charge simply don’t realise that this is still going on in their business…
But it must be said – the majority of us, men and women, know that misogynistic behaviour isn’t appropriate today. In defence of women who don’t want to be seen as sex objects, I also defend men who don’t want to go shopping, do the cleaning or change nappies. You don’t have to…
You don’t have to because life is a series of relationships and we need to work hard to get them right if we want to.
If men or women are to be the sole breadwinner and/or the chief business honcho their partner will presumably support them to do their bit.
If a man and women compete for a promotion they have to assume the best one gets it (and try for the next one if it isn’t them).
If men and women in the same relationship are both heading up the career path one can assume they’ll have enough money for nannies, cleaners and gardeners…
So what’s the problem in terms of equality here?
The problem is often created within the media as was well illustrated by Rod Liddle’s attitude, some awful comments made about historian Mary Beard (who shouldn’t have been asked to comment about them I felt) and the troll-like behaviour that seems to zoom in from all parts of the world wherever women can be put down by men.
Women don’t do this about men, nor should we ever start to I hope..
But even so, women must not let misogyny flourish through well-intentioned apathy. Everyday sexism needs to be outed so that others think twice before resorting to this themselves. Simply hurling gender abuse without engaging the brain first needs to be managed more effectively by websites than ever before. If the post uses offensive words delete it. If the post is abusive delete it. And if there isn’t already (I’m not sure), there should surely be a central repository for all online abuse that gets investigated by the internet police. Regardless of gender.
The greatest disservice an otherwise excellent TV programme like this one achieves is that the rest of us forget that it is but a very small minority of individuals, usually male, that resort to this bad behaviour.
Let’s all remember that it’s usually enlightened men that have helped today’s high flying females to get where they are, because the males know it’s the right thing to do… and because otherwise UK business and our society in general is missing out on 50% of the available gender talent.
For me, I cannot speak too highly for the encouragement I have had from so many men in the UK motor industry. They want it to be a more gender diverse industry and together we are making genuine inroads into burying the ‘last male bastion’ image that many women still have of garages and used car showrooms. We just need a few more females in at the top, in UK Boardrooms to be specific, to make it even easier for talented others to follow in their footsteps in future.
A recent press release rang a loud bell with me after a member’s encounter with a hedge last week. According to research from Allianz Insurance more than three quarters of drivers are bored behind the wheel and just over one in two claim that boredom affects their concentration. And the obvious concern is that a lapse in concentration leads to accidents… which brings me neatly back to our member and the expensive hedge in question…
How ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ resulted in expensive hedge encounter
To put this research into context FOXY Lady Drivers Club member Jane is an independent grandmother who lives on her own and has driven, without claims fault, for some 40 years. On this occasion the cause of her driving incident can be laid at the door of Strictly Come Dancing and the fact that her TV broke down on the Friday, couldn’t be replaced until the Sunday and she seemed destined to miss seeing her favourite TV programme live on the Saturday evening…
As it happened, her daughter, who lived about 50 miles away, popped in unexpectedly to see her on the Saturday. “Come up for supper, we’ll watch it together and you can shoot off early tomorrow to be in time for the TV delivery man” said Sue. And so they set off in a convoy late that afternoon.
Now it’s important to understand that Sue is a slower driver than her mother who likes to put her foot down and tends to drive to the maximum speed limit. And in this instance we’re talking about the A24 in Surrey, not the M25 that gets the ‘Britain’s dullest drive’ vote in the Allianz survey. After following her daughter for a while Jane felt boredom creeping up on her and overtook her to take the lead. She then waited for Sue to catch up who then took the lead and so on. And it was after she was following Sue the third time that Jane lost concentration on a bend and her lovely VW Lupo ended up with severe hedge burn to three panels on the passenger side of the car.
Fortunately the car was driveable, nobody else was involved or hurt, a much chastened Jane resumed her journey, saw her TV programme and was then able to ask us for advice and support. Happily we were able to do more than just that thanks to some excellent and fast personal service from Ros at PMC body repair specialists near Chichester. I can now report that Jane’s VW Lupo is looking as pretty as ever and the bill was less than we expected.
Tips to keep driving boredom at bay
Whilst we were sorting all this out I see we gave Jane very similar advice to that from Jon Lott at Allianz who reminds us all that creeping boredom at the wheel can affect our concentration levels. His foxy advice is to
“Plan regular breaks and maybe open up the window to get some fresh air in the car to stay alert. Snacking whilst driving can divert attention from the road, so to keep safe we recommend stopping for short refreshment breaks.”
Sound advice to which I’d add that boredom and tiredness can strike on short journeys too. I remember a time when my son was a toddler and after a bad night’s sleep I was stopped by a policeman for driving erratically within 3 miles of home. He was right of course and I feel lucky not to have caused an accident as a result of his warning.
So my personal advice is to analyse your own driving style, recognise any signs of weakness and address them. For example I prefer to drive in mornings and evenings when I tend to be more alert. If I have to drive in the early afternoon I know to take more stops, keep the car cool and drink more coffee than normal.
If you enjoy driving quickly and you have the choice (not always an option on the M25), you should be able to, assuming it’s safe. If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, had a late night out involving alcohol or are taking new medication, be brutally honest with yourself. Do you need to drive at all today?
From FOXY’s point of view we’d like to see insurers organising refresher driving events for women of all ages. Not just about concentration of course but to give women the opportunity to discuss any motoring concerns they may have in a fun and informal fashion. Before more of us end up in expensive hedges like Jane…