Brian’s Column: “He drives like a girl” – masculinity in road safety?
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 , Brian Bilal Mwebaze
In this month’s column, Brian explores the masculinity around driving behaviour in africa. From driving too fast to the phrase, ‘You drive like a girl’. Does this mean women drive better or worse? Brian’s column explores some of ideals behind masculine driving and combating the idea of a ‘driving like a girl’.
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Hello there, please grab some popcorn because this is gonna have you clad onto your seat! Wherever, you are reading this from, thank you for staying and encouraging your sphere of influence to be safe! So, let’s go straight into the mix, shall we?
Just a quick update:
In the world of trauma and prehospital care, the climax of July within the East Africa Region and Africa to be precise seems to have been the 7th Pan African PCAF Psycho trauma Conference. This conference was organised by the Peter C. Alderman Foundation team from July 21st -23rd 2014 in the beautiful location of Mbarara, Uganda:-my local home town! The conference which was attended to by 508 delegates from 21 African countries and 7 others outside of Africa aimed to draft a way forward regarding trauma in the region.
All delegates had specific interest in mental health and psychosocial support services for populations affected by armed conflict and adversity more broadly in Africa. It was a perfect occasion to learn from colleagues about new developments as well as stimulating presentations and discussions around first aid and road safety, refugee mental health; mental health in primary care; sexual and gender-based violence; psychological and social interventions in post-conflict areas; and children, adolescents and trauma. As it stood out in the conference road crashes are the #1 killer of young people worldwide and inevitably increases the physical economic, social and emotional burden of trauma on the already poor communities in developing countries.
Now, you know why and how the bug of “He drives like a girl” appeared in the discussions as one of the causes of road traffic crashes especially amongst young drivers. While at the conference, my ‘feminist’ views on road safety were put onto a beam balance in what some delegates called “Drive Like A Girl” – a naked advocacy statement targeting especially young people aged between 17 and 30 to be safety conscious drivers by “driving like a girl”. I am not so sure what you are thinking right now: O Alright, ok, I’m being slightly cheeky there but the delegates meant the target population should be able to drive with all eyes open, always gluing to all the road signs as well taking a break on long journeys.
But I am not sorry to apologise as ‘Drive Like A Girl’ kinda makes me slightly uneasy. Does it under look females and encourage the aggressiveness of young male drivers? Does it demean females as poor drivers?
The bottom line: According to my feminine doctrines and backgrounds (as a male, an equality and equity convert!), yes, it does. The usage of a female-bug to portray safety especially in the current patriarchal society will have a negative feedback mechanism amongst young male drivers that will be characterized by mockery:-‘Look, He Drivers LIKE A GIRL’. Consequently, this will increase chances of speeding, breaking the road rules, showing the masculinity: all culminating into higher road traffic crashes and mortalities. But again, that’s my opinion, as I don’t have an evidence based research findings on this. What do you think? Are you ready to ‘Drive Like A Girl?’ Whatever your answer is, it should be encouraging my safety, your safety and our safety! Hello August! ☺