fact: i grew up around men who, whenever there’s an accident on the road, or there’s undue traffic, would say: “Babae kase!” with a shake of the head, sometimes hands up in the air. yes, they let go of the steering wheel to show their disgust.
fact: i grew up around women who are crazy ass drivers, cousins and an aunt about whom is said: “Parang lalake ka magmaneho” complete with that head shake, by the men in our lives.
when the MMDA announced that it would propose that bus operators be required to hire women drivers, that is, ascertain that at least 50% of their bus drivers are women, the reactions, especially from women in media, were wanting. the early morning show hosts made fun of the idea — and in effect of women — saying that this would only mean people being late for work because women drive slow, saying that masyadong maingat the female driver for comfort. this was a general reaction that i now fail to remember who said what, but i do remember Shawn Yao of Sapul sa 5 saying that this reeked of sexism.
though one does wonder, is it the MMDA that’s being sexist? or is it us, all of us, who reacted to this with a shrug and a mental image of very very slow buses plying EDSA?
there was in fact, nothing sexist about the MMDA’s proposal. what was absolutely wrong was the premise for these statements by MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino. because when he said that female drivers rarely get into accidents, which female drivers was he talking about? obviously private vehicle owners, yes? and that’s us who don’t need to drive our cars for a living, who don’t ply EDSA as a matter of feeding our families at the end of the day. more than being sexist, Tolentino created a world where every woman is the same, forgetting that the women drivers he speaks of aren’t the ones who will be driving those darn buses.
those buses are the source of livelihood for driver and the conductor, who need to earn a certain amount for the bus company first before they earn their keep for the day. if that system isn’t going to change, then really, those female drivers will be as reckless on the road as their male counterparts. because they need to be, because they have no choice.
to reduce the issues of class and the systemic dysfunction of the bus industry to an issue of gender is unfair. it’s also just dumb.
and really, some common sense please: traffic and accidents on EDSA and Commonwealth are also such because while private vehicles cannot go beyond that yellow line, buses can. where lies the discipline? it is the rules, the ones that aren’t followed, that endanger lives. those rules the MMDA is responsible for, those lives they are responsible for.
‘wag niyo na kami bolahin na mas okay kami mag-drive, para kunwari magaling kayo sa trabaho niyo. though maybe the wish is for women, especially the ones who drive their own cars and are in media, to see this for what it is: a classist proposal, that they’ve reacted to in the most sexist of ways.