Oh look, a controversy involving gender that isn’t centered on bathroom policies. At least this one tackles an important issue: female drivers. In particular, some businesses and government agencies are questioning Chinese women and their ability to park. This has resulted in special parking spaces being made available just for women.
There’s nothing new about reserved spaces. There are handicap spaces. Expectant mother parking spaces. For decades in Germany, there have even been special female-only parking spaces near the front of stores. However, those were created to protect against sexual assault. On the other hand, the controversial spaces in China, which showed up in March, are designed to protect women from the perils of parking. According to the government official in charge of the Tonglu Service Area, he decided to introduce the parking spaces after he noticed female drivers were unable to park in regular sized spots or drive in reverse.
To compensate for a woman’s inability to park, the new female-only spots are 50% larger than a normal spot. They’re also outlined with pink lines and there’s a large, pink female symbol painted in the middle of the spot. The government official, Pan Tietong, stressed that providing wider spots for females is a ‘humane measure’ since he’s seen numerous women exit their vehicles and ask the security guards to park for them. The service area along the Hangxinjing Highway, which connects the province of Zhejiang to the province of Jiangxi in southeastern China, is simply following a national trend. Shopping malls and rest areas in Shanghai, Chongqing, Dalian, and Shijiazhuang have had female-only spots for years, but they have not been double the size of regular parking stalls.
Chinese users of the Twitter-like Sina Weibo have expressed a range of feelings. Most are negative and describe outrage at the spots. Others, however, take the stance that women don’t have to park in the wider spots. Both sides raise interesting points. Nevertheless, there is a larger issue that isn’t being discussed. A recent study published in the Iranian Journal of Public Health found that in China, male drivers are three times more likely than women to be involved in a fatal car accident. While that study fails to take into account the male-dominated population that was born under the One-child policy, the biggest issue might still be the legal system. In China, the laws are so convoluted that drivers, regardless of gender, are encouraged to kill pedestrians.