OPINION

Ministry guilty of repugnant sexism

The new leaflet issued by the Transport and Communications Ministry specifically for women motorists is not only awfully sexist – it is makeshift and sloppy, both in concept and execution. The first question that springs to mind is: Why should authorities issue a leaflet specifically for women drivers? Have certain assessments been made, whose results are known only to the ministry in question, showing that this specific group of the population is responsible for an inordinately high percentage of road accidents or systematically violates the highway code? Or could it be that our public administration is embracing stereotypes of the kind favored by aging Greek cafe owners as regards the relationship between women and cars? An even worse scenario would be the following: The state, by publicizing such hackneyed stereotypes, is endeavoring to legitimize and propagate them. Evidently, these are thoughts that have not passed through the minds of senior officials at the Transport Ministry. The likeliest scenario is that the ministry had some European Union funding left over and that someone decided this cash should be used to produce a leaflet for female motorists containing sexist references such as the following: «High heels are the fetish of all women» (How do they know this? Did they ask all women?); «A woman without heels is like a car without wheels;» «I only take my 5-inch heels off when I go to sleep;» «Beyond your wardrobe, there is also a belt in your car;» «When I stop at a red light, it gives me a chance to refresh my lipstick;» «Your pretty little head has no space for laws, limits, regulations and prohibitions.» Even worse perhaps is the fact that, beyond a few sarcastic comments in the press and a statement by the main opposition PASOK party – which was drowned in election-focused rhetoric – there was no reaction from society to this despicable initiative. Greece’s feminist movement has long since fizzled out and the angry protests of a few isolated female bloggers were lost in cyberspace. The most worrying thing of all is that a large proportion of citizens may well have found the ministry’s initiative quaint or even amusing. «A test of humor with the scent of a woman,» as Transport Minister Michalis Liapis described it. At any rate, the stereotypes which define women as incompetent fools beyond the confines of the kitchen have effectively been vindicated through this government initiative. Let us hope that the ministry in question has no more EU funding left to spend. Otherwise they might start issuing special leaflets for immigrants and gays.