Insulting? Wider parking spaces for women

EFFIE MANN
Last updated 14:09 23/07/2014
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Weibo

A TOUCH MISGUIDED: A Chinese shopping centre has designed women-only parking spaces that are wider and painted pink. Huh?

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Let's take a moment to be thankful for specialty parking spots, shall we? You know, those handy parks close to shopping centres' front entrances reserved for the elderly, disabled, parents with bulky prams and... women.

Wait, what? Yes, you read that correctly.

The introduction of 10 women-only parking spaces (pictured above) at a mall in China has been met with disbelief, with social media users calling the car parks sexist and disrespectful.

The designated parks at the World Metropolis Centre in the north-eastern city of Dalian are etched in pink, marked with the words "Respectfully reserved for women" and measure 30 centimetres wider than the centre's regulation parking spots.

One Twitter commenter lamented, "Not sure if I should laugh or cry." On Weibo, a blogger aksed, "Isn't that insulting females' driving ability?"

Yes, yes, we think it is. Not only does the centre's VIP parking disregard that long-fought battle 'equality of the sexes' - because men enjoy sneaky shopping sprees too - it also panders to gender stereotypes by suggesting women require more space when navigating a car park and, further, by painting the space bright pink for added girliness.

Despite the backlash, a spokeswoman for the centre has defended the move. "It's not an insult to women at all," mall manager Yang Hongjun told AFP. "If their parking spaces are larger, it's only for practical reasons. It doesn't mean that women drive less well than men."

According to the Wall Street Journal, Dalian isn't the first Chinese city to dedicate parking spots to women. At a shopping centre in Hebei in 2010, one of three underground parking garages was dedicated to female drivers. The parks were a whopping 80 centimetres bigger than regular parking spaces and the walls were decorated by paintings of animals to help female shoppers remember where they had parked. "As though that weren't enough," writer Alyssa Abkowitz highlights, "there were also dancing parking lot attendants installed to help women park their cars."

In South Korea, the high-heeled women of Seoul were treated to 5,000 pink parking spaces across the city in 2009, while similar measures have been taken in German cities to help women feel safer and less prone to sexual assault, according to officials.

Hat-tip: Wall Street Journal

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