A couple of weeks ago, I finally voiced my opinions on behalf of myself and the female racing community. The reason behind it was that I was tired of the sexist remarks and unnecessary quips. In fact, they aren’t quips; they are sexual harassment.
,The post was not a dig at anyone in particular, it was more of a ‘this is what is happening and women in racing should not have to put up with it’. I am a blogger, a journalist and try my hand at PR. I know motorsport isn’t a nice world 24/7, but I know women deserve more than being called everything under the sun. Of course, it was going to be a controversial post, all opinion posts are. However, I was astounded by one particular response.
Kindly, a BTCC fan shared the article on Facebook. It created quite an amount of traffic to the post itself and generated a couple of comments. It was the one below that stood out. Not particularly because of what he had said, but the fact that he had completely missed the point of the blog post and proceeded to ‘rant’ about it. Despite the fact he had entirely misinterpreted it.
'But it’s easy to be a woman in motorsport, just look at Sarah Moore,' is something I have heard far too frequently. Need I say that his comments reveal some explicit and common themes in sexism.
In fact, the Snapchat message from the F1 is pretty bog standard for how men in motorsport treat women, including the ones who are barely legal age-wise. Officially, it is know as sexual harassment. I do wish that the picture I attached on my article was it, but sadly not. The Social Media Manager send a number of topless pictures to me, without warning or any instigation on my behalf. Yes, I could have blocked the team, but that would mean that I would not get to see any of the professional things they were documenting. I genuinely thought they contacted me because they liked my blog and wanted me to write for them, not because one employee wanted to take advantage of his status and call me ‘sexy’ repeatedly.
My blog was the only way of reporting the reality of sexual harassment. It is the only avenue open to me. Nobody is going to take me seriously if I file a formal complaint. And then there is the possibility that it'll ruin my career and nobody will talk to me in interviews. I did talk to HR about the happenings at the team, but I had little evidence to back up my case - as the harassment happened over Snapchat, I couldn’t save the images that were sent to me - so I found myself with a lack of proof. Thus, my argument was effectively meaningless. No action could be taken, sadly.
I am going to go as far to say that the sport is heading for some sexual harassment suits if they're not a bit more careful in how their male staff treat women. Saward commented in his piece on equality that women 'get asked out a lot'...for a traditionalist like Saward to notice it, it must be more common than just every woman in motorsport that I've spoken to about how they get treated by men.
My commenter completely misses this point. This only leaves me to believe that he either didn't read more than the lead paragraph, or he doesn't think that kind of thing is inappropriate (and likely does it himself). He went straight to what he assumed were pain points instead of arguing against my points. This is typical behaviour of online sadists.
‘Probably an I am bored out of my tiny mind post’
Wrong. He is so very wrong there. I was not bored; if anything, I was bored of the comments that many women in motorsport were receiving. I had put it to the back of my mind for as long as I could manage, but I had reached boiling point. Also, I have anything but a tiny mind. I go to a grammar school, am off to university in September - a tiny mind is something I do not have. I may be young, but I am not uneducated. Please, do not underestimate us ladies!
It is also obvious that he didn't click around my website before attacking me. He's relying on stereotypes in his attempt to discredit me. While understandable in this world of over-stimulation, it's still an annoying habit of sexists.
Secondly, what does it make him for having to write that comment. Is HE bored out of his mind?
‘Sad and pathetic life’
Wrong, again. My life is pretty fantastic - the only thing that isn’t brilliant is the cat calls when I walk out of my house in a Red Bull Racing t-shirt. I don’t want to be whistled at or called a sexy racing lady, thank you.
‘Women in all walks of motorsport’’
Oh, I am not denying that. I am so thrilled to see many women who grace the motorsport paddocks, donning on racing overalls, becoming engineers. I am not for a second doubting the femme racing community - I am part of it. Some of my closest female friends are those in motorsport. I campaign for more women to be involved in the sport. I am not blind to that. My post was not about that. If he had taken a look at my blog before passing judgement, he would have seen many posts and interviews with woman drivers, journalists, presenters and so on. This is what puzzles me, how did he interpret what I had written to mean that?
By simply pointing out a couple of women in the sport, does he hope to deter away from his sexist dogma? Is he hoping that he’ll disguise himself to be the perfect advocate for women in the sport. Look at me, I can name one woman racer! I am not sexist! He is almost certainly trying to divert the argument onto a topic where he feels comfortable. This is a standard tactic.
‘Silly silly woman’
See point 1 and 2. I am not a silly silly woman. Thank you, but no thank you for that part of your comment. You are part of the sexist group that I targeted my original post at.
His comment is him trying to discredit me on account of my gender and not shoddy work or a poorly-argued point. This is another feature of motorsport sexism; this must be eradicated also.
‘Read a book or two first’
What does this have to do with what I published? I don’t think Orwell’s 1984 would have come in so handy here. He is in fact right that equality was better when the baby boomers were racing, yet that doesn't change that there is work to be done now.
‘Give the dumb blond some intelligence’
This is the part that made me laugh the most. This particular sentence is so irrelevant to the initial argument I put forward. Stereotyping an entire gender as stupid is where a segment of the issue stems from. So sure it is easy to be a woman in motorsport, as long as you can stomach men like him and their comments and digs.
It truly is a shame that in the 21st century, women have to defend their opinions. I understand that he may feel I was ranting; I am passionate about what I write about. I do not put pen to paper for an unnecessary reason. What I write about has true meaning and intent behind it. Perhaps it is fair to say that this man feels threatened. Maybe he feels as if he has been caught out and his male white fragility felt guilty. A guilty conscience.
It isn’t all negative, however. Some of the male community stand up and applaud women in motorsport. If I was to name someone, then Sam Rideal is who stands out. He encourages women to write for his website, giving those opportunities who perhaps wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I am not saying that all men are sexist, that all men are like that one I described in my blog because that is not the case. Some are supportive and the gender lines are blurred for them - in motorsport, everyone is equal. There needs to be more of those men.