Today is International Women's Day. Happy Women's Day! We hope you have a lovely day, and are treated well by everyone you meet today. We also hope your day includes a foot massage from a loved one.
We've had some questions about our feminist orientation, and today seems like a good occasion to officially address them in a public forum. Bear in mind as you read this that there are as many expressions of feminism as there are feminists. Not all women are feminists, and not all feminists are women.
Are we feminists?
Of course we are. Any organisation that works expressly for the equality of women is, by definition, feminist. Fourth Wave feminism is also concerned with the equality of minorities, people of colour, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual/gender minorities including intersex and asexual people) community, etc. The low numbers of women (and people of colour, and LGBTQ+ people and other minorities) in motorsport fits within that brief.
Are we the kind of feminists who shave our heads but not our legs (and insist that others do the same)?
No. That kind of feminist has become more rare since Second, Third, and Fourth Wave feminism came into being. We believe that gender expression is a personal thing. If you want to wear pink dresses, make-up, and style your long hair into epic, Pinterest-inspired masterpieces, that's great. If you're more into jeans-and-plaid (or, let's be realistic, team kit) with low-maintenance hair, that's also great. How you feel comfortable expressing your femininity is great for you, and we don't believe in policing it. Women who police other women's gender expression for not being feminine enough are called phallic women; we don't approve of that either.
Do we hate men?
No, no, no! We love (most) men. Hating all men universally, simply for having penises, is not what feminism is about (or at least not the kind of feminism that we practice). Some men are sexist assholes; some women are sexist assholes; sexist assholery is not gender-specific. Hating men is counter-productive, especially in an industry dominated by straight white guys, a large number of whom are really great to women.
Are we an exclusive women's club?
Yes and no. We welcome male followers of our social media accounts. We welcome engagement from men, and will retweet/share/reblog male writers/journalists if they're writing about women in motorsport. Once our community events (games nights, comedy storytelling nights, etc.) get off the ground, those will be men-welcoming. Motorsport is a community, and that community includes (mostly) men. When the end of 2016 rolls around, it will bring an awards ceremony, and we will have awards that are, by weight of demographics, open to men (eg. team boss of the year, department head of the year, parent of the year, etc.) to recognise and big up the people who are supportive of women's careers. Take notes of cool stuff people do for you, girls, because we expect you to justify your nominations with examples of their cool, supportive behaviour! We will also have awards that are exclusive to women (eg. racer of the year, journalist of the year, engineer of the year, etc.) because we want to celebrate women's achievements.
Do we hate grid girls?
No, we don't hate grid girls. Grid girls are women involved in motorsport too, and deserve to be welcomed into the community, especially since some of them use their modelling work to support their racing habit. (They also use modelling to pay their bills in this tough economy, to get an education, etc., but that's a story for another time.) That said, we would like to have a conversation about the wider motorsport community treating women as sex objects. In the academic literature, believing that women are sex objects strongly correlates with more problematic things like high rape rates, wide pay gaps, and low gender integration. We're not okay with women being 'entertainment' (actual quote from an email between a series boss and a friend of Brij's who asked why they had grid girls). If we're going to have grid girls, we want to get to know them as people rather than as boobs-on-legs.
Do we expect all women in motorsport to be preachy women's lib types?
No. If you are a women who loves fast cars, you are by definition a member of the sisterhood. We accept that there will be a variety of political opinions within the group. Assuming that all women will think or feel the same about a particular topic is an insidious form of sexism, because it doesn't take into account that all women are multi-dimensional individuals with opinions of their own.
Are we fan-welcoming?
Of course! Most people – women included – who end up working in motorsport started out as fans. If you're a fan-woman with a skill you feel could enrich the community, give us a shout! Good at sewing? Great, we could use some Sisterhood-branded purple superhero capes for comic effect. Good at video editing? We can definitely find a way for you to participate. Good at organising functions? As luck would have it, that's a skill that applies to motorsport too. All we require is that you treat other members of the wider sisterhood with the respect you would like to receive.