Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sexism and gearless scooters

It was late morning of today, and I was driving, on the way to work. I stopped at the traffic signal and had a fairly young girl - she was probably 22 or something - stop to the right of my car. She was on a gearless scooter (one of Honda Activa, TVS Scooty, etc.). Waiting as we all were, my ever-wandering attention wandered to the fact that nearly every girl and woman who drives a two-wheeler in India drives one of the gearless scooters. Advertisements promoting such scooters virtually always pitch them to female drivers. The selling points? They're light, they're hep, they're colorful, they're peppy, they're feminine, and most importantly, they're gearless.

Does the preference for, and use of gearless scooters by girls and ladies symbolize that the weaker sex is indeed weak? Why are boys and men reluctant to drive gearless scooters? Does it make them less manly? Is there some kind of pride in driving a geared two-wheeler? Why don't girls drive geared scooters? Are gearless scooters meant for the girls?

I pondered over these questions, and at last I concluded - even though it might not be apparent to even the girls themselves - that girls have actually made a smart choice by opting for gearless scooters. I've driven a Kinetic Honda and a Honda Activa for many years, and they're hands down easier to drive than geared bikes/scooters. It takes less effort to drive these gearless scooters, which - if you analyze scientifically - puts less stress on your brain and keeps you more relaxed, mentally. In this case, keeps the ladies more relaxed.

So while the guys are busy rejecting gearless scooters in favor of the more complex geared vehicles, the girls have quietly and happily endorsed a simpler - but hardly less capable - technology. Scooter companies seem to love this uptake, as they're introducing many new models in India.

Just to be sure, as the traffic light turned green, the girl on the gearless scooter swiftly zipped ahead of my geared Swift.