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It’s A Man’s Road


October 30 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com. )


Society often puts groups along the fault lines of identity in boxes, which is not fair. I often think I am impervious to such social pressure, but I caught myself last week doing a double-take when I saw a woman driving a public transport bus. To be fair to me, it is not every day that we see a woman behind the wheel of an Anbessa bus instead of a middle-aged man.

The female driver was confident and seemed to know what she was doing as she waited behind the traffic light, looking down on the other cars as if to say, “don’t underestimate me just because I am a woman.”

I felt a sense of pride. Women rising to the top show society that we are bold and brave like men and inspire girls to aim higher.

Not everyone shared my excitement. A man inside a dark blue Toyota sedan car yelled, “don’t run us over.” Had it been a man, he would have been comfortable enough to stand next to the bus or even cut ahead of it. But because this driver was a woman, and there is a stereotype that we do not drive well, the man assumed that it would not take much for her to cause an accident.

Surprisingly, this sad set of circumstances is an improvement from any time in recorded human history. Society used to look twice at women who were driving cars and to this day, a female behind the wheel of an SUV, turns heads. There is even the widely held view that most women with a car have a benefactor, like a father or a partner that brought them one. True, there are probably more women than men that had a car bought for them, but this is only because the female segment of the population is economically disenfranchised.

There is no better way of illustrating how deep this sterotype runs than a common sales phrase secondhand car dealers use: “it’s a car that a woman owned.” It is supposed to signal that, even though the car is secondhand, it has been barely driven and only in easier to navigate streets. It is supposed to indicate that women take no risks when driving cars, and thus the vehicle is probably in tip-top shape.

I remember when one of my friends started driving at first. She used to get nervous at traffic stops, turns and pretty much felt uncomfortable when big trucks were driving behind her. The men drivers used to honk their horns to make her more nervous and she would freeze in the car while other cars went past her. Some kind drivers used to let her pass or turn while others mocked her driving skills not because she was a bad driver but because she was a female behind a wheel.

Parking was another headache, as every valet felt the need to order her around until she parked at the designated spot. Men usually do not experience these things unless they are amateur drivers, and in that case, not to the same extent female drivers are bullied.

As she started to become more confident in her driving skills, my friend started asserting her rights. She started talking back to the drivers that were mocking her and stood her ground and firmly made them accept her as a driver that could make mistakes. She earned some respect after some time but had to be tough to do that. It also changed her because the road is one of the arenas that turns one into an aggressive and selfish creature. We lose our temper as we want to get our way. It is hard to remain calm when traffic is gruesomely crowded and we are trying to get home or to work. For a woman, this means she has to be fierce and unapologetic on the road to make it in a man’s world.



PUBLISHED ON Oct 30,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1122]



Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com.





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