Sunday, 14 January 2007

Where the Bloody Hell are we?

Where the bloody hell are you? If you think these words are offensive, you are not alone.

Would you believe this is the slogan chosen by the Australian Tourism Commission to entice international travellers to make the costly and timely journey across the ocean to our fair land? Well it is.

The ad made its debut quite a number of months ago, but at the time, it set the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons...if you know what I mean.

The ad was banned in the UK for its "bloody" reference; a phrase that is as commonly used within the Australian take on English, as "umm", "err" and "barbie".

We might not be an overly sophisticated bunch, but we do like a good laugh. So, of course the hoo-ha over this very Aussie ad was spoofed many times, just to highlight how much worse it could have been. I will refrain from providing a link to such spoofs, erring more on the side of good taste, although I have to admit...I was just a little bit tempted.....ok, more than a bit.

Anyway I am completely off track , if you'll pardon the pun, for I was going to talk about navigation, driving and gender pride concerning both.

Women stereotypically get a bad wrap concerning both touring tasks. According to blokes, there is scientific proof that women are bad drivers. Men might even go so far as to claim that good driving requires a gene, which women lack. Either way, the joke that "women are bad drivers", sees men across the generations, jumping into the driver's seat of the family vehicle, practically without question; without comment or even notice - unless of course, alcohol is being served at the other end, then suddenly all confidence is placed into the sturdy sober hands of women.

Under normal circumstances, when alcohol is not in the picture, the idea that women are bad drivers, leaves women to handle the map and guidance duties, which we are also, supposedly, notoriously bad for.

Basically, women can't win whatever task we volunteer ourselves for, or are relegated to do. We are destined for criticism, failure and disappointment.

My Mum ONCE navigated my Dad into a cul-de-sac - do you think she has EVER lived that down?

I don't know about you, but I resent this boys club mentality concerning driving.

I was initially taught to drive by my Dad in his beloved Holden "ute". It was a manual column shift arrangement (groan).

My Dad taunted, sighed in frustration and yelled at every possible opportunity and with evey bunny hopping jolt I nervously made, to the point where I could take his antics no longer; stopped, exited the vehicle and walked away with his tormenting blaring into the back of my skull. After a few moments of this, I responded, using rather terse words, with the suggestion that he might like to stick his ute where the sun don't shine. Soon after that it was decided that I have a professional teach me to drive - much to everyone's relief.

I still can't drive a manual vehicle. I have tried since.... but I became panicky when I didn't change gears as smoothly as I would have liked. I did the time warp, returning to that wounded 16 year old being scolded and berated by my Father. Next came a rather comical display, of me, flying into a shameful, insane rage on the side of some street; repeatedly sinking the boot into the tyre of that poor unsuspecting vehicle. It is not a moment I am proud of....

I am a good driver, albeit in an automatic only. After that I have flatly refused to EVER get behind the wheel of a manual vehicle.

A hiking friend of mine (another manual driver) asked whether she could teach me to drive her car. I declined the offer. To entice me, she attempted the guilt trip, asking what would happen if she should injure herself on one of our hikes, preventing her from driving. I told her that she would be stuffed! Not very compassionate I know, but my nerves are shot as far as the manual vehicles go, and I didn't want to frustrate her nor embarrass myself with a repeated episode of wobbly chucking, as I did the last time.

I do, however, feel I am pretty good at navigating. I know how to read a map, WITHOUT turning the map upside down when we turn a corner (another fabled claim about women navigating), and I can't remember a time when I have lead my husband, or anyone else, down the wrong path. In fact, I am very confident in my navigational skills.

My husband is also a good driver, he is more assertive than me , and so when we drive together I don't mind letting him take the wheel. His navigation skills, on the other hand, are not as good as mine.

On a UK trip from Grimsby in Lincoln shire to Birmingham in the West midlands, he somehow managed to direct us to Norwich. With each suggestion that perhaps we were going the wrong way, he assured me that we weren't. Until we got to a sign that suggested the seaside was approaching and I was forced to stop and check the map for myself.

It took us a good hour to right that little wrong, and I let him drive after that. So with that memory firmly in tact ,I asked my husband - for experimental purposes, which touring duty he felt superior in: driving or navigating? In hindsight, I think he sensed a trap. For he hesitated for a moment and replied in a rather uncharacteristically defiant and gritted-teeth tone, "BOTH!"


Why is it so hard for men to give ANY credit to a woman's driving skill or to admit slight weaknesses in their own, albeit the driving or the navigating? Test it out. Ask your beloved if you can take the wheel for your weekend drive together. How does he react to your request? And if you get that far, how does he behave while you are behind the wheel? Is he relaxed and chatty or sulky, overly critical, super cautious or snitchy and on edge? How is he with the map? Does HE turn it around when you turn a corner? Is every street a cul-de-sac?

I have a theory....blokes take the wheel, because they aren't so good with the map, or....perhaps they don't like it that they are not in control when the woman is behind the wheel. Oooohh, did I say that out loud?


shishyboo said...

oooo you are a stirrer!

I didn't get my licence until I was 24 and am still not a confident driver ( I won't say I'm a bad driver just extremely cautious, maybe to a fault) and hence do not like driving at all and only drive when I have to.

Needless to say, I can not drive a manual and have no desire to learn.

My Hubby knows how I feel about driving and only pokes occassional fun at me (and only when I'm in a good mood). He always takes the wheel (unless there is alcohol at the end of the trip, like you say).

Map reading is another matter, sadly I do get quite disorientated at times and we have been known to pull over so Hubby can find out where we are. Given time, I can get us where we're meant to be but I'd much rather know how to get there before we start the trip.

Again Hubby has been known to poke fun, but only when he know's it's safe to do so hehehe

Heather said...

shishyboo, you are not helping our cause. Hmmm, what I hate is when you do make a mistake, simply because it is expected. I always feel uptight and nervous when driving my dad around. He corrects me and I can feel that he never relaxes for a second. As if I am going to run him into a tree at any moment. What is it with Dad's. Geez!

shishyboo said...

Sorry, I should add that I have many girl friends who are confident & excellent drivers.
And I have come across male drivers (example my father in law) who scares the living crap out of me with their driving.
Does that help?

Tracey said...

I kangaroo hopped an automatic when I was first learning to drive, after I'd been learning first on a manual!!!

I am glad that I got to learn and get my licence on a manual, simply from a flexibility point of view. I'm glad I'm not learning to drive now..(so I understand what you mean about learning now to drive a manual). I feel like I've lost confidence with age, rather than gained it, although I wouldn't mind doing a 4WD course, simply so that I might be more capable of taking the wheel in an emergency once we get 'out bush' more as we plan to do. I drove a manual, for more than 20 years before I/we even owned an automatic, and would you believe, I hated the auto at first because I didn't feel like I was really 'feeling' the car drive! (Now I've gotten a bit lazy though!)

OH (The Other Half) and I have some pretty famous navigational spats. He is just bloody impatient,[there's that aussie adjective) usually when we're on a freeway with him driving at around 100km, and he's suddenly put me under pressure to select the exit we need, in 30 seconds. If he didn't hassle me, I wouldn't make mistakes, I tell you!

When it comes to navigation, I have to say he is quicker and more intuitive than me. (That doesn't mean I'm bad - he's just better, dammit.) And he has an almost photographic memory for places he has been, and a much better sense of direction than me.

He's also a better driver than me; god it pains me to admit it! But he has had a lot more driving experience with his job (which also paid for him to do stuff like 4WD courses.) I'm not a good night driverl - I don't think I have good night vision - but it doesn't bother him. He does the bulk of the driving when we're together, but I usually take a turn on a long trip so he can have a power nap.

I always reckon that he only kept going out with me after I passed the test of being able to drive the (manual) Kombi he had at the time.

He must think I'm an ok driver as he doesn't have any trouble falling asleep while I drive. Either that, or he'd rather be unconscious! No, seriously, he has reasonably high standards (as a passenger); he has to travel with a few varied colleagues, and even he admits those he rates as good or bad drivers are not split along gender lines.

(Sorry! This got a bit long - you've given us all something to say!!)

Heather said...

Ha ha, oh my. This is a debate. I wrote before about my dad. I am not a teenager. I just can feel like one, if I happen to be driving him for whatever reason.

Now strauss, let's hear your take on the old tradition of the 'Aussie BBQ'. Tell me the truth, have you ever seen a woman cook a barbie. The men won't let us near one!

Women have to make the salads and keep the chip bowl filled. I've also noticed that the men go around to all the other men and offer up the beer and other refreshments, however the ladies would remain parched if they didn't go and help themselves.

It is a damn club. Secretly... I'd hate to cook the barbie, but it is still an ineresting social experience. ;)

Sorry for going off the subject...

strauss said...

Heather, I cook every OTHER meal. I say let them have their BBQ. In fact...lets have MORE BBQ's!

Oh and...secretly I WISH I knew how to drive a manual, for the flexibility. But we don't have a second manual car anymore, so the regret about that has waned somewhat.

Nice debate though :)

Tracey said...

LOL- the BBQ syndrome! So true, Heather!, but I'm with strauss on the 'let there be more BBQs' in our house at any rate, for the same reason. It's the only way to share the cooking. I love weekends and holidays - and I really miss it when he is working away for a few weeks.

Again, his Nibs is annoyingly good at BBQing, and I know I could never match his judgement at cooking the steak just right. So I don't even try.

At gatherings I've come across a lot of men who aren't that good at BBQing though!... unless you like burnt sausages! (The kids have never come across anyone who can do BBQ sausages as good as 'their Dad') But my brother in law is completely hopeless. He expects my sister to do all the 'inside' stuff, but then he wants her to come out and tell him when the meat is ready!

monkeyinabox said...

This blog post is brilliant. You know, like in the same way as those Guiness Stout commercials. Brilliant!

Next month I have a huge road trip driving extravaganza where I was planning to do the bulk of the driving based on my possession of testosteron. After reading this, I'm re-thinking the plan. So what if she is used to driving on flat bare pavement, no snow, no mountains, and on the other side of the road? Hell, I'll even leave the navigation up to her. That way I can focus on the more important things like the music on the stereo.

If I get the death stare or look of shock I can simply hand over a print out of this blog entry. Maybe I should get your phone number for backup (oh wait, I already have it). Brilliant!

Heather said...

Like you'll be focusing on the music monkey! ;)

strauss said...

Ho Ho Ho Monkey - you ar so funny. If you show up to my place saucer eyed and white knuckled - I will know why. I DARE you to agree OR offer!!!!

Catherine said...

I learned to drive manual in college... five car accidents later, I realized that maybe it's not really for me.

Allan is a crabby driver. Impatient. Easily pissed off. And, on the rare occasion that I indulge in deep conversation with him while he's driving, downright dangerous. Good thing he's smart enough to keep his criticisms of my driving to himself. ;)

But what a great post!