China’s World Metropolis Center (WMC) has become the center of controversy recently over their decision to lay out 10 parking spaces intended for women only. As a result, what we assume was a well-intentioned gesture by the shopping center has seemed to upset some people online drawing cries of discrimination. On the other hand, visitors to the mall seemed pleased with the initiative.

The spaces are painted out in bright pink and labeled for their intended use by women only. In addition, the spaces are wider than regular ones by about 30cm (about 12 inches). The increase in particular is what has attracted attention due to its implications that women are bad drivers and require the extra space to park.

According to various media reports the mall claims the larger spaces are to be taken as more of a luxury for the female customers. They see it more of a premium for their target demographic rather than discriminatory. AFP interviewed a female shopper and pink space user who had this to say:

“It’s not gender biased. It’s just that women have a few issues with vision when parking.”
(Women’s parking space user)

While your head is still trying to wrap around that apparently unbiased remark, I’d like to announce that I don’t suck at calculus. I just have a few issues with vision when doing it.

Logic aside, this woman’s general sentiments were shared by many online, calling the move a generous courtesy. However, other commenters suggested the WMC was pandering to deep-rooted stereotypes of women as poor drivers. A spokesperson for the retail center denied this, saying:

“It’s not an insult to women at all. If the parking spaces are larger, it’s only for practical reasons. It doesn’t mean that women drive less well than men.”
(Manager at the WMC)

The mall manager stopped short of saying exactly what these practical reasons are, but anything they or we could give as examples would inherently be sexist by virtue of the fact that it’s a space intended for women. For example, if it’s to avoid dinging other cars with the door then that implies that women can’t open the door properly, which isn’t much better.

Luckily this situation has a simple solution, if the WMC would care to listen to my Solomon-like wisdom. Just rename the spaces to say “For Bad and/or Lazy Drivers.” The women who are currently in favor of these spaces certainly don’t appear to be uptight about their own shortcomings as drivers and still wouldn’t hesitate to use them. However, this would now also include men who can’t drive well… I’m sorry, men who have a few “issues with vision” when parking.

Problem solved and discrimination allegations are out the window. They could even keep the spaces pink if they wanted. With the black asphalt it creates a kind of hip emo vibe. Surely some of them are bad at parking, too.

Source: Wall Street Journal (Japanese), Yahoo! News (English)