Response to Post: Op-Ed: The Lady Box – A Classing Dilemma
In my first full season of SCCA solo competition, I was faced with a surprising question for 2018; should I compete in open or a ladies only class. This was my first time entering into any kind of motorsports, although I had been involved in competitive activities most of my life. I was taken aback, almost immediately became defensive, somewhat offended, and quickly answered with driving in open class. I didn’t see a reason to choose ladies class. After all, I was autocrossing for a new experience. Even though I only knew a small group of people and this world was foreign to me, I didn’t feel I needed to be separated by my gender.
As someone who believes in and fights for equality of not only women but all people this ideology made me uncomfortable. Ladies class sounded like a safe place for women to go instead of driving in the big scary world of open class; another push in our society where women are not enough and need their own playing field where they won’t get hurt. A large percentage of women within their early twenties would feel that this way of thinking would be a disservice to not only women in motorsports but women as a whole. Autocross and other motorsports are not heavily dependent upon physical abilities or things that cannot be learned. Women of this day are stepping up to the plate of claiming their own power to make a better tomorrow for girls after them. The act of unnecessarily creating and maintaining a separate class for women perpetuates the idea of us not being good enough, where we are more than capable.
Furthermore the men of this generation often feel the same. I was lucky to already know a few autocrossers coming into the sport, two of them male. Everyone was supportive and excited for me. When discussing open and ladies classes they saw no reason why I needed to drive in a segregated class. Throughout my first season, I developed new friendships and acquaintances often started by friendly conversation in grid or being introduced to others within my class. Some also offering ride-alongs to help improve my driving. Two women later becoming mentors of mine, both helping me to drive fast and smart. One in particular influencing me enough to participate in Prosolos and national events this coming season.
During the course of my first full season, I volunteered as a novice chief in my local region. It was a rewarding experience to be a helping hand to those new to the sport, especially to female newcomers. I was a soundboard to novice women who might feel nervous or inadequate at their first event. Autocross can feel like a boys club to some women, so why is there a need to drive home that feeling of segregation through separate classing? Speaking with women over the course of being a novice chief, it was expressed that having a female in a volunteer position made their experience more comfortable.
I plan on participating in my first national event in 2019. Again, I have to answer the class question. The thought of running a less populated ladies only class is preposterous to me. I might not place as well in open as I would running in a segregated ladies class. But placing is not as important to me as inspiring current and future generations is by having the courage to go against where they are told they should be.
The mention of a men’s only class would be a far fetched idea to most, why is it so far fetched to remove the outdated ladies only class? In one of a limited number of sports where men and women are equal on a physical playing field, is there a segregation of women from men? Women are given the choice of running ladies class or open class. The important part is not the fact that we have the choice, but that this is sending a subliminal message to future generations of female motorsport participants, that motorsport are not a level playing field for them.