On Saturday, a nearly 12-minute video went on YouTube claiming to investigate its title: “Where are the Car Girls?” But the answer to that question couldn’t be found in the video. Instead, it was in the comments section—where a wider, more telling representation of the car industry decided to show up.
First, here’s the video. If you don’t have the time to watch it, it isn’t necessary to understanding the bigger picture in this blog:
We women at Jalopnik don’t agree with how everything in this video was done, and we weren’t enthralled by it all. Some parts, like starting the story off with a woman who isn’t at all interested in cars, made us cringe a bit, and the video’s premise was off.
It ends with the male narrator calling viewers to bring more women into the industry, yet highlights how rare women are. If you’re trying to attract a certain audience, like women, it’s far more inviting to make people of that audience look cool and respected—something others would aspire to be—than to focus on how a person fitting that description will really, really stick out if they get into this kind of thing.
The channel also isn’t doing the best job to seek out and feature car women, as it called itself out about not having women in its diversity interviews in another project at the beginning of this video. The narrator blew it off as, “That’s not us trying to ignore women, it’s a reflection of reality.” Yikes.
But the most telling part of the video was the response. The video description says it “tr[ies] to find out” what’s keeping women from being more interested in cars, but the answer is easy: It’s right there in the comments.
It should be said that YouTube, in general, is a comments cesspool. They aren’t good, and they probably never will be. It should also be said that many women who have been in the car industry for a while become immune to this kind of thing, because, frankly, a lot of us don’t care what other people think.
But put yourself in the place of a woman who wants to make a substantial time investment into becoming a knowledgeable car enthusiast (because you almost always have to prove your knowledge about this stuff, if you’re a woman), and read these comments.
Then, decide if you’d actually want to do it. (Hint: probably not.)
(The above, and the other comments like it, appear to be about featured driver and car model Savanna from the video.)
There are plenty of reasons why joining any male-dominant industry or culture as a woman isn’t inviting. It’s a constant fight to prove you know what you’re talking about, you’re often judged for your looks rather than your knowledge, and the verbal aggressions, small gestures and reactions to your presence are a continual reminder that there are people who think you shouldn’t be here.
Like other male-dominated areas, fostering more female car enthusiasts will depend on more factors than we can even begin to name. The societal pressure against the creation of a female car enthusiasts starts with that cheesy gender reveal with pink cake or confetti in some balloon that dictates girls are supposed to like that color, and, as evidenced by the countless comments on this video, the emails we female car writers get, and the comments we have to read about ourselves here, on Reddit or anywhere else, it never ends.
Until people can realize that and fix the deep problems that affect a woman’s participation in industries like this, there won’t be a massive change. For the women already here, it’s a daily fight to normalize our presence that eventually turns into a numb, buzzing annoyance. We’ll make it happen, eventually.
Wait a second, never mind. This silly “car” hobby will probably go to shit before we get that done. That’s just a consequence of us women being here, after all.