Formula E: Home of the suspiciously slow electric race cars, and, apparently, suspiciously high levels of hypocrisy. After welcoming Formula One “to the 21st century” for removing grid girls, something Formula E claimed to have already done, the series’ CEO basically just said, “Nah, just kidding, we’re keeping them.”
Grid girls are an outdated concept that starkly defines the difference between men and women in a sporting arena, and in life, a lot of the time—men are the main show, while women are meant to adorn the sidelines and be valued for their physical appearance. It was a good move by F1 to phase the concept out, but it wasn’t met entirely with cheers and kudos.
When F1 officially announced at the end of January that grid girls would be out for the 2018 season, Formula E, which prides itself on being the future of racing as an electric series, took the opportunity for a harsh and public jab.
“We’re glad to welcome F1 to the 21st century,” a spokesperson for Formula E said, as quoted by Motorsport.com. “Formula E stopped using grid girls last year already, but we just didn’t feel the need to shout about it.”
Formula E used grid girls at its season-opening doubleheader in Hong Kong in December because a local promoter demanded it, but Motorsport.com reported that the official series stance was that it wouldn’t happen again. Instead, the spokesperson said, Formula E would work with putting kids in the role—like F1 said it would do after the announcement on grid girls. From Motorsport.com:
“We’re using a new concept and focusing on grid kids, and where possible we involve young and aspiring drivers that race in junior go-kart championships,” the spokesperson continued.
“It’s a great and emotional experience for these kids to be on the starting grid, next to the drivers and cars that they might drive one day, so hopefully it also works as a good motivation for them.
“The concept is working really well.”
Ha! Not well enough. Just over a week after making fun of F1’s painfully slow steps toward gender equality, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag wondered, out loud, to Motorsport.com about what the big deal was with grid girls. (Keep the bad, contradictory thoughts to yourself, dude.)
The world’s greenest hypocrite, everybody. At least Formula E is still setting itself apart. From Motorsport.com’s report on Formula E’s new stance on the women who male athletes often call “eye candy” and “good scenery” at races:
Series CEO Alejandro Agag told Motorsport.com that he felt “grid girls should be part of motorsport” and could feature in the series again.
“For me, it’s not the most relevant issue today,” he said. “It should be a non-issue. Sometimes we use kids, sometimes we should use grid girls.
“They haven’t done anything bad, it’s part of the visual tradition of motorsport. I am not an enemy of the concept of grid girls at all.
“Formula E will have grid girls. Maybe not in every race, but I think they are part of the tradition of motorsport.”
Ah, yes, Formula E’s grid girls are staying because they “haven’t done anything bad” and are part of a “visual tradition,” because watching cars isn’t enough for the eyes on its own. Good thing they didn’t do anything bad—we wouldn’t want young girls to see women in engineering or competition roles instead of standing by the male-driven cars on the grid. That would upset the balance.
In other news, F1 CEO Chase Carey tole the Telegraph he personally liked having grid girls and would have kept them, but got rid of the tradition at the wishes of fans and stakeholders in the series. But, he assured everyone, F1 will “continue to have pretty girls at races.”
Thank God the straight men will have something to stare at in an objectifying manner, while the people who like racing but aren’t into women will have to settle for looking at cars instead. After all, F1’s executives don’t seem to be keeping track of how many cute boys are walking around the paddock.