Being a woman in the world of motorsport can be a real downer. Women end up being something of a novelty to be drooled over instead of taken seriously, which means we still have to keep talking about how the racing world can do better. It would be great if we didn’t have to say this, but please, folks. Do not ask a seventeen year old girl for a tramp stamp autograph. You are adult males. This is bad, and you should feel bad for doing it (or finding it amusing).
NASCAR K&N and Lucas Oil Off Road Series driver Hailie Deegan is seventeen years old. Due to the fact that she’s a woman who also happens to drive a car, that means she’s subject to vaguely creepy dudes asking her to sign their tramp stamp.
I don’t want to hear a single argument that she obliged, which means it’s okay. I’ve talked about it before. Women in racing can be asked to do things that make them uncomfortable, and sometimes, they do it. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to keep asking!
It’s kind of weird in general to have a driver sign your body, but y’know what? I get it. It’s cheeky. It can be funny. If you want to ask a driver to sign your stomach or your boobs or what-have-you, there’s not anything I can do to stop you. But it stops being cute when you’re asking underage drivers to do it.
In the ideal world, female drivers wouldn’t have to entertain weird dudes in order to be successful. This is not the way she should have to build a fanbase as opposed to, say, being fairly judged for her talent (a revolutionary concept, I know). This is, unfortunately, not an ideal world—but that doesn’t give you a free pass to be be a creep. We should not be reinforcing the misguided belief that women in racing are pieces of meat to be ogled and objectified—especially not when they’re, y’know, seventeen.
I’ve been on the receiving end of creepy requests. I don’t like going to race tracks and being asked to pose for pictures with random guys. I don’t like being asked to take my shirt off. But I have the luxury of being able to tell those folks to kindly piss off. Up-and-coming drivers who are trying to please both sponsors and fans in order to find success don’t have quite the same leeway.
It is the year of our lord 2018. It’s high time we all mature just a little bit. A drink and a race track does not mean being weird to underage girls is okay. It does not mean being weird to women in general is okay! No one should feel obligated to play to odd requests just to maintain basic support.
Let’s do better, folks. Let’s treat our ladies in racing like the human beings they are.