Life Before Feminism: When a Woman’s at the Wheel …

Men’s Rightsers and MGTOWers regularly lament what they see as the baleful influence of feminism on everyday life and popular culture. So it’s perhaps worth reminding people what things were really like before modern – that is, second and third wave – feminism.

Second-wave feminism was in its infancy in 1970 when this charming Goodyear ad was shown on the first broadcast of Monday Night Football.

Obviously, the whole “women drivers suck LOL” attitude lives on — in the form of countless dumb jokes, demotivational posters, YouTube compilations, you name it.

But none of that shit hits on the same visceral level as this ad. I think that’s partly because of the smug, patronizing tone of the narrator of the Goodyear commercial, and the hint of contempt that slips into his voice when he mentions the possibility of a mere woman taking the wheel. I think it’s also because to whomever made the ad—and presumably a great number of those watching it — the idea that women are awful drivers is simply considered an incontrovertible fact; the ad isn’t even trying to be funny.

Indeed, this deliberately cutesy vintage Volvo ad, while equally sexist, seems fairly innocuous  by comparison. (My only question is why that poor woman seems to have married her father.)

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on May 8, 2011, in antifeminism, life before feminism, that's not funny!. Bookmark the permalink. 116 Comments.

  1. Oh, you are referring to the Bechdel Test! It is so rare to find a movie that passes.

  2. God, I can’t stand most sit-coms – they make EVERYONE look like idiots.

    I’m just happy to finally have a positive portrayal of someone like me on TV – a smart geeky perky goth girl. Yup, I’m talking about Abby Sciuto from NCIS. Love her!! Sending many thanks to whichever TV exec clued into that fact that being obsessed with death and wearing black doesn’t actually mean a person is depressed all the time:)

  3. Here’s an article about women TV pilot writers that I find to be tangentially relevant:

    Fun fact: Fox TV network produced NO pilots written by women in 2010. 0. Zero. None.

    Money Quote: Male writer reporting his (male) agent’s opinion to female writer, vis a vis her career:

    “He was talking about how you’re lucky because of what you are…You’re a mid-level female writer. People are always going to need one of you in the room. It’s great. You can go from failed sitcom to failed sitcom for the next six or seven years. You’re all set.”

  4. Ernest Chatham MSW

  5. Ernest Chatham MSW

    Women Drivers Compilation – 2009

  6. Ernest Chatham MSW

    Sorry – This is The Women Drivers Compilation

  7. Ernest Chatham MSW

    The other was titled “Yes It’s A Woman”

  8. can you name another woman who has not be svelte, good looking and was just a plain Jane?

    How about Mike and Molly? They’re both obese. The fat jokes were a bit much in the first few episodes, but they’ve evened out. I loved the actor who plays Molly in Gilmore Girls, and now she’s one of the 2 leads of this new show.

  9. And how about Kirsten Vangeness as Penelope Garcia on two versions of Criminal Minds? LOVE her. (and I wish they’d stop getting rid of the other women characters. They got rid of JJ, and replaced her with an almost indistinguishable blond clone. The only way you can tell the difference is that the new one lacks a personality.)

  10. That Youtube compilation is a crock… two of the clips were obviously staged. The one with the BMW in the gas station is from a TV commercial. And the last one, with the white van miraculously skidding into a parking place? Oh, come on.

    So I’m not inclined to think that any of the clips can be assumed to be genuine. Female drivers are, on average, safer than male ones.

  11. I have no idea how fatness came up but it was hilarious. “Fat people can NEVER know suffering! They eat cakes their whole lives and if you’re only eating cakes, you can’t suffer!”

    You know, except for little punks like MRAL who have some weird inner issues when it comes to fat.

    …Wait… I’m supposed to be a bad driver AND steal babies?! But what about the cake?! Who will eat it?!

  12. PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth

    I also thought about Camryn Manheim but that was it. Depressing since I can think of dozens of overweight male actors.

  13. Here are some male drivers:

    This one, when you can see the gender of the driver, it’s always guys. And I would bet a million kazillion dollars that the vast majority of the rest, if not all of them, are guys:

    Oh, and here, for no real reason, is a dude trying to do a backflip off a hummer:

    The point? Neither sex has a monopoly on terrible driving and/or idiocy.

  14. Captain Bathrobe

    Is Sex in the City considered to have a gender-neutral audience? There have always been female-dominated casts in shows that are considered “girl stuff” that guys wouldn’t want to watch.

    I think it was originally intended to appeal to women, but it later crossed over.

    In general, I find that HBO’s shows usually have more appeal across gender lines than ordinary network or cable shows. Of course, their shows also tend to be of a higher quality, and that tends to appeal across the board.

  15. That “women drivers compilation” is totally the “list of quotes from feminists” of YouTube.


    A few pictures of accidents caused by MALE novice drivers in Germany.

    I wish I could mock this topic, but it’s just too sad. Every Monday, EVERY FUCKING MONDAY, when I open the newspaper, there is a story of a young man who got killed in a car accident. Some of them were drunk, but others were simply being reckless despite their lack of driving experience. Sometimes it’s just the driver who dies, but way too often he takes his friends with him.

    And why? Read the Wordle cloud posted by Amanda earlier. These guys all just wanted to prove they’re “men”. So yeah, that is why men’s life expectancy is shorter than women’s. Sorry to have to put the blame on yourselves again.

  17. Laughing gull

    Yaaay! a youtube battle! My vote goes for David in round one.

  18. @Amanda…A quote from you, “NWO that ad wouldn’t make any sense, but anyone who has money can run an ad. People run ads that offend me pretty much daily and I wouldn’t try to stop them. Again, your proposed ad, like the original, would make emotional appeals with no hard evidence to support it. The difference between the two is that there exists evidence to support the original ad, but not yours.

    This might help set things straight for my “proposed commercial.
    And if ya dont like that how about the
    massive sexual abuse of children by women.

    I was looking for the article on that British woman who sexually molested like a dozen or so 10 year onld boy last month but I couldn’t readily find it, I will though. Don’t fret she was diagnosed with that good old “bi polar thingy.” Kill a newborn PPD, Kill a man PMS. Hit a man it’s “that time of the month.” How the hell did women ever get the right to vote? It’s like they’re ticking time bombs, (well, when it’s convenient).

    @darksidecat…A quote from you, “Because, we all know that a woman who committed adultry must not be an abuse victim, she has to be a scheming lying bitch, eh?” Come now, I would never insinuate women aren’t perfect, It’s ALWAYS the mans fault. If a woman commits adultery it’s the mans fault for not meeting her needs, if a man commits adultery he’s an unfaithful pig. The mantra has been recited to men endlessly since birth. Men are broken women.

    @Lydia…A quote from you, “And why? Read the Wordle cloud posted by Amanda earlier. These guys all just wanted to prove they’re “men”. So yeah, that is why men’s life expectancy is shorter than women’s. Sorry to have to put the blame on yourselves again.”

    I’m sure you’re broken up to see dead men, I wonder if the women were cheering them on? Nah, women are perfect. Also as far as driving goes men have 60% of accidents and women 40% however women drive 1/2 as much as men, heres the math. For every 100 accidents men are in 60 of them and women are in 40. Now thake the 40 x 2 to equal the number of miles men drive for a total of 80. So for the same amount of miles men get in 60 accidents for every 80 for women.

    Reading many of the comments I noticed the repeating theme that MRAL “can’t get laid.” I guessing this is a bad thing. Which can only mean either a woman elevates his status by being accepted by the perfect ones, or that sex is a resource women withhold or use in order to garnish a behavior/material gain.

    I do so love coming here to find out how to modify my behavior so as to become more accepted by the perfect ones. Of course I could never actually achieve the infallibility of all women, yet know I might be accepted into the collective moral and spiritual greatness of womanhood for trying to elevate my behavior into satisfying any womans standards, warms my heart.

  19. Wow, that car through the top of the church was, um, special. I think it gives that de-motivational poster a run for its money!

  20. NWOslave, the references to MRAL not getting laid is because he has been the one complaining about it nonstop for the last week or so, which you would know if you had actually been reading the comments instead of skimming.

  21. Well Alex I’d love to stay and chat but work does call. I like to say that I have read many of the comments, obviously since I quoted many of them. His behavior no doubt needs modification. However, “can’t get laid” denotes a sexist deragatory which these perfect impartial feminists threw about with abandon. I do believe feminists were supposed to do away with all these nasty sexist gender roles.

    I mean after a hudred years dontcha think they’d have done that by now? And from their own mouths so to speak, tsk, tsk. I mean wasn’t that what the suffragets were alla about? Strange name, implying suffering. Hmmm, when the little girl cried out, “bring me the head of John the Baptist,” was her suffering that she wasn’t able to personally cut his head off with her own hands? Those evil menz, always taking away a womans pleasures.

  22. Well Alex I’d love to stay and chat but work does call.

    Somehow I doubt that.

  23. PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth

    Yet again, proof positive that NWOslave has no idea about anything.

  24. “Get laid” is a sexist term now? Uh. Speaking as a girl, I frequently “get laid”. So, sorry, no.

  25. Captain Bathrobe

    Women have fewer fatal accidents even when miles driven are taken into account.

    NWO, do you ever get tired of being wrong about everything? Does it hurt to keep pulling these “facts” out of your ass?

    Yeah, and before you go into your passive-aggressive, self-deprecating little rap that you always do: yes, we know you suck. It’s the one thing we all agree on.

  26. evilwhitemalempire


    “I’m confused. Was the spare tire not invented until after the cell phone or something? Because my dad used to have a Bronco, and I could have sworn… but I’m a wimminz. Probably I’m just confused.”

    Not quite my point.
    A young woman changing a flat by herself (regardless of her level of mechanical inclination) at night on the highway without a cell phone might as well put up a neon sign saying “rape me” no? Are there not rapists
    and other boogey men lurking about every corner?
    Or is all that ‘take back the night’ stuff just another excuse to vent your jealousies and get attention?

  27. evilwhitemalempire

    “A young woman changing a flat by herself (regardless of her level of mechanical inclination) at night on the highway without a cell phone might as well put up a neon sign saying “rape me” no? ”

    Darn it! Disregard what I wrote. I forgot.
    NOTHING a woman does is asking for rape.

    If people don’t lock their doors they’re asking to be robbed but a woman dressing provocatively, etc. isn’t asking to be raped.

    Because women aren’t supposed to be accountable for ANYTHING they do.

    Because that’s the whole point behind feminism.
    To extend traditional female unaccountability to a whole new level. To turn the world into a playground for that class of adult children known as women.

  28. If people don’t lock their doors they’re asking to be robbed but a woman dressing provocatively, etc. isn’t asking to be raped.

    Actually, no, leaving your door unlocked isn’t asking to be robbed.

  29. “Or is all that ‘take back the night’ stuff just another excuse to vent your jealousies and get attention?”

    I must admit, I am a bit envious of those that have not been raped. All you smug sons of bitches, flaunting your non-raped bodies! You should all suffer!

    “If people don’t lock their doors they’re asking to be robbed but a woman dressing provocatively, etc. isn’t asking to be raped.”

    Because of course the punishment for dressing in an inappropriate way should not be being made fun of by the fashion police but being raped.That is totally reasonable. Guess the rapists that choose conservatively dressed victims are just doing it wrong?

    How exactly does dressing provocatively hurt others so as to need,”accounting for”?

  30. I’m just laughing at the amount of defensiveness and butthurt over that ‘women drivers’ Youtube video. “It’s not real! it’s staged!!! must scour Youtube for ‘bad male drivers!’ Must find statistics saying men are worse drivers!!! see?? SEE? They’re WORSE!!! HAHahaha!!! I win! I win!!!1111”

    If people don’t lock their doors they’re asking to be robbed but a woman dressing provocatively, etc. isn’t asking to be raped.

    I, for one, enjoy taking midnight walks through bad neighborhoods with 5 kilos of jewelry and a wad of cash hanging out of my back pocket. What do you mean I might get robbed? I’m tired of this victim blaming! I should be free to dress and do whatever I please, dammit! I also leave my car unlocked and with the keys in the ignition. It’s mine, I can do whatever I want.😛

  31. Evil said: “Because women aren’t supposed to be accountable for ANYTHING they do.”

    Why on earth should women be held “accountable” for having a flat tire on a deserted highway? WTF does that even mean? That if they have a flat tire they need to be punished for it?

  32. Perhaps Ion is right. I will avoid getting raped and robbed in the furture by being fully clothed dressed like I am a homeless person. Not to provocative while at the same time looking very poor. No money to steal here. If everyone will do the same rape and robbery will go down to zero! YAY!

  33. @Captain Bathrobe…You are dense, women drive more then they used to NOT more than men. Please learn to read your own links properly.

  34. “@Captain Bathrobe…You are dense, women drive more then they used to NOT more than men. ”

    NWOSlave – Please quote the specific statement Captain Bathrobe made that you are refuting. Oh, right, he didn’t actually say that so you can’t. Please learn to read the comments you’re replying to properly.

  35. @Ion:

    You and other have presented false analogies. Walking in a bad neighborhood with cash strapped to you, or leaving your keys in an unlocked car’s ignition is more like a woman walking up to a known rapist naked and bouncing her bouncy bits in front of him, or bending over and pointing earnestly. That is asking for it.

    What is not asking to be robbed is living in a well-to-do neighbor hood in a fancy house. It is not asking to be car-jacked if you drive a mercedes (however attractive that may be to theives). And it is NOT asking to be raped to dress in sexy (even mildly revealing) ways.

  36. I did remember someone explaining this to me in a bar.

    Women do seem to get into more accidents than men. But these accidents are really minor like “small dent” worthy accidents.

    Men don’t seem to report these small issues as much because men don’t consider these to be accidents and tend to fix them up without insurance coming into it.

    There is however one undeniable piece of statistics. Men are more likely to be in serious accidents. Nearly 75% more likely. Even if we regard women as having more accidents which may be due to reporting errors, men are more likely to die from them.

    Most insurance companies actually charge higher premiums for male vs. female drivers for this reason. The guy who explained this to me was in insurance himself and I do know my insurance was higher than women who I was dating despite often having driven longer than them.

  37. PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth

    Actually Ion-I think you should be able to. I know that it is not a great idea but there should not be the expectation that you will be robbed just for walking down the street looking like a low rent version of Mr. T.

  38. The ad can be interpreted in a few different ways. Yes, one could make an argument for subtle misogynist undertones in the ad. But I don’t agree that the theme is “women drivers suck” necessary.

    Watch the ad again, she’s driving “alone” and at night, on her way to pick up her husband from the airport. But worry not! This car has Goodyear tires, so she’s going to get to the airport safely — which means “more than just mileage.”

    Also, look at how the husband jumps in the drivers seat and she scoots over at the end. She gladly lets her husband assume that responsibility.

    FACT: Most women prefer someone else, whether it’s their friend, boyfriend, husband or father, to do the driving.

    Looking and thinking back to the family dynamics of the 50s, I would say that the ad pretty much portrays “safety” as a selling point for the tires. Sure, nowadays the way they promoted this product seem kind of silly and *gasp* sexist.

    I don’t find the ad particularly offensive either. Especially since most women I know would prefer *not* to do the driving. Heck, they even brag about getting driven everywhere.

  39. Captain Bathrobe

    Ha ha! NWO, half way down the page is a table showing the number of accidents per 100,000 miles driven, broken down by age and gender.

    You are a living study in the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  40. Old Glory’s argument compressed: “This ad isn’t sexist because of [insert sexist stereotype].”

  41. Perhaps Ion is right. I will avoid getting raped and robbed in the furture by being fully clothed dressed like I am a homeless person.

    Yes, Ion is totally right, because — oh shit. Homeless women get raped all the time. Because they are in a vulnerable position, and most rapists are predators.

    Whoops! There goes Ion’s ridiculous theory.

  42. PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth

    The only time I want someone else to drive is when I want to read a book or my best friend is annoying me again.

    Otherwise, *I* drive the damn car.

  43. It’s also a bad analogy because robbery is stealing something, and rape is assaulting a person. Bashing would be a closer analogy. Also, smurf.

  44. evilwhitemalempire:

    I think you have me confused with someone else; I haven’t been involved in any “take back the night stuff”, and I have only the foggiest notion of what such stuff might be.

    As to your proposal that, before the age of cell phones, women signaled interest in SM rape scenes by stopping on the highway and removing a tire from their car, I’ve never heard of such a thing and I find it somewhat unlikely. Admittedly, the leather community probably did steal all the good symbols — but I’m thinking they probably left straight women with SOMETHING more convenient than a thing weighing twenty pounds and covered with road mung.

    And even if they don’t, mechanical breakdowns lacking in ulterior motives are sufficiently common that suggesting that a woman “asks to be raped” by simulating one would be similar to suggesting that a woman might ask to be raped by wearing red nail polish or having attractively-shaped calves — such a signal would produce much offense and confusion, and might possibly even get someone shot.

    Or were guns, like spare tires, invented after the cell phone also? I was given to understand not, based on the estates of my older Texan relatives… but possibly I am confused again.

  45. You know, there is no defense to robbery, theft, assault, or murder called “the victim was just begging for it” either and victims of these crimes are not presumed to be liars if they left their door unlocked, they are not interrogated for hours on witness stands about how they really wanted to be the victim of a crime, they do not come face to face with archaic “upmost resistance” standards that make them have to display that they did everything possible (including violence) to stop the crime or let the perp walk. There actually is an old ABA Journal article satirizing this, available in part here The reality is that we do not actually treat and speak about victims of other crimes the way we treat and speak about rape victims.

  46. A couple weeks ago, my mom rented a giant 24-foot moving truck. If it were five hundred pounds heavier, she would have needed a CDL. Even my dad admitted that she drove it better than he did. Women can be great drivers. All it takes is having a confident attitude.

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