Whether it is truly an effort to be more “female friendly” or just a boldly pink jab at the old adage that women are bad drivers, South Korea’s parking areas in the capital Seoul will now contain spaces reserved just for women. While some are calling this interesting addition to infrastructure rudely patronizing, and even sexist against men, South Korean officials claim that they simply want to make parking more comfortable for women. The parking spaces feature a brightly painted pink female form in a mini skirt and South Korean officials claim they were not designed in any way as a reflection of the driving skills of any particular gender.
The new parking spaces are however, extra-wide as well as being extra-long and in addition to the mini skirt lady logo, the boundary lines are also painted in ultra-feminine pink. While perhaps these dimensions were set simply with an eye for comfort, the extra maneuvering space has lent support to the argument that South Korea is operating under a patronizing premise when it comes to women’s driving abilities.
The already nicknamed “she-spots” are not only larger in dimension; they are situated in well-lit areas and are closer to the elevators, which offers an increased measure of safety. While this type of safe parking arrangement has been used by numerous locales in the world and women have been encouraged to use them, especially at night, this is the first time such parking spaces have been enlarged, and painted pink.
In addition to the new gender specific parking spaces, the push to make South Korea more female-friendly also includes resurfacing some of the walking areas with spongy material designed to be more user friendly to women in high heel shoes. Further, the country has invested in 7,000 new toilets throughout the city of Seoul that are designated for women only. As of yet, South Korean officials have not indicated whether or not men will be fined for parking in pink spaces or otherwise using female facilities. It can be assumed that given the limited number of spots, women are free to park in whatever space suits their needs.
The assistant Mayor for Women and Family Affairs in South Korea, Chon Eun-hee is fully onboard with the latest parking space developments. She is quoted by The Korean Times as saying that they have simply added a “female touch” to what was already a “universal design.” In fact, the concept of “women only” parking spaces with revised dimensions is a design that has been implemented in the Black Forest town of Triberg, Germany. However, the mayor of that town, Gallus Strobel made no bones about why the parking spaces were created simply saying that men are better at parking than women are. For this statement, he was labeled by one female critic as a perfect example of “male pig-headedness.”
Although some women may take offense at the structural insinuation that they cannot skillfully park in standard sized spaces, or the idea that because they are women they require special considerations, it is likely that many South Korean women are paying little attention to any potential insult. Instead, they are probably quite pleased with the arrangement and intend to take full advantage of having cushy parking spaces, closer to amenities minus the competition for parking from men. The competition between women however may be fierce as they vie for the limited spaces that offer such an abundance of convenience.
Opinion by Alana Marie Burke