Yeah, Yeah … Men Are Generally Better Car-Parkers Than Women. At Least This Woman, Anyway.

men-better-car-parkers-than-womenI saw this story about a week ago and cringed when I read various headlines all stating the same thing: men are better at parking than women.

It kept recycling itself over and over and over again until it was deigned that I must write about it despite my personal aversion toward the topic.   Why, you ask?  Because for me, it reigns true.  I am a horrible parker.

A new study shows that men are proven to be better car parkers than women.  Why?  It appears to be true due to the lack of spatial understanding on a woman’s part.  Research states that women take approximately twenty seconds longer to park sufficiently than that of a man.  Men were concluded to be better parkers because their concepts of spatial comprehension were triggered faster than women and in a more accurate manner.

Self-proclaimed feminist author Germaine Greer states that the study was “pointless” and detrimental to feminism because all it did was provoke her.  Greer claims that the findings won’t deter her from parking and won’t chip away at the self-confidence she’s built around her driving abilities.

Sigh.

I’m not going to lie.  I know that I’ve got plenty of faults and shortcomings and it makes me human to not only encompass, but admit these things.  Even the really bad things.

I’m a terrible parker.

Let me take that back: I am the worst car parker you will ever meet.  Parallel, parking spot at Whole Foods, it doesn’t matter. I’m a disaster.  I’ve never hit anything (other than the underside of my car on the cement bay dividers), knock on wood, but I am the slowest, most un-graceful car maneuver-er that you can possibly fathom seeing.

However, I can admit this and I feel that makes me the better person.  Better than what, I don’t know; but I do know that it doesn’t make me less of a feminist – or woman – to admit it.



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53 thoughts on “Yeah, Yeah … Men Are Generally Better Car-Parkers Than Women. At Least This Woman, Anyway.

  1. Oddly enough I’m really good at parallel parking but I can’t park in a parking lot space. So weird. I just got home 10 minutes ago and when I went to get stuff out the back of my car I realized there was over 2 feet of space on one side and more like 6 inches on the other side. Of course all my stuff was on the 6″ side of the car…

    I know I have good spatial awareness and I always know where the boundaries of my car are e.g. I can slip through spaces in traffic and back up around large concrete pillars with total confidence. It just doesn’t extend to the parking spot for some reason, the edges of the car just don’t line up with the lines. I am consistently too far back if I pull through so I stop where I think I should then pull forward another foot and that puts me in the right place otherwise my butt is hanging over the line.

  2. Whenever a study like this surfaces, I always jump straight to the variables possibly not accounted for.

    Contact lenses, for example. Women are more likely to wear them over glasses because of societal pressure, and contact lenses tend to fuck with your spacial/depth perception. Did more women in the study have contact lenses than men, and if so, were those women the worst parkers of the female group? Did any men in the group also wear contacts, and if so, were they worse than their non-lens-wearing male counterparts? How did they compare to both lens and non-lens females?

    Maybe the study answered all this stuff and DID account for it, I have no idea, I’m just going off the information in this post.

    • It doesn’t bother me at all that this study says men are better parkers than women because of better spatial awareness – that definitely holds true for me! But also thinking about other factors … if their conclusion that a “better” parker means a faster parker, is it possible that women are more careful than men? Could we drive different types of cars? I’m short, and one of the reasons I am such an awful parker is because it is really hard to see parking lines for a regular parking job in my low-to-the-ground car. I used to drive an SUV and I didn’t have the same problems.

  3. I am not a fantastic driver – ask trees and garbage cans around my driveway – but I am such a good parallel parker that I often have attracted an audience while parking in difficult places. I was taught a ‘secret formula’ by my driving instructor, and it never fails. Ever. And I will never tell anyone!

    Except my daughter.

  4. I’m a good driver and parker. I’m ok with the potential “men have better spatial awareness” thing, but it drives me nuts when guys are just shits about how “women are terrible drivers.” Makes me want to be violent and whatnot.

  5. I’m okay with men being declared “Better Parkers”.

    Just as long as they recognize my superior driving skills, they can have that title :)

    Don’t believe me? Ask any insurance actuary how men vs. women drivers are rated.

    • When I got my driving license, I was included in my dad’s insurance, and the bloke told us that had I been a boy, my dad would have paid twice as much what he was paying with me.

    • Just to expound on the insurance rates a bit (as it’s something that I, as a young man, had to deal with): actually women are involved in slightly more accidents over all, but men, particularly young men, are more likely to be involved in major accidents because they’re more likely to do really stupid stuff behind the wheel, like drive intoxicated, really aggressively, or at unsafe velocity. For instance, the last time I saw a major report on gender distribution, women were slightly more likely to go 7 over but men were much more likely to go 30 over, women were in more fender benders but men were in far more spin outs, etc. These numbers have long been linked correlatively to other studies that show young men are more likely to say they feel particularly comfortable behind the wheel, with the obvious thinking being that they get to feeling too comfortable and take for granted that they’re piloting a several-hundred-pound-metal-death-box. I’d wager it also has something to do with how fiercely idiotic many 16-25-year-old males are. Read the Darwin Awards recently? There does seem to be a demographic.
      Anyway, long story short, the insurance premium disparity isn’t due to overall accident numbers but rather due to those select few who seem intent on culling themselves from the herd.

      • Themselves and whoever gets in their way, you mean.
        If the only fatalities involved in reckless driving were the reckless drivers, I’d be ok with that.

        • Yeah, me too. Well, no, I wouldn’t be “okay with it,” but at least I’d feel it reflected some cosmic justice. As it is, a close friend of mine was killed by a reckless driver (ironically in this case a young female driver under the influence but the point remains) and my blood boils a bit every time I see one.

        • It’s not that I want them to die or anything. It’s just that when I hear there have been fatalities because of something like street racing, then I hear that the only fatalities were the street racers themselves, I don’t feel so bad.

  6. I’m crap at parking because I always have my dad by my side yelling “MIREIA FOR FUCK’S SAKE WATCH OUT YOU’RE GONNA HIT THAT CAR! MIRE! MIREIA! GIRL, COME ON! COME ON DAUGHTER GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT I’M PARKING IT! SAINT VIRGIN MARY!” and yeah, that’s it :)

    • Haha, my dad did the exact same thing! Always yelling at me in the car. I had no problems when I was driving with my mum, but I made the worst mistakes when my dad started yelling. So I just refused to drive, when he was in the passenger seat. That helped :).

      • I had the opposite problem.

        My dad never got to teach me to drive as he died before that could happen, but my mom DID, and it was awful. My mom and I are both really stubborn, and I hate to be criticized, and she loves to nitpick. Winning combination right there. She should have just shelled out the money to let the high school teach me–it would have been easier for everyone involved.

        Honestly, to this day I think she’s traumatized me a little. Every time I get behind the wheel, I have this sudden feeling of intense anxiety, as if someone is going to start criticizing me–even if I’m alone -_-

    • My FIL tried to teach me to drive once. It lasted about 4 lessons before he panicked and grabbed the wheel while I was turning a corner. Apparently he felt I wasn’t going to make the turn and that I was going to hit an oncoming car (really far up the road in a 20mph zone anyway) so instead he grabbed the wheel and steered us in to a telegraph pole. Now I make him sit in the back seat if I need to drive with him anywhere and tell him it’s so he can keep his grandson company.

      I think my dad would have been OK at teaching me but he died when he was little and I wasn’t about to let my granda teach me because he is definitely of the yelling and panicking school when there’s a woman driving which is why I didn’t learn as a teen.

      • Me too.
        mireee, you gotta join that facebook page called “Shit my Dad says.” You’ll crack everybody up.

        My husband has just informed that it’s just this one guy and the shit his dad says, so you need to make your own.

  7. My fiance is a horrid driver- he’s got this tiny car that he can practically park diagonally in any parking space and get away with it, so he does. He’s claimed that he’ll never drive a big car for that reason alone.

    And I admit, when I park, I park really, really slowly. I drive a huge, old truck without power steering, so you have to be careful. Did the study bring that up at all, who drove which cars you need to be careful parking, period? Someone driving a ginormous station wagon is gonna take longer to park, on average, than someone in a brand new sports car.

        • yes Erin now i am pretty relaxed since i bought this car for my gf, now i dont care how she drives. i even dont bother to look at my car even though sometimes i find that it has scratches or a hit at the bumper

  8. Maybe the key to parallel parking is becoming the spontaneous designated driver when your friend is too plowed to drive? I learned how to parallel park in college (it wasn’t on my driver’s test, thank whatever) because of aforementioned drunkeness. And she was really no help at all, so I had to wing it.

    I love parallel parking now. (I also love folding sheets, so yes, I definitely have issues.) I can parallel park like whoa. Usually in one go. Of course, it helps that I drive a wee honda civic.

    But hanging a towel bar? Uh, no. I need a man to do that. I screw it up every time.

    • Hey, I love folding sheets too! I wouldn’t say I love parallel parking but it does give me some satisfaction doing it with my hubby in the car because he can’t do it at all. He always winds up making a dozen adjustments and then giving up a foot from the curb. Mind you, it was on my drivers test and it was about the only thing. As I recall I went across a junction, turned left, did a 3 point turn then parallel parked, then turned right again and back in to the RMV parking lot. I really don’t get why it’s on every test, it’s not something that people have to do very often nowadays since there are parking lots everywhere.

  9. I have no trouble saying that men are *more often* better parkers. It is true, that on tests, more men come out higher in spacial awareness than women. That speaks nothing of any individual’s ability, but I see no bother in identifying observable facts.

    I personally, am a very mediocre parker. I am not awful, and have never hit anything, but often require a few more adjustments than would be ideal.
    I blame this on the fact that I don’t own a car. While I feel sufficiently confident driving, and do it occasionally, and have never had trouble, parallel parking is not something that sticks so well. I just don’t do it sufficently often for it to maintain proficiency. I am okay with this, as it is a hassle, not a danger.

    • Lookit the Chemist generalizing!

      Wow. If you truly are a chemist, that is to say – a scientific person, then you know the dangers of assuming without research.

      My car – a 2004 GMC Envoy SLT with 28,000 miles on it and every bell and whistle known to exist, is in immaculate condition – inside and out. Why? Because my Dad (a mechanic) felt that it was just as important that his daughter know how to take care of a vehicle as it was for his sons.

      I can also drive ANYTHING you can think up – short of a tank, but I know that I’d get the hang of it fairly quickly. I can parallel park a bus if I needed to. Why? Because I was taught how to do it. My parents didn’t have gender issues. At all.

      This is not a sex issue – it is a societal bias issue.
      Period.

      • you might be an exception but almost in all the cases i have found out that women are very careless drivers.
        The recent statistics report issued by United Nations Advisory body stated that 80% of the car accidents happen due to negligence and in most of the cases women were the drivers. I have no sex issues, i believe all men & women are equal. What i meant to say is that women are not better drivers.

        • Lies, damn lies, and statistics. There are so many different factors at play. I suspect that my risk of having an accident is higher than my husband but not because of gender. He generally drives to work and back, 6 miles each way on suburban roads for the most part and exactly the same route every day, but not much else. I drive to many different places, often in the city or places I’ve never been before so the roads are unfamiliar and often busier. Also he’s driving by himself while I have a kid in the backseat most of the time so there’s a distraction.

        • Very good point, Rhonda.

          There are so many variables, but the statistics seem to all agree – on the whole, women are a better insurance risk than men are.

          That is why I posted that particular link – it covered a lot of studies.

          I found it interesting that the risk evened out as the subjects got older, but the disparity was so huge when the drivers were 25 and under that males are still considered (on the whole) to be a worse insurance risk.

          If there is anyone who studies this stuff intently – it’s insurance companies.

    • And it’s good to treat an inanimate object like your baby? I adore my car and try to take care of it to the best of my (limited) ability, but god, I would rather dote on a living creature like my cat than a hunk of metal.

  10. Sarah, I can’t help but feel a bit pissed about the tone of this article.

    Terrible parker? So what?
    Get someone to teach you how to do it! It is a very simple skill, but it isn’t really intuitive, it needs to be taught.

    And my biggest peeve?

    “Self-proclaimed feminist author Germaine Greer states that the study was “pointless” and detrimental to feminism because all it did was provoke her. Greer claims that the findings won’t deter her from parking and won’t chip away at the self-confidence she’s built around her driving abilities.”

    SELF PROCLAIMED???
    Umm…yeah.
    And Paul Revere was a “self-proclaimed” patriot.

    You pulled your information from the Daily Mail (!!!) AND neglected to mention that the difference in accuracy was FIVE percent. Not exactly significant, is it?

    The entire tone of the article is “woe is me, I’m just a woman and I can’t drive”.

    I generally really like the topics that you choose and how you write, but this one is offensive and damaging.

    Look at the chorus of women up there accepting this label^^^

    Sad.

    • The whole world would be a lot better off if everyone could take better stock of their own strengths and weaknesses.
      What’s wrong with admitting when parking is a weak point for you? Hell, I wouldn’t be suprised if some of the studies come out biased due to the fact that women are more likely to admit to their ineptitude than men.

      I agree that parking is a skill like any other, and people who lament their inabilities should go out and learn it, rather than complaining about lack of innate abilities. But it’s a step to at least be aware and cop to the weakness.

    • I’m bad at parking. I’m horrific at math. I can barely keep myself from drowning while swimming. I can’t sew, knit, crochet, or quilt. I am abysmal at several sports. My ballroom dancing skills are pathetic and laughable. I can’t paint to save my life. I’ve never been any good at singing or music in general. I can’t keep plants alive–not even cacti.

      There. That is a list of things that I am bad at. I acknowledge them all and I don’t want to kill myself because of them.

      Now, apparently I should be going out and getting crash courses in all of these subjects because it is unthinkable and unconscionable to ever be bad at anything, but frankly I just don’t care that much. Life is too short to be hung up and all the things I’m not so good at. So instead I’ll write poetry, play video games, make delicious baked goods, put together amazing outfits, and enjoy all of the other things that I am good at. If it’s all the same to you.

      • I’m sorry that you look at it that way, Sydney.

        You can obviously get by without being a math whiz, swimming isn’t important unless you’re a dolphin – and you can get by in today’s world without knowing how to do any type of needlework. Ditto for the arts and horticulture. Dancing? Meh. Unimportant.

        The whole point to this was that a blog was written citing a study that really didn’t draw any strong conclusions. FIVE percent? With a margin for error, what does that really mean?

        I don’t think that it means that society should just roll on this and say, “Yes indeed, women aren’t good at parking.”

        And yes, I was quite honestly astounded at the cavalier attitude taken towards Germaine Greer – one of the most important feminists of the early feminist movement.

        Is this, or is this not a feminist blog?

        I’ll be honest here. I have a very hard time understanding why so many women get their panties in a collective bunch over parallel parking!

        It truly is a simple skill, but one that has to be learned. It takes all of 5 minutes to learn the basic steps, a little bit of practice and you’re a pro.

        I don’t know, perhaps it’s because I have taught 4 kids how to drive.

        I’m sorry if you took this personally, but I seldom hide my head in the sand and “make nice” if I think something is fundamentally wrong.

        And this was wrong.

      • Just in case any of that response is to me, I’m going to clarify. The important part of my post was that people who *lament* their inabilities should go on out and learn them. As in, if you care, fix it, or at least do your best to fix it, rather than complaining, or considering it a lack of innate ability.
        I totally support accepting inabilities you don’t care about. I, for one, suck at any sport involving a ball. My spacial awareness is just not there. I don’t find this a sufficient impediment to my life to care enough to do anything about it.

        • I’d also add that there are several things that everyone really should know how to do. I hear people say that they can’t sew on a button or cook the simplest of things or do basic household repairs. Sure you could pay someone to do all of those things but it’s kinda ridiculous. Think how much time it takes to take a piece of clothing to the tailor and how much it costs to have a button sewn on or a hem mended. It takes a few minutes and costs pennies to do it by yourself, you can do it while watching TV. My MIL just paid a couple of hundred dollars to have someone come in to fix her toilet; I performed the same repair on my toilet a few months back for less than $20 and it took less than an hour. Sure they’re not essential skills in modern life but they sure do make life better IMO.

        • I personally agree with you 100%, Rhonda.

          As a single Mom of 5 (chant with me now – 4 down, 1 to go!), I had to learn how to do all manner of things.

          I can now do basic car repairs (brakes and the like), minor plumbing and my all time favorite (not!) drywall repair.

          It was either I do it or we did without and my house would have been a shack within 10 years.
          The weird thing is, now that I can afford more, I simply cannot bring myself to pay someone to do it. Except the brakes – my sons now happily do that for me.

        • My mother has been a single mother since the time I was little. She has lived in a rental house all her life because that means someone else comes in to fix stuff. When she needs sewing done she takes it to a seamstress; she can sew on a button but that’s about it. She buys a ton of ready made food; not full on TV dinners but stuff like frozen pies, jarred sauces, frozen fries, and the like. She also buys various cleaning things that there’s really no need for e.g fancy brand names toilet cleaner instead of bleach, spray cleaners instead of vinegar, and laundry detergent instead of making her own.

          If you’re a high powered executive working 60-70 hours a week then by all means spend more money on shortcuts like picking up take out or hiring someone to paint your home or whatever. If you’re a single SAHM with hours to spare to do this stuff by yourself then maybe you should be doing it.

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