We often talk about how women get treated differently or are represented less in the car and motorsports industries—things that have long catered (and often still do) to the man’s man. But in 2019, more and more women are involved in it than ever, to say nothing of how we’re half of all drivers and most of the new car buyers. No matter what we do, some of that regressive attitude remains, and those of us who don’t fit the mould get targeted because of it.
For those of us who work in and around cars, the hate and harassment comes at work, where we should just be able to clock in, do our jobs, and clock out, without all of that.
If you want to know what that feels like, or if you want to be a part of changing that for the better, maybe give this a listen.
Our friend David Obuchowski, whose “Tempest” podcast began right here on Jalopnik and continued for a second season on Acast, wanted to talk about those experiences—the experiences of women who write, produce videos and do other public work in the car industry, including myself—for this season’s finale.
When David emailed to ask about some of the hate mail, nasty comments, and general harassment I’d received in my career for the episode, my first thought was whether he had all day, or maybe even a week. It’s no secret that it can be pretty terrible to be a woman on the internet, no matter what you do.
But we managed to keep the talk down to a couple of hours, and there was obvious surprise in David’s reactions at just how bad some of the stuff was. I’m sure that was the case with the other women he talked to as well: Jodi Lai, the Editor in Chief of autotrader.ca; Stef Schrader, a longtime auto writer whose work can be found here and at a plethora of other automotive sites; Kristen Lee, my colleague at Jalopnik; and Deb Lee, from the Andie the Lab YouTube channel.
I, like everyone else, heard the episode when it published, and the setup made it that much more powerful. David began with various male writers and producers in the car industry, asking them the basic question of whether anyone had ever disagreed with their writing. Yes, they said, but David followed up: “How many of these emails, tweets, comments brought their gender into it?” None.
Then, David came to us. We all read a selection of things we’d been sent or dealt with in person, which range from hate to harassment. But like David mentions, it would’ve taken ages to include them all. He highlighted a small selection to convey the general idea, and we all related them to the bigger issue in the car industry—that for us, the bar is different and the experiences are as well.
It should be said that I’ve learned to laugh the emails and comments off and compartmentalise my anger at the general climate of cars, because if I didn’t, I’d be mad all the time, and that’s no way to live.
But it’s worth being angry about because there’s still a lot of work to be done to make cars—and every other crevice of the world—a kinder and more inclusive place. That starts with understanding the experiences of others, and if you want to know more about the experiences of the women whose automotive work you might read or watch regularly, this episode of Tempest, embedded above and also available here, is a great place to start.