27 July 2014

The parking spaces outside a Chinese shopping centre are distinctive.  Marked out in pink signposted 'respectfully 
reserved for women', they are a foot wider than normal.

The slots at the Dashijiedaduhui - or 'World Metropolis' - centre have raised question in China, where gender equality is officially embraced but old-fashioned sexism is rife in reality.

The mall, in the centre of the northern port city of Dalian, has little to distinguish itself form thousands of other retail complexes that have been built as part of a countrywide urbanisation drive.

It has chain clothing stores fast food franchises, lifts, a cinema and the inevitable Starbucks, a favourite hang-out of China's new middle class.

Unusually, though, the 10 spaces outside the main entrance were provided,after women had trouble parking in the standard basement spaces.

Apparently it's because some women have issues with parking and the management wanted to make it easier for women, who make up most of their customers.

But outraged commentators on Chinese social media have accused the retail outlet's managers of sexism.  Although China proclaims the sexes equal in keeping with Communist principles, conservative attitudes remain deeply ingrained and women are a rarity in the upper echelons of Chinese politics and the ruling party.

Advertisements in the world's biggest car market are invariably aimed at male buyers (as they are here in the UK!), and a customer at the retail outlet maintained that women don't really know how to park a car and often ignore their mirrors.

Driving standards in China are often lamentable, regardless of gender.  According to state media reports, 60,000 people died on the roads in 2012.

The parking initiative is not unprecedented - other countries have similar female-dedicated spaces, including South Korea and various European nations (I wish they had them here in Britain).

According to a World Health Organisation estimate last year, 77% of all road traffic deaths occur among men.  Even so, for some social media users the Dalian parking places amounted to discrimination against male drivers.  
'It's always women who enjoy privileges', complained one blogger, and went on the say 'now men have become the weaker sex.'


It seems we do have at least one such car park in Britain: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/women-only-parking-bays-backed-918634

A few laughs: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTKFaBvW6oc and 

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