You wanna know what motivated me to being a better writer? Back when I was 16, I loved writing about Professional Wrestling. WWE, TNA, ROH, Evolve… you name it. But I was in WAY over my head and was plagiarising other people’s match notes, but with adding my own two cents in the end. Eventually, I got found out by a great writer called “Hustle” who was on Lords of Pain, a more famous Wrestling site. I was humbled that day, and I promised myself I’d get better at it. I hope that I have in the eight years since. Luckily, I consider Hustle a good and supportive friend now.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I feel like I’m doing you all an injustice sometimes, and I thought I’d dedicate today’s 30 in 30 post into the fact that yeah, I need to do better.
Take this post from IndyCar legend Gil de Ferran from a couple of days ago:
— Gil de Ferran (@GdeFerran) March 10, 2017
Now, I’m going to be honest with you here, being a red-blooded male, on the face of it, it seemed like a pretty cool post. (I mean shit, Will Buxton liked the tweet too) Let’s be honest, I think a lot of people would love to be able to date someone that has similar interests. But it’s also something that objectifies women in Motorsport, a lot.
Women aren’t going to Motorsport events to hook-up with horny, predatory men. I know, and are close to women that have had harassment from men at events because they can’t believe someone could be a girl, and be down there. “I have to get in their pants now.”
And yet… I joked about that same tweet to a very close female friend of mine, a potential partner. It was at that point where I went, “What, the fuck am I doing?!”
I’d like to say this was a one-off, but if I’m being truly honest with myself, it isn’t. In my earlier days, I’d always be much more likely to follow someone back on Twitter if they were a female. There’s a tweet in my likes right now from another good female friend of mine that was talking about: “Getting you a woman who’s into sports”. January 2017, with one of my best friends who had come all the way over from the States, I was still defending Sebastian Vettel’s still “Grid Boys” joke from Monaco 2015, acting like a damn child because his precious women were taken away.
And this is coming from me, a guy who’s tried very hard to channel the Motorsport101 platform into talking about the inequalities that Motorsport has, with women, with people of colour, or lack of money. Yet, I myself can still be exploiting my male privilege in this space. On that front, I need to better, and be more aware of myself, and what I’m doing.
So, to the women of Motorsport out there, fans, drivers, whoever you are… I’m truly sorry. I can’t be riding both sides of the pine like this, and if I’m truly going to be a support of women in Motorsport, I have to try and absolve myself of previous sin.
I’m so fortunate to be in the position I’m in life, as a man, let alone one who has some incredible friends who are female Motorsport fans, journalists, Podcasters, writers, etc. Even dating one right now. These people have been inspiring, and indirectly, teaching me to become a more open, accepting, Motorsport fan. For someone like me, who loves them all very dearly, I don’t want to let those people down anymore.
It has an impact too, most don’t even realise. Last week, I saw that in the last three years, female attendance at race events are down 8%. EIGHT. In three years. How much do you want to bet that seeing all those Monster Energy Girls are a big part of the problem here?
I openly admit, these are pretty hollow words from me, and it’s the actions where it’ll truly count, and I pledge that I will continue to support Women in Motorsport to the best of my ability, checking my male privilege at the door, and making M101 a platform for equality and misrepresentation. I just hope you all can forgiving me in slipping up every once in awhile.
And of course, before I sign off for the day… Rest in Peace to the late, great, (Sir) John Surtees. My words here will never be able to do him justice, but one of the most incredible talents Motorsport has ever seen. And from what I’ve seen from many here, a great man too. Catch you all tomorrow.