Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why Richard Petty will always get a big FUCK YOU from me

Yes, I know he's retired, but that doesn't mean he still can't be a misogynistic asshole, right? Isn't it obvious when he and his wife had 3 daughters and 1 son, yet it's only Kyle Petty who followed in his footsteps? I wonder what type of supportive role the women are in.

"When I shook hands with Richard Petty I thought I'd get frostbite," Guthrie wrote. "Later, he would be quoted as saying of me: 'She's no lady. If she was she'd be at home. There's a lot of differences in being a lady and being a woman."'
Janet Guthrie was the first woman ever to compete in the World 600 in 1976 and there have only been 3 women after her: Shawna Robinson, Patty Moise and Robin McCall. Danica Patrick competes in the Indy 500 (of which she is currently in 6th position according to Nascar Nut since I won't watch it).

In 1976, what started out as a publicity stunt ended up breaking barriers for women in NASCAR much to the chagrin of drivers such as Richard Petty, who later had to admit Guthrie had gotten in the hard way, by earning the spot:

Petty admits he wasn't thrilled with the thought of women drivers 30 years ago. He still isn't, saying they are more of a distraction than a threat to challenge male drivers.
Because women are so distracting wrapped up in heavy flame retardant suits complete with helmets wrecking their perfect hair day, strapped into a car so tight that they can't move anything but their arms and feet. Yeah, I'd say that fiberglass shell they drive upwards of 250mph for 500 miles is very distracting ain't it?

What struck me most about this article is how feminist Guthrie's and the various women who supported their husbands racing careers were, including Lynda Ferrari who had never even been to a NASCAR raceway but was willing to support Guthrie regardless:
It was early morning and Guthrie was in the spectator's area changing into her uniform because there weren't any women's restrooms in the garage.

"Here's this good-looking gal that has hair teased up to about here and false eyelashes," Guthrie said. "She said [Guthrie uses her best Southern accent], 'Oh, I'm so tired. I didn't get to bed until this morning. I was lapping in the valves.'"

It was Katie Ballard, the wife of driver Walter Ballard.

"I said, 'Well, how come you're not in the garage area with the rest of the crew?'" Guthrie said. "She said, 'Oh, I wouldn't do that. That's for the men.'

"I used to see her sometimes on the outside of the chain-link fence peering in. Needless to say, there was the whole Steel Magnolias tradition going on down here."

That point was driven home further when Ferreri was denied entrance to the LMS garage because she was wearing a dress. Guthrie recalled a conversation with Ferreri later. "She said, 'Haven't you noticed how when a profession starts to be engaged by women, it loses some status?'" Guthrie said. "She said that's why NASCAR doesn't want us here. They're afraid the sport will be denigrated."
Yes, have they? Because its been happening throughout the history of humankind and that may very well be the main reason women are having a tough time breaking into the "good 'ol boy camp" of NASCAR as it threatens what has been deemed a manly power: the ability to drive a car. And by relinquishing that control to women, you know, those lowly Jezebels', men would thus be forced to abdicate some of their power and knowledge.

When cars were first made, women didn't drive them. Men made them so perhaps it was only *natural* that only men drive them. Even now, when we see a car on the road with all sorts of work done to it, we assume it's a male owner/driver and that it is an extension of his small penis, yes?

This is why women like Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick have made, and are currently continuing to make, great strides in a sport overwhelming run by white men. However, I see this great need to pretty Danica up and make her "feminine" as ludicrous and contradicting the point of women drivers in NASCAR.

Before I go off in another direction that I'm not feeling up to sparring with entirely (that whole Male Gaze and the need to pretty up Danica Patrick), I'm going to stop here.