A number of my posts here focus on women, and what empowers/disempowers them. As I was driving to do some chores yesterday, I realized that driving, or being able to drive, is such an important source of power. It gives you the ability to do things, go places, get stuff done, without relying on anybody else! I love driving in the US, with Hindi songs blaring in my car, as I sing along loudly (and often get strange glares). It gives me a feeling of empowerment, ability, control!
It is almost essential to drive in the US, as public transport is often not very time efficient. Sometimes, it does not even exist, and a car is the only option. However, this is fast becoming the case in India as well. Driving yourself gives you so much power to do things on your own, you don't have to wait for unreliable drivers to show up, or get groceries or even go meet friends. Even though one can always take a rickshaw/auto, it is often safer to have one's own transportation.
Yes, driving gives us all Agency, men and women alike. Agency, that one thing that most Indian women have to fight for, or live without. So all of you out there who drive- what are your stories? I was chaperoned by my mother, who would sit in the back seat for all my driving lessons. After all, I could not be allowed alone with a strange man, even if all he wanted to do was finish his driving lesson quickly and go to his next paying customer.
Isn't that true? For every triumph that Indian women make- be it as small as learning to drive, or going swimming (yes, I was chaperoned for that too), there is a small fight, a small victory or a small surrender. That is what life is as an Indian girl/woman, a series of victories and surrenders, against a society and a culture that does not believe in women's agency.
For all that, I'm grateful I learned to drive. And learned to swim. Because I don't need somebody to drive me everytime I need to go get some groceries. Or get some clothes, get a pedicure, get a life. I can drive and get it on my own!
(Image Source: http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/w/women_driver.asp)