An attempt by a shopping centre in Dalian, China to “accommodate” its clientele has led to a backlash of criticism, calling the management sexist and guilty of gender stereotyping. As reported in the Telegraph UK, The Dashijiedaduhui — or “World Metropolis” centre proudly announced the availability of 10 new spots outside the front of the mall, “respectfully reserved for women”. The spots in question are painted pink and are a notable 30cm (11 in) wider than the normal spots.
Following the ensuing clamour, it appears that the mall manager is now in damage control: “We just wanted to make things easier for women, who make up most of our customers,” said Yang Hongjun (who is female). “It’s not an insult to women at all,” she added. “If their parking spaces are larger, it’s only for practical reasons. It doesn’t mean that women drive less well than men.”
Hmmm. The truth is that both men and women could benefit from the recalibration of today’s parking spots (or perhaps we could consider buying smaller cars…). As we noted in our September blog, many people of both genders have trouble fitting today’s larger footprint cars in typical parking spots, which in most locales, have not had their minimum dimension requirements adjusted for 20 years.
Of course the media have grabbed on to the “pink parking” story as an opportunity to generate web traffic, arguing everything from sexism to reverse discrimination for men! This is certainly not the first instance of “pink parking” — it has already been introduced in a number of other countries including Kuwait, Malaysia, Indonesia, Austria, Italy, South Korea (5,000 spots!) and Germany (which warns of some challenging “men only” spaces!). In this latest story from China, we are talking about 10 parking spaces (not a large proportion of the total), the announcement of which has probably generated more free publicity for the Centre than could be hoped for with their entire advertising budget. Clever.