Thursday, June 14, 2012

Garage for Women Only (London 1966)

Poster for Automobile Show at
New York Colisseum (1966)
Garage for Women Only

Location: London, England

Opened/Closed: Around 1966

Almost 50 years separate the Garage for Women Only (London 1929) from this garage in Golders Green, which was located in London's Borough of Barnet. Two whole generations.

Notice that a women-only garage is still treated as a lark, however. It's as if the earlier garages for women only had never existed. Typical of the cultural amnesia we often see with womyn's spaces.

Golders Green Road (1960)

Also pick up how different this place is in overall feel--not only from the London 1929 garage, but from the Paris 1926 and Boston 1921 garages. Instead of Sisters Doing It For Themselves, it's more like a variation of the Feminine Mystique. No evidence of women's leadership or initiative in starting this garage, no evidence that women are going to be trained or employed as mechanics. No creative rethinking on how an automobile repair business might better serve women customers from a woman's point of view.

On the contrary, the only defined role for women in this venture is the role of passive consumer of automobile repair services. And in that role they are treated in a thoroughly patronizing manner. The (male?) mechanics are to be trained in "the feminine psychology" because women supposedly have a "different attitude than men about motor problems." Really? If your car stalls out, just how would the sex of the driver enter into the required repairs? Whatever happened to the basics: efficient, effective, affordable, and courteous service? Instead, it looks like women were meant to get a pat on their bouffant hairdo, and a smarmy, "Don't worry your pretty little head about that nasty knocking noise, dolly. We'll take care of it." Barf.

Generally speaking, by 1966, the first wave of the women's movement had long run out of steam and the second wave was just starting to stir. But that's pretty obvious, isn't it?

From the Miami News, March 14, 1966:

Women-Only Garage

LONDON (WNS) -- An automobile garage for women customers only has opened in the fashionable suburb of Golders Green. The management explains that women have a different attitude than men about motor problems and the care of cars.

Mechanics have been specially trained to understand and be sympathetic to the feminine psychology.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.