Feminist stance leads to anger, job loss

Katarzyna Borkowska

Formula One’s decision to stop using attractive female models did not account for job loss or frustration.

On Jan. 31, Formula One announced that it will stop the long-standing practice of using grid girls. Grid girls are the young, attractive women who work at F1 racing events, carrying out a range of activities to promote the sport. Th e F1 offi cial statement states, “While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.” Th e decision was met with controversy as some people believed that it was the right step in stopping the objectifi cation of women, while others stepped up to defend grid girls, including the girls themselves. Rebecca Cooper, a fi ve-time F1 grid girl tweeted, “Ridiculous that women who say they are ‘fi ghting for women’s rights’ are saying what others should and shouldn’t do, stopping us from doing a job we love and are proud to do. PC gone mad #Gridgirls.” Cooper makes an excellent point when most of the complaining done against grid girls was done by people who are uninvolved in the industry. She also stated that grid girls were misrepresented. Th e stigma around grid girls is that they wear provocative outfi ts that reveal more than necessary, and that these outfi ts sexualize women. Th e pictures posted from Cooper’s grid girl days, however, showcased her in modest outfi ts, including dresses that ended about 2 to 3 inches above the knee. Michelle Westby, a stunt and drift racing driver, started her career as a promotional model for motor sports. She expressed her anger online as well, stating that, “We are more clothed than what teenagers wear down the supermarkets.” She then expressed her frustration at feminists, stating that they “think they know best, when they really haven’t got a clue,” costing girls to lose money as a result because they no longer have a job. Other grid girls went to social media to state that they also love their job, are paid well and that they are respected in their position. When making the decision to remove grid girls, F1 should have looked more closely at the women working for them and not only at the social media riots by feminists. Grid girls were proud of their job and loved the promotional work they did without feeling sexualized or mistreated, as feminists assumed. Th is decision will end up costing women jobs and ending a long tradition in the racing world.