Formula One, an international form of motor racing has announced that it will end the decade-long practice of using walk-on grid girls, commencing with the start of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.
The people over at F1 feel that this customary practice isn’t a true representative of their brand value and is not in sync with the modern society’s ethics and norms.
“We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.” says, Sean Bratches, the Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1.
Who are the F1 grid girls really?
F1 grid girls have been employed by the sport for decades to conduct various promotional tasks.
These include wearing attractive (read: titillating) clothing that carries the names of sponsors and appearing on the track before the races for the flag-off. The girls also do all the other fancy and VERY, VERY strenuous and demanding tasks such as holding the driver name cards, lining the corridor and holding an umbrella over the men’s heads.
Why did we suddenly get prompted to move out of the stone age?
One of the reasons for this huge game changer could be the Feminism on the rise. The sponsors realized that they could face huge backlash for the blatant sexual objectification of women on their hands.
They must have also been fearing the allegations of sexual impropriety in the wake of the #MeToo campaign because it wouldn’t be a surprise if we see some grid girls coming forward to narrate their stories of harassment since the girls were derogated by the public and drivers alike in broad daylight. Our case in point, when the renowned F1 driver, Lewis Hamilton thought it was just harmless fun to soak a grid girl with champagne while he was celebrating yet another win. It wasn’t harmless fun, it was plain humiliation while he sexualized that innocent girl.
What the People Had To Say
The decision was applauded by some while it generated its share of flak too.
Proponents feel that no sporting body should be shameless enough to degrade one half of the population in order to pleasure the other half by generating a kick in their trousers.
Women should be free to use (or parade) their bodies as they wish, but some people feel that what’s inside a woman’s head is equally if not more important, and any job which overrides the need for an attractive body and face over a woman’s mind and skills is sexist and only works to hamper her sense of self-esteem.
Surprisingly many people have criticised this decision too, saying that it was just a daft and spineless, tokenistic move to pander to the overwhelming notions of Feminism.
Former grid girls themselves, are unhappy that they have lost job opportunities because of the ban. Most of them said that the job wasn’t demeaning or offensive but only helped them in providing for their education loans and other financial needs. Several took to social media thinking it was ironic that this decision to ‘honor’ women’s rights should be lauded when it was actually an infringement on their ability to do what they want to do.
Instead of completely phasing out the grid girls and making F1 a completely woman-less domain, they could maybe provide a more dignified and safer working environment for these women. Maybe promoting the employment of more and more woman as engineers and racing mechanics instead of them being restricted to only a showpiece or just an eye-candy is the better way to go.
Changing times call for changing measures and according to me, it was only a matter of time when the decades-old traditions of men dominated sporting industry too had to change for the good.
Image credits: Google Images