Sexism Charges Over Women-Only Parking Spaces

Wider, longer women-only parking spots that have been popping up in Seoul, with pink outlines and adorned with the logo of a woman in a skirt, have tickled the foreign media.

The spaces measure 2.5 m by 5.1 m compared to the conventional 2.3 m by 5 m parking spaces. Since 2012, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has made it mandatory for parking lots with more than 30 spaces to allocate more than 10 percent of their spaces for women-only spots.

But where the city was hoping to present itself as women-friendly, the international press is smelling condescension, noting that they imply that women are less capable of maneuvering a car than men.

"Women-only parking spots have been installed in the past throughout the world -- but typically only as a public safety measure," the U.K. Independent wrote. "The spaces are usually designated near entrances or exits in poorly-lit car parks, and are not normally expanded for the benefit of female users."

The daily noted that the larger parking spaces could "promote further the stereotype that women are worse drivers." U.S. broadcaster ABC and many others also accused the measure of sexism.

In 2012, a German town had some fun turning the stereotype around. The mayor of Triberg introduced men-only spots some of which were triangular while others required drivers to reverse diagonally between a pillar and a wall. They bore the "Mars" symbol for males.

The initial controversy soon calmed down when the mayor, Gallus Strobel, admitted that the measure was really a marketing gimmick to draw more visitors to the town of just 5,000 people. "Women can come here and prove me wrong, and while they're at it they can see the town's attractions," he said.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 11, 2014 11:32 KST