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Published Date: October 17, 2007

Published Date: October 17, 2007

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Female Traffic Lights

My husband recently sent me a link to an news blurb about new traffic signal laws which were passed last year in Spain. In an effort to do away with sexism, the Spanish town council of Madrid decreed that half of all road signs and traffic signals should alternate between male and female walking figures. And how can you tell it’s a female figure? The silhouettes will have ‘feminine attributes’ such as a skirt, ribbon, and ponytail instead of simply being the outline of a striding man. This is their way of fighting inequality in their streets and giving women more visibility. Some quotes from the people in Madrid:

‘It’s fantastic, but there’s still a lot to fight for. There are many things that need fighting for so women can finally be valued for what we are worth.’

‘I don’t think it will contribute much to promote equality, but at least it gives women a place there [in traffic lights].’

‘I think it’s really silly. A single sign changing from green to red, allowing or prohibiting crossing is enough.’

Personally, I can see that they have the best interest at heart, but unfortunately, their simple solution seems to underscore the opposite of their intention. Aren’t they just reinforcing the old sexist stereotypes of feminism – skirts, ribbons, and ponytails? What do you think? Is this silly or significant?

Here is the link to the story.