Will Automakers Get Rid of Female Models at Auto Shows in the Wake of the #MeToo Movement?
Thanks to the #MeToo movement, women are speaking up more and more about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault in the workplace and elsewhere. Companies across the globe are changing their practices, including those in automotive.
Over the last few months, we’ve seen several effects of the #MeToo movement in automotive. Top executives have been ousted for their treatment of women, and Formula One decided to discontinue its practice of using “grid girls.” Now, automakers are reconsidering the practice of having female models at car shows.
When you go to a car show, it’s not uncommon to see beautiful women standing next to luxury cars. This practice is seen by many as degrading, reducing women to objects rather than people.
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Susie Wolff, a former Formula One development driver, explained that while she doesn’t think this practice will disappear overnight, we are making progress in that direction. “I don’t think we will be able to change the situation from one day to the next,” she said, discussing the presence of female models at the 2018 Geneva Auto Show. “I think we are making change in a positive way.”
According to The New York Post, Toyota and Rolls-Royce displays at the Geneva Auto Show didn’t have models on display with the vehicles. Instead, they had business professionals of both genders on site to answer any visitors’ questions.
“It’s all about explaining the product,” said Johan van Zyl, Toyota Motor Europe. “Of course, models can also be utilized, but we don’t want to make it a derogatory type of display of females. It is not our company value and it is not what we want to be.”
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Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes gave a similar statement, explaining that answering questions and helping visitors understand the vehicles is the automaker’s top priority. “We never looked into optics, or whatever, when it comes to our presenters,” he said. “Our customers coming here expect from us that we can properly explain what our product is all about. And that is for me the more important thing.”
Whether or not all automakers will abandon the objectifying practice is unclear. However, with the #MeToo movement at the forefront of our conversations, we can remain hopeful.
News Source: The New York Post