Girls on show… but why?

Take a look at any motor show in recent memory and you’ll notice that there are almost as many women as cars, sometimes more… why?

THE INTERNET IS awash with campaigns to create equality between the sexes. And I’m all for that. So what is it about car companies and motor shows that sees human beings used as decorations at motor shows.

In recent years we’ve had girls at Chinese motor shows removed from stands because they were showing too much flesh and because the ‘male’ journalists were struggling to contain themselves. But the trend of trotting out leggy young women and placing them on motor show stands continues. Having been to motor shows here in Australia (remember them) and overseas I can tell you it’s kind of creepy watching the blokes take hundreds of photos of these scantily-clad women adorning new cars and then posting them to blogs, usually titled ‘hot girls of (insert name of motor show)’… Why?

Ask most motoring journalists and they’ll tell you it’s the cars they’re there to see and the company executives, and those worth their salt aren’t talking with tongues in cheek. So, if that’s the case, do we really need girls on motor show stands? Of course, the answer is, NO.

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I don’t get along to many home appliance shows, or technology shows but I’m pretty sure there aren’t leggy ladies hovering near the latest smartphone or TV. Or are there? And, if so, why?

The only thing you can think is that the car industry is still pretty backwards… oh, and it’s predominantly run by males.

There’ll be some of you who might try and argue it’s just a little bit of harmless fun. It isn’t. And, yes, the models are hard-working and I’m not advocating for a wholesale sacking of models, I’m just suggesting that, as a society, maybe we’ve moved on enough that we can celebrate women in the automotive business in other ways…

There are plenty of female designers, executives and engineers doing great work. Let’s talk about them. I mean, I have a daughter and I’d much rather say to her, ‘see that female engineer over there, or the head of GM, you could be just like her’. Rather than, ‘your only usefulness on this car stand is as a pretty piece of furniture for pervy men to take photos of’.

Yes, European and US motor shows are starting to add men into the mix (or celebrities – which again begs the question of, why?), but it’s just the same thing. It’s furniture on a motor show stand that doesn’t need to be there.

Asian motor shows, however, still seem to be a few years behind the times and the recent Gaungzhou motor show was a perfect case in point with numerous women on each stand with one car maker, let’s just call them LDV, sending out press images of their new car (pictured above) with pretty young woman in almost every single shot… wow.

But it’s not just motor shows where girls are paraded in front of cars. Let’s take a look at V8 Supercars and other motorsport events where ‘grid’ girls swan around with signs or drape themselves near the winner of the race. Again, why? And it’s not just cars… what about the Tour de France, yes, holier than thou cyclists also come in for a little bit of female adornment with the wearer of the Yellow jersey photographed near leggy ladies who are there simply because, well, and I’ve held off writing this, but I can’t any longer, women are placed into these spaces simply because men are sexist pigs who like to talk the talk about equality but very rarely walk the walk.

What’s the solution? Well, we need to replace the leggy women, and the bloke models too with people who can actually talk about the car the journalist or member of the public is looking at, and not in a car dealer kind of way. But in a, ‘hey, let me show you how X and Y work,’ or trundle out an engineer who can explain aerodynamic, suspension, steering, engine tweaks and their importance so that a journalist, who is nothing more than a vessel for motoring information, might relay to readers how things work.

Surely a car show is about showing off cars?

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.