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Articles > Sports & Fitness July, 01, 2018

F1 Banning Grid Girls: Anti-Women Or Empowering Women?

Beth Bartlett
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5.23 / 10

I am transparent in saying that I, myself am a Feminist (awaiting the mixed reaction). But I am struggling to collect an opinion on the Ban of the Grid Girls in Formula 1.

If you don’t know what they are, Grid Girls are hired by Formula 1 to promote various things, such as wearing clothes with sponsors’ names on, walking around with boards with the drivers’ names on and just to stand around and be beautiful really. My feminist heart initially celebrated at the news of them being banned; this is a step against the objectification and sexualisation that I have always been aware of. Yet, my feminist head is thinking, isn’t taking away a job that empowers women to be confident about themselves in fact retrospective?

I know that it’s not just me that has had a mixed reaction to this – there’s a lot of people questioning whether this is a step forward or back. Even Grid Girls themselves are on the fence over this. Men such as Niki Lauda saw the decision as “anti-women” which I completely understand, because if a woman feels comfortable in what she is wearing, or is enjoying her job, then why ban it? So I started to consider the implications on the women themselves and their love for their jobs, and the fact that women like Rebecca Cooper didn’t view her own job as “demeaning” but rather saw the Grid Girls as a family.

So is the ban, “anti-women”?

Well, on the face of it, yes. Denying women their choice to show their beautiful bodies is anti-women. In essence, they’re banning women for being beautiful, and stopping them from being their own boss. Could this be comparable to a time when women were told to cover up and stay quiet? It’s been 100 years since women in the UK gained a voice, and this feels like we’re going back on ourselves.

However, there are some Grid Girls celebrating the ban. Beverley Turner, for example,  sees the role of a Grid Girls as antiquated, old-fashioned. Which was in fact my knee-jerk reaction. I believed they were just there to ‘satisfy’ the men that make up Formula 1’s typical audience. But when I thought about it, I realised that maybe I’m displeased with the lack of Grid Boys and Female Formula 1 drivers which was a point that Beverley Turner brought up in the interview below:

The reason, I am so behind on publishing an article around this issue is simply because, I do not know what I think.

What is your opinion on the ban; Is it “anti-women” or is it empowering women?

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  1. Lucy Mangan

    I think that it’s a step to more the sport less biased but why don’t we see females racing in f1

  2. Jumana Al-Zainal

    You have a point there… I wont add much to what you’ve posted, except this:
    Rather than banning the women, they should include the men as well! This way, everyone stays happy 🙂

  3. Bethany Bartlett

    I completely respect that you believe I missed the heart of the issue, but as a topic such as this; there is so many different factors that I was unable to cover. The topic of media and self-expectations alongside mental health is another topic that is so important that it deserves its own article. I agree with you, being an 18-year-old female, I do feel pretty bad about my body when I saw them. But, on the other hand; as a 18-year-old female; I respect them and think “Fair play to work so hard on your bodies”.

    Again, I agree with the points about a lack of women F1 drivers and Grid Boys; I brought that up in my article. That if this job is going to exist, make it equal.

    With the Niki Lauda situation, re-reading it makes me laugh, there is a miscommunication somewhere as it should be Lizzie Cundy. But I don’t think it would make him laugh as much!

    At the heart of it, that’s why I want to post more wide-spread articles; to get opinions. There is so much to cover and I agree with you! Body confidence is another aspect to consider, but that might be a separate article if you’d like to help out?


  4. Wanjerehu

    Grid girls should be taken as a fun activity for extra cash just as models and should be appreciated

  5. Parpparpparp

    I think this article completely misses the heart of the issue. To me it’s about setting an example to F1’s younger audiences. Formula One and engineering as a whole is getting better in terms of attracting women to technical roles, but progress is slow and the number of female engineers in the paddock is still relatively small. There’s also not a single female driver on the grid.

    So doesn’t the presence of grid girls send entirely the wrong message to kids at home watching? In effect, Formula One in it’s current form is saying “boys, you can be aerodynamicsts or pit mechanics or drivers,” but “girls, you can, err, stand around and look pretty I guess?”

    While I’m commenting, I think this article badly needs a proof-read. “Isn’t taking away a job that empowers women to be confident about themselves in fact retrospective” doesn’t make sense and “Women such as Niki Lauda” made me laugh out loud.