Photo: The Advertiser
It must be Clipsal time again: it's impossible to get across town, it sounds like the eastern suburbs are being invaded by swarms of giant alien bees, and we're all having the same old argument about whether it's OK to sexually objectify women in the name of family fun.

As a western suburbs stalwart the first two don't really bother me, but my god, am I exhausted by people pretending there's any debate to be had about the Grid Girls. There isn't. They are an embarrassing anachronism from the 1950s and they should be retired to the pits.

There is no good reason to have Grid Girls at the Clipsal, or the podium girls at the Tour Down Under, or women in skimpy outfits acting like human trophies at any public event that purports to be inclusive and for "families".

You might as well have blokes dressed up as bananas, or women in 18th century crinolines and powdered wigs, for all the relevance they have to motorsport.

If you're in any doubt as to what the Grid Girls are actually there for, you get a pretty clear indication on the Clipsal 500 website where they're listed under "attractions", alongside the bars, merchandise stands, and the somewhat suggestively titled "traction zone".

The Grid Girls are "stunning" and wear "smoking hot" outfits with "cheeky peek-a-boo mesh", the website pants. Not that anyone's being encouraged to ogle them at all, or sexualise them in any way, of course.

And at the end of the race they're given to the winner to kiss them on the cheek and sit on their knee, like little children meeting Santa Claus. Except, little children in sexy outfits. Seriously, how is this still a thing?

There's simply no defending the Grid Girl.

Nevertheless, Advertiser columnist Caleb Bond did have a go on Thursday, claiming that those who want the Grid Girls gone aren't fighting for feminism, but are actually restricting women's rights.

According to teenager Caleb, we women became "free from patriarchal controllers of [our] sexuality" back in the 1960s, because we started wearing miniskirts. (If only the suffragettes had known it was that easy, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.)

Now however, says Caleb, we women have flip-flopped, turning from fun-loving, miniskirt-wearing party girls into militant anti-funsters "on a path to destroy anything that features a scantily clad woman".

"Don't worry, feminism confuses me too," he sighs.

Well, let me clear it up for you, Caleb: feminism is about creating equality between the sexes. Like, for example, a major government-run public event where women AREN'T subjugated as sex objects while men are celebrated for their sporting achievements.

Feminism is not just about being able to exercise "choice". A woman simply choosing to work a particular job is not evidence of empowerment, particularly when that job involves being sexually objectified by a male dominated industry in the name of family entertainment.

Yes, Grid Girls "choose to undertake the job of their own volition" as Caleb points out, but claiming that is somehow empowering is to ignore the glaring sexism of the job being offered in the first place.

It's no wonder female race car drivers (and yes, they exist) struggle to be recognised as equal to men when the prevailing image of women in motorsport is a smiling sexpot on the sidelines.

It's clear that until we see shirtless muscle-men paid to wander around major public events in hot pants purely to pose with gawping punters, many men (and boys) may not fully understand the Grid Girls issue.

We've already seen plenty of the Grid Girls' behinds over the years, now it's time to see the back of them.


First published in The Advertiser on March 5, 2016. CLICK HERE to read the original article.