US Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, DC) has introduced legislation demanding that sexism be eliminated in the world of crash test dummies, mandating the addition of models made in female forms.
Norton debuted the bill on Tuesday, complaining that the federal government currently uses only male crash test dummies and doesn’t require automakers to employ both male and female dummies.
“Women have achieved equality on the road when it comes to driving, but when it comes to safety testing to keep them safe on the road, they are nowhere near achieving equality,” she said. “Crash test standards are incredibly antiquated, and we must update these standards now, especially as more people return to their daily commute in the next few months.”
— Eleanor #DCStatehood Holmes Norton (@EleanorNorton) June 1, 2021
The bill was ridiculed on Twitter, with commenters suggesting that transgender crash test dummies will be needed next and that the government hasn’t even ascertained how many of the current dummies “identify as male.” In fact, some questioned the whole notion, arguing that crash test dummies are genderless.
Another observer quipped that Washington’s transit authority had solved the issue of approximating the broad scope of passenger body types by using actual riders as its crash test dummies.
We solved this problem on #wmata years ago. How do you run crash tests with dummies that approximate the broad scope of body types of your various riders? Why, simply make the riders your crash test dummies! https://t.co/SbJspqFnxu
— Mister Metro (@MisterDCMetro) June 1, 2021
Others reacted more seriously, arguing against the apparent absurdity of prioritizing dummy genders when America faces such issues as burgeoning debt, surging violent crime and inflation fears.
NOW we know what's important to THIS dummy.
The $30 TRILLION debt, millions unemployed, real inflation fears, murders up 30 – 800% in major cities – can wait. pic.twitter.com/Yy79nOdCob
— ProsperousUSA (@Prosperous1776) June 1, 2021
But Norton tried to make the case for her legislation based more on safety than social justice. In fact, her announcement even referenced biological differences between men and women – a no-no for certain gender activists. Beyond height differences, she said, male and females differ in such measures as neck strength and posture, affecting how their bodies react in a crash.
“Since cars are not required to be tested with the safety of women in mind, women are at higher risk of injury and death in car crashes,” Norton said. She added that female victims of car crashes are 73% more likely than males to experience serious injury or death.
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As it turns out, the dummies aren’t necessarily modeled accurately for men, either. According to Consumer Reports, the current dummies are modeled on a 5-foot-9, 171-pound man, which was first standardized in the 1970s. The average American adult male is still close to that height, but he weighs 198 pounds and has a 40-inch waist.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began using a female dummy in 2003, decades after regulators raised the issue, but it was merely a smaller version of the male and didn’t model differences in body types. It was so generic, in fact, that it did double duty as a female adult and a 12- or 13-year-old child. When used, the “female” dummy had to ride in the passenger seat.
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