I’m not a trained vocalist or anything, but I doubt the random person would know that if they’d heard me nailing “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Disney’s “Mulan” a couple of weeks ago.
It was a hot Friday afternoon and I was driving up U.S. 89 with my kidlet, Harvey, in the backseat on our way to my parents’ place for the weekend. My wife, Elenor, was off to Los Angeles for a couple days to help my brother-in-law after a major surgery, so I was singing for the two of us.
There wasn’t a single note of that poor song that wasn’t about to be hit by my vocal chords with perfect precision (and had it been safe, I probably would‘ve had one hand to an ear and the other Christina-Aguilera-ing to the high notes).
But as I was nailing some totally on purpose harmonies, I was drowned out by a sound much less awesome.
Screech. CRUNCH. Hisssssss...
I had been coming to a stop, unbeknownst to the driver behind me, and he plowed right into me.
Wait, us — I was just in a wreck with my toddler in the car.
Years of postpartum anxiety fueled largely by visions of car crashes with my child on board led to an adrenaline rush that made my ears ring and the air really thin.
But nothing fuels clarity and focus like motherhood under pressure, and so I went from singing Chinese warrior to stunned lady with chirping birds around her head to Dr. Mom all in a fraction of a second.
Despite Harvey describing the situation as having hurt his feelings, he was and is totally fine.
But I don’t think even now that my nerves have fully calmed. Part of that is whiplash, another part is the tiny rental car I’m driving while they fix the more than $7,000 in damages to mine, but the bulk is the nauseating reality of how our metal road missiles are ticking time bombs.
Then, a couple of days ago, I learned this from my colleague: According to recent research out of the University of Virginia, women are 73% more likely to be seriously injured or killed in car accidents.
What the truck?!
You want to know why researchers think this might be? Because manufacturers didn’t start making female crash test dummies until (sit down) 2003, and even now, the lady dummy is all of 5 feet and 110 pounds, making it several inches and nearly 60 pounds different from the average real-life woman. She’s the Barbie of dummies (Is that redundant?).
So, apparently like most astronaut suits (remember when the all-female spacewalk was canceled in March because NASA didn’t have enough suits to safely accommodate women’s bodies?), cars are made primarily with only men’s safety in mind.
Maybe the auto industry is trying to make men out of us, too. *sword swish*
But for an economy that likes to profit off the fragility of women (can’t forget those lady tools just for our feeble hands), this seems like a pretty egregious oversight in safety regulations.
So, it looks like in addition to stunning live concerts in my car, I’ve got another reason to raise my voice.
Marina Gomberg is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.