Guest Post: The Power and Authority of a Driver’s License

By Felicia Ellis

Okay, ladies, you want to drive? I hear you saying it would be wonderful to be able to drive your children to their activities, or to participate in more roles that require driving! Of course, no problem, here is your driver’s license. In fact you’ve always had it, since you went to the DMV for the first time. I know you weren’t aware that you got a license—you did (don’t worry about us claiming otherwise before, we make changes all the time so business as usual). Enjoy that power of the license!

But here’s the thing: you can’t use a car. Your husband can, and he can drive other folks around with it. As a woman, though, we can’t have you driving. You’re definitely not allowed to hold the keys to the car! Really, we can’t even let you sit in the driver’s seat, and forget about holding on to your kids or witnessing when their dad drives them somewhere. Don’t worry, you can ask your husband or your male neighbors for rides. What a wonderful service they can provide! Your husband will likely be asked to drive your neighbors around too, so we hope you don’t need his car too often. But not to worry, ladies. There are some buses you can take. You could get one of those sweet pink scooters with the streamers, or walking is an option too. Those are the perfect, feminine modes of transportation. And really, anytime you’re going anywhere you are actually using the power of your driver’s license; transportation everywhere is powered by those licenses. You don’t need the authority to actually DRIVE to use your license! How silly that you think so.

Now, when you watch all the men around you drive and make the rules about how you can be transported, there are a few things to remember. It’s absolutely vital to a functional roadway that you not actually drive. After all, women are inherently better drivers than those men who drive terribly and selfishly. If women drove, when would men get the chance to practice? Women driving places would also keep them too busy to take care of all those children—our future driver-license holders. And hey, moms of boys! We’ll even let your 11-year-old sons drive you on short trips, isn’t that great? It’s so amazing that the authority of driving will be granted to young boys so they can get involved in that service. Your girls won’t need to learn though; they’ll grow up to be just like you!

Please don’t get any ideas about agitating to actually USE the driver’s license. Questioning the driver authority department will get your license taken away faster than you can say “go,” and we won’t let you come back inside the DMV. Most of your female neighbors don’t even WANT to drive, and you should be more like them. They understand their purpose and role on the road. I feel sorry that you lack a testimony of men and women’s roles in driving. It’s really a blessing that you don’t have to drive places and worry about all that responsibility! Imagine being asked to learn the rules of the road. That would be far too much to ask of our already busy women!

The next time you’re walking somewhere, or watching your 11-year-old drive for some bread, or helping your husband as he presides over your family transportation, don’t forget to be grateful for the power of the driver’s license you have!

 

Felicia is a teacher, a learner, a reader, an advocate, a friend, a wife of one and a mother of two. She loves learning about the ways people connect to the divine, and is still working out a better connection for herself.

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24 Responses

  1. This made me laugh, because it’s so ridiculously TRUE. Thanks for adding some humor to a very complex and painful issue. Normally when I hear others express frustrations similar to my own regarding women’s roles, I feel a mixture of relief that I’m not the only one and outrage that others have to suffer so much as well. This time, I get to feel the relief AND smile.

    • Felicia Rae Ellis says:

      You are just too kind. I’m so glad I could provide a laugh to you! I love analogies, parables, storytelling… Such a great way to connect with the principles that guide us.

  2. Happy Hubby says:

    Great way to “drive” the point home – if you could drive. Sorry – I can’t pass up a pun. Seriously this is a good post and draws a very good analogy.

  3. Wendy says:

    Really clever and relatable analogy, Felicia. Thanks for taking the time to share it here.

    May women the church and world over be metaphorically given a driver’s license AND not be kept from driving someday soon!

    • Felicia Rae Ellis says:

      Thank you and amen! Anyone who wants to “drive” should be able to. The head of the driver’s license division is no respecter of persons after all!

  4. Moss says:

    Astute analogy. Thanks for the laugh (and the cry).

    • Felicia Rae Ellis says:

      I hope the tears were at least cathartic; I find a good cry cleansing for the soul. Thank you for taking the time to read.

  5. Chiaroscuro says:

    love this. hope it will open some people’s eyes

  6. Heather says:

    Felicia you are the best. I think this approach is so illuminating and kinda makes me want to scream. Can we even talk about the allusions of the DMV?!?!

    • Felicia Rae Ellis says:

      Like the three-hour wait time until you get to what you came there for? Maybe that’s just my experience. 😉 Thank you for taking the time to read!

  7. Violadiva says:

    Love a good satire piece to really lay out the problems of inequality we’ve got happening in the church today.
    And it brings to mind what happened last summer when Saudi Arabia lifted its decade long ban on female drivers – officially they’re allowed to drive, but hardly any women can get licenses. They wait and wait at the DMV all day and go home empty handed.

  8. GEOFF -AUS says:

    Get the analogy. Was in Egypt recently, noticed there were no women driving, asked our guide why. It is legal for women to drive but they are to sensitive and emotional, and besides their husbands wouldn’t approve. They can’t ride donleys, or donkey carts, or motor cycles or motor cycle carts. They can ride local taxis or walk.
    Levels of patriachy.

  9. EmilyB says:

    Yes!!! Articles like this are why I haven’t completely disconnected from the Mormon community—at least not on this site anyway, which is the only Mormon community Where I fee understood!! Oh so many amens!!! I felt true sisterhood, real kinship as I read this—more so than I have felt in relief society after decades of attendance. Bless you and THANK YOU!! Ladies of Exponent, you are all a godsend! You are a virtual sisterhood, but the best I have ever known!!!

  10. Dave K says:

    This is a good attempt but the analogy is a little off. The current church line (per Oaks) is not that Sisters have had licenses all along. They don’t get licenses (ordination). Rather, they get act under the authority of someone else’s license (the bishop or whoever called them).

    • Happy Hubby says:

      Dave K, are you saying they can sit in the passengers seat and tell the driver where to go? Analogies almost always fall apart as you dig down / extend them. I still think the analogy is a reasonable framing of the issue and can help knuckle-dragging guys like me have a bit more empathy for how some Sisters feel.

    • Felicia Rae Ellis says:

      Dave K, thanks for the feedback! My thought process that led to this writing was sparked not by Oaks, but by the relief society presidency’s message at BYU women’s conference. Jean Bingham said that all women were endowed with priesthood power, which I likened to the licensing. Other claims included that single women have priesthood power in their homes and that all the good in the world is accomplished using the power of the priesthood. I’m not sure where the actual ordination to an office in the priesthood would fit in. Maybe that’s one of those short trips the little guys can take (getting a permit?).

      • EmilyB says:

        I have been in some wards where leaders treated me like I had a learner’s permit, others where they let me wash the car but acted like they were letting me drive it, and others where they let me sit in the driver seat only while it remained parked and play with the radio (but they chose all the music whenever it was driving) and that was supposed to make me feel special (and keep me quiet). Any questions on my part about why I never get to drive made them list all the aforementioned “privileges” with exasperation as if to say, “we have already given you SO much control over the car—what more do you expect, to just take over the WHOLE THING?”

  11. jpv says:

    Pssst… here’s the secret. Not having a licence doesn’t prevent you from driving.

  12. Ziff says:

    This is an outstanding analogy, Felicia! Thanks for sharing it!

  13. Emily says:

    I didn’t get a driver’s license until I was 33 years old. If you’re curious to know what it actually feels like to not be allowed to drive due to no fault of your own, let me know. While I understand the point of your analogy, I’m sure you can appreciate the fact that my take on it is very different than those who have already commented. In a nutshell, when you can’t drive and you need to get something done, your focus is not on the fact that you can’t drive. Rather, the focus is on getting said thing done.

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