Skip

Watch Laleh Seddigh's dust
July 9, 2009 6:28 AM   Subscribe

"I like competition in everything ... I have to move whatever is movable in the world." Say hello to Laleh Seddigh, Iran's top rated female race car driver.

Initially taught to drive by her father, Seddigh discovered she liked it and wanted to go further with it. Teaching herself via unauthorized excursions on the streets of Tehran, she learned fast and at the age 23 of began racing, eventually winning the right to compete against men (and beat them), despite the various roadblocks.

Currently she's suspended from racing due to alleged car switching, though she's vowing to fight it.

Learned about her Via Andrew Sullivan.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (23 comments total)

 
Those race car hoodies are very convenient for muslim women. I'm just sayin.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:55 AM on July 9, 2009


"I'm not a feminist," she said. "But why should women be lazy and weak? If you're determined, you've got to push."

She has been pushing into traditionally male pursuits all her life. With her father's encouragement, she has devoted her academic career to preparing to succeed him in the family business. She received a bachelor's degree in industrial management and a master's in production engineering, and is now working on her Ph.D. in industrial management and production, all at Tehran University.


*sigh*

Then what exactly does she think the f-word means?
posted by availablelight at 7:36 AM on July 9, 2009


Then what exactly does she think the f-word means?

That getting caught up in wordplay, especially in her society, isn't as fun as racing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:42 AM on July 9, 2009 [1 favorite]



That getting caught up in wordplay, especially in her society, isn't as fun as racing.


Oh snap....then why was she so hung up on the word herself, and distancing herself from it: "I do all these traditional male things and push for access to succeed in these fields, but I am not a feminist!"
posted by availablelight at 8:01 AM on July 9, 2009


I think You're making too much of the word feminist.

It's possible she's not doing this because she wants all women to be able to, but because she wants to damned well do it. That doesn't make her a feminist but a 'me-ist'.

It's possible she doesn't agree with the version of feminism that leans toward 'women are better than men'.

It's possible she genuinely thinks other women are lazy and weak and don't do what they could, not because they're downtrodden but because they prefer where they are (in this specific sense).

It's probably that none of those are right, and there's another reason entirely that she doesn't consider herself a feminist. Hell, she could really be a man in drag who's doing this as part of the great Islamic revenge against the west for creating the Borat movie.

Anyway, in conclusion, just because she doesn't want for herself what her country considers a typically female role, doesn't automatically make her a feminist. Hell, Thatcher didn't appear to consider herself a feminist, despite stomping into a male dominated world...
posted by twine42 at 8:02 AM on July 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyway, back on topic, is it obvious from any of the articles what kind of racing she did?

Typically the argument of strength and stamina come up when talking about women racers, so I can imagine the 'women are weaklings' brigade would probably be happier if she was a driver in a BTCC type championship than an F1 style one.
posted by twine42 at 8:06 AM on July 9, 2009


then why was she so hung up on the word herself

Just guessing, but she'd rather define herself than have a definition thrust upon her.

I'm not sure why you're hung up on insisting that she must be one or surprised that in society where she had to petition for the right to compete against men, she might not be too keen on being labeled a term that probably has a lot severe negative connotations in her society.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 AM on July 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyway, back on topic, is it obvious from any of the articles what kind of racing she did?

Not directly from what I could tell. She won the Iranian 1600 GT championship and had a 2400CC vehicle, but that's all I noticed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 AM on July 9, 2009


is it obvious from any of the articles what kind of racing she did?

Other articles say she has driven Formula 3 (open wheel, 210bhp, wings with decent amounts of aerodynamics), but predominately races in Saloon cars (in which she won the championship). I can't find much detail on how successful she was in F3, nor about an Iranian F3 championship. Unsurprisingly, not too much comes up if you search for Iranian Motor Racing and most of the articles are about this woman.

However, this is far more about women in Iran than about racing, but the novelty of women in racing certainly seems to help promote her achievements against the Iranian treatment of women. While there is a lot of resistance to women in racing world wide (some justified, some not), it kind of pales into insignificance in this example as it is much more about Iranian tradition, from what I can tell, and the fact that it is racing is almost irrelevant to the achievements she has made against such resistance other than the opportunity for the exposure it has given her.
posted by Brockles at 8:58 AM on July 9, 2009


Somewhat impressive, but I imagine in any oppressive regime it helps if your parents are stinking rich. "My father could buy and sell you a hundred times over" will go surprisingly far even in the face of "you're a woman, don't do manly things."

Given that she speeds excessively on the streets instead of saving it for the track, and explicitly denies being a feminist, she comes off as more selfish than impressive.
posted by explosion at 9:28 AM on July 9, 2009


"I like competition in everything ... I have to move whatever is movable in the world."

I would just like to let Ms. Seddigh know that no one has ever succeeded in satisfying me sexually, although many have tried.


and now, I wait...
posted by orme at 9:30 AM on July 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


That woman knows how to rock a headscarf. Sometimes headscarves look like a tool of a repressive patriarchy. Sometimes they make a woman look like she taught Audrey Hepburn how to be gorgeous. I'm torn on them.
posted by GuyZero at 9:54 AM on July 9, 2009


"Not directly from what I could tell. She won the Iranian 1600 GT championship and had a 2400CC vehicle, but that's all I noticed."

Wait, does that mean she was racing a 2.4 liter and every one else was racing a 1.6?
posted by Relay at 10:41 AM on July 9, 2009


Nah, the statement wasn't clear. Based on the wikipedia link, she has both a 1600GT and 2400cc vehicle.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:49 AM on July 9, 2009


"Nah, the statement wasn't clear. Based on the wikipedia link, she has both a 1600GT and 2400cc vehicle."

Oh, OK ... that's different.
posted by Relay at 11:08 AM on July 9, 2009


Y'all can calm down. From the article:
Her desire to compete in the fastest car racing category - the all male "Free Class" - led her into a complicated plot which involved repainting her fastest race car as a slower model.

Suspicious race officials paid a surprise visit to her garage and found evidence of her car-switching ploy. Laleh protested that she was the victim of a male-led plot inspired by jealousy.

"They don't really want a good competitor who is a female
[...]"
Sounds like she truly is a feminist after all.

*runs*
posted by vsync at 11:34 AM on July 9, 2009


Cool. Except, I see, this article was back in 2005. And the suspension was in 2008. Hopefully she can get back on the track soon.
posted by Rashomon at 1:11 PM on July 9, 2009


Brockles: While there is a lot of resistance to women in racing world wide (some justified, some not)

I don't understand why this would be. Not a snark, just curious as to the reasoning.
posted by basicchannel at 2:06 PM on July 9, 2009


I've been through this before, and I think the 'female in racing' angle is a distraction to this particular story as the religious/Iranian angle is far more important, to my mind, so I'll summarise:

Higher levels of racing /professional racing cars are far more physical to drive than people realise and so this echoes the necessary difference that prevents women athletes from competing equally with men in other sports. The same physiological differences that mean male marathon runners are faster apply to racing as well, and to expect complete parity is unrealistic. Only up to a certain point can women compete without a natural disadvantage.

The resistance within racing comes from the marketing potential of women allowing a budget finding advantage through the novelty of 'being a girl'. There is a huge amount of fuss over a girl in racing that is most often disproportionate to their talent and abilities - so better drivers (who happen to be male) that truly deserve opportunities, and that have earned them with results, are passed over for drives with high profile teams because it is a hell of a lot easier to sell, say internet hosting for an example, with a hot girl that can't drive as well but she can draw more money for the team.

Picking an example from no particular venue, of course...

Not that many people object to women racing equally with men, but the resistance comes from the resentment because women can get themselves into drives and teams that they wouldn't be good enough to get if they were male. Basically, they only got where they are because they are a woman and have more marketing clout. In an industry where performance is everything and it's as difficult as hell to get progress anyway, this is a seriously unfair advantage. It isn't too popular with people that have mortgaged everything they have several times over to try and get a break and some truly gifted racing drivers fall by the wayside by being unable to get backing through crucial parts of their career, only to watch lesser female talents trip over massive bags of money to get in a front running car and pootle around in the middle of the grid and demand to be respected as 'an equal'.
posted by Brockles at 2:41 PM on July 9, 2009


Brockles, that argument pretty much holds water only when the woman is consistently losing, and badly. When you win races, as Seddigh or Patrick have, their places turn out to be justified. Also, once the barrier's broken a little more, and the novelty wears off, racers, male and female both, have to justify themselves on skill alone.
posted by explosion at 3:08 PM on July 9, 2009


Speaking of Iran, apparently protests are escalating.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:27 PM on July 9, 2009


They don't have to lose 'badly' to not be as good. The driver is not the single biggest variable in racing, necessarily. A poor driver in a great car can be be second to a great driver in a crappy car and still lose 'badly', anyway.

Look what Danica's team mates have done with the same equipment. She's been in one of the best teams for several years and has one paltry win to show for it. One win that was achieved largely by pit stop strategy. She 'loses' a LOT. It's an utterly appalling record given the equipment she has had. The problem is that she has had, and continues to have, far more opportunities and quality of equipment than other driver with much better records would have had. I'm not saying she's a rubbish driver, just that she's not as good as the hype or the opportunities she has continued to be given - any male driver with that poor a record would have lost his seat a long, long time ago.

There are some good women drivers out there - Simona De Silvestro, for example, wins on an equal basis in Formula Atlantic and is widely respected as a result. However, there are a awful lot of far better drivers than Danica Patrick who don't get to sit in a front running Indycar. They can't get the backing - Justin Wilson is a perfect example.

And neither of us can make any comment as to Seddigh's ability at all as we have absolutely no idea as to the relative level of equipment she has compared to her rivals. The hints of significant family money grate a little with me as drivers with large amounts of cash and no talent are the one of the other big resentments in motor racing alongside 'has a dad with a famous name'.

Anyway, as I said, Seddigh's actual driving talent is completely irrelevant anyway, as her achievement in her culture is far bigger in importance even if she sucks or is the best driving talent in the world. I think that trying to prove how good she really is at her sport is distracting to the achievement she has made against her cultural/religious handicap.

Also, once the barrier's broken a little more, and the novelty wears off, racers, male and female both, have to justify themselves on skill alone.

Do feel free to come back and discuss this when that happens. It is a long, long way from looking close at present.
posted by Brockles at 3:34 PM on July 9, 2009


*runs*
vsync, FYI the post doesn't actually run off when when you type it. So after you say something offensive, it just sits there being offensive.
posted by anti social order at 7:11 PM on July 10, 2009


« Older In Search of the Swedish Soul   |   A Soldier's Letters from World War I Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post