On a three-hour drive to Baltimore for a regional co-rec softball game, 5’11” Karly Whitehead was forced to sit in the middle, also known as “the bitch seat”, even though Rob and Ken, her male teammates sitting alongside her, were 5’6″ and 5’4″, respectively.
“We didn’t even do rock-paper-scissors,” notes Whitehead. “It was just collectively assumed that I would take on the physical burden of curling up into a tiny ball and relying on the least safe seatbelt, just because I’m a woman.”
She adds: “It was like the opposite of the Titanic.”
When she approached the rear left door of the white Toyota Prius, Rob, who isn’t tall enough to ride most bikes without lots of seat adjusting, stepped aside to allow Whitehead to “assume her rightful submissive position as a woman,” as Whitehead puts it. With her knees nearly skimming her chin, Whitehead spent the entire car ride listening to Rob and Ken shouting across her torso to rank all of Led Zeppelin’s albums in order from “least cerebral” to “most cerebral,” while driver and team captain Rick chimed in with an occasional “No way, bro.”
“It was at that point that knew that I had to transport myself to a different place mentally if I was going to survive,” reflects Whitehead. “It was apparent that they did not intend on including me in a conversation. Or maybe they genuinely forgot I was there. After all, I was curled up in a very tiny ball.”
After a failed attempt at napping, Whitehead developed a crick in her neck and was too sore to play softball. “It was a shame I got benched for the most important game of the season,” she says, “but I definitely took one for the team in that car ride.”
When asked for comment, Ken said, “I thought it made sense,” while desperately trying to reach the coffee he put on top of his car. “Girls are just smaller than guys.”