"When a woman's at the wheel, Polyglas means more than mileage."

It's probably exaggerating to say that this Goodyear tyres advert from 1967 is the most sexist of all time. After all, there's so much competition for that dubious accolade.

Leaving aside that dodgy spelling of Polyglas, this 60-second commercial isn't just an amusing museum piece in terms of its attitudes and production. With more than a million hits on YouTube this advert is still right at the cutting edge of the debate about attitudes towards women drivers.

I use the word "debate" with some hesitation to describe what takes place on forums like YouTube and Twitter these days. I should warn that if you're of a sensitive disposition many of the comments posted under the Polyglas video are highly offensive to women -- in any decade.

"Dear Goodyear, please place this commercial back on the networks. But not from 5pm-6:30pm because that's the time women are cooking dinner." (anonymous poster, 2011)

Is it naive of me to admit that I can't believe how many of these "women belong in the kitchen" comments I've seen on message boards recently?

Putting the outrage aside, though, it is interesting just how quickly and how easily some male commenters fall into the same lazy and misogynistic patterns when the subject of women behind the wheel is raised.

Some might claim that joking about old adverts is just harmless fun and that any woman who objects to being ridiculed is simply lacking the humour gene. Wrong. It is good to be able to laugh about sexual stereotypes -- sometimes -- but the debate has to move beyond that playground level.

I'd like to think that these chauvinists are in the minority. But it really doesn't help women drivers in 2011 to feel that there's still this groundswell of sexist opinion circulating on the internet and permeating into the "real" world.

On a positive note, there are some great websites out there now, like the FOXY Ladies Drivers Club in the UK and Women-Drivers.com in the US. These sites help put women drivers in touch with female-friendly dealers and services, as well as providing a safe and non-sexist environment for ladies to discuss motoring issues.

In an ideal world, women drivers wouldn't have to seek out women-only sites for their motoring needs. They should know that every site is like AutoeBid -- a place for information and not denigration.

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