Saturday, 11 February 2012

Truck driving women

This has been on my mind so I'll post on it. Several people told me about a programme on Channel 4 called MotherTruckers, thanks Jules and Don't unplug your hub, I watched it last night on 4oD. My first thoughts were why do they even have to make a programme about women working in a male dominated profession, surely all is equal now after all these years. As usual they use the same old cliche 'working in a man's world'. I want to shout at the screen, haven't I been saying for years there is no such thing as men's jobs and women's jobs, there are jobs for everyone. But that is Channel 4 for you, using emotive words for dramatic effect. You have to take what they say with a pinch of salt. The title of the programme leaves it wide open to abusive comments, it is truly awful.

The women they have chosen for this programme, and I think it may be a series, are a mixed bunch, but hey such is life, we are all a mixed bunch. I have met Wendy the instructor at truck shows, in the past. At the beginning I thought, here we go again, I've heard it all before. The aspirations of women who have a passion for their job, the struggles to get accepted, the loneliness, and the joy of finding other women who have the same passion. It brought back all my memories of my Lady Truckers Club, the club I founded in 1986.

I remember well the thrill I got from driving a 40 ton articulated truck around the country, sleeping in it, waking up and for a few seconds wondering where I was. Camping out in layby's and truckstops, being one of the lads and having a pint or two. I like to think I did my bit fighting for the rights of women to drive trucks. I ran the club single handed for seven years, built it up from nothing to over 350 members nationwide. An achievement I am proud of.

The programme, my thoughts. I kind of warmed to it as it went on, as I got to know the characters, and what was going on in their lives. It kind of made them human, not robots sitting in a cab for hours on end. I felt Vikki Marie the transexual was put in for novelty value, a cheap trick which Channel 4 is famous for. This wasn't new to me, we had a male to female transexual in my Lady Truckers Club years ago, so wake up Channel 4. I have every respect for people who undergo gender reassignment, she was very brave to take part. We also had a mother who took her young daughter out with her in a baby seat in her own truck, so nothing new there. I also know of two other female instructors, one of whom has her own truck. The girly night was funny and showed that although they are truckers they still have a feminine side, and do not have to behave like men all the time.

All in all the programme was entertaining, it was made for the general public and not just for truckers, and I am sure many people would have enjoyed it. How did I feel at the end of it, I felt very sad. Sad that I am no longer one of the girls. It's nice to see young up and coming ladies just starting out in their career, but it brings it home to me that I am getting older and my career is over. For a while I wanted to be back there, I wanted to sit in a truck again. I know just how that young lady felt as she came to a halt on the M62 as she hit the back if a traffic jam, I remember it well. She lives in my local area though I don't know her.

After watching I went onto a truckers forum to read what they were saying about it. I am sad to say I was horrified by their cruel and vile words, words that I would not to wish to inflict on my readers here. If you have a vivid imagination you might guess what they wrote. Basically they pulled the whole programme to pieces. A lot of their vitriol was aimed at the physical appearance of the women, Wendy, as an older lady, got a slating, as did Vikki Marie. They also leered at the younger women, treating them as slabs of meat rather than human beings, if you get my drift, typical tabloid newspaper garbage. They poked fun at the girls efforts to master the art of driving a large vehicle, forgetting that they once had to go through the process of learning. I suppose they were perfect from day one.

I am very disappointed to learn that sex discrimination in transport is still rife after all these years, but as long as some men have their brains in their testicles, things will not change. I've a good mind to resurrect the original Lady Truckers Club, just to let these testosterone fuelled truckers know that I am back with a vengeance. I'm going to have to stop now before I explode.


  1. Go for it missis!! Those bloke need a few good jibes by the sounds of it. I didn't see the programme, so I can't offer an opinion, but yeah, channel4 does like to 'sexualise' most things.
    I once drove a flatbed breakdown truck from just south of Gloucester to Moss-side in Manchester, with a car on the back I might add. You should have seen the looks when I drove it up the back streets to the guys house!! Made my day that did! LOL
    Been watching channel 5's 'worlds greatest trucker' on a Friday night. That's entertaining!! What a bunch of whingers!!
    Teri xx

  2. I agree with every word MQ -
    we are supposed to live in a world of sexual equality - but in reality it's far from the truth.
    We women still have to fight tooth and nail for what we want, and to achieve our ambitions.
    Anyway, you've been there and done that - good on 'yer girl !!

    1. Good on ya Ilona. I work at Twiglet's school and one of the mum's phoned a while ago to say she would be late as she was stuck in snow, so a childminder would be collecting her son. I asked what she did, turns out she is a truck driver and was one of the few people who hadn't abandoned her vehicle in the snow on the outskirts of London - girl power !!
      Twiggy x

  3. Illona, dont underestimate yourself, you have a new career, who else would teach people like you do to enjoy life, and not cost an arm and a leg. I have only admiration for you as a truck driver, and your zest for life. A few males could surely take a lesson from you.
    Pat, Sharonk mum xx

  4. I was looking forward to the programme although the title should have given me warning of how it would pan out. I'd hope that it'd give more insight into the job from a female perspective , which it did in a slight way. But in the end I just felt like they may as well have called it 'Carry On Trucking' and wheeled in Barbara Windsor . What a shame those women have worked hard to get where they are that they get the predictable 1970's sexist treatment. Come on Channel 4 we hoped better of you in this day and age. Don't feel sad Ilona you still have four wheels and a free spirit. The world is your oyster . Jules

  5. Nice to read your view of the Mothertruckers programme Ilona and to see that you are still enjoying your retirement. Although I am co-founder of Lady Truck Drivers UK (CLUB) I had no input in the filming for channel 4 as at the time I had been ill for a few months. I am at present on holiday for another week in South Africa and have been busy getting an article ready for our next magazine which is due out soon after I return home. Take care. Liz

  6. I,like you Ilona, do not beleive that a job is gender based. I have noticed that recently there has been a return to 'sexualizing' women pre 1970s style...look in the papers and at the trash on TV to see that the 'bimbo' woman seems to be the norm. I did a 'man's' job and was treated quite horrbly by some for 'taking a man's job away from him' (and much worse)...stupid! I hoped that we had left this all behind us...but making money from TV ratings on the backs of women is flourishing.Unless we refuse to watch /read then it will continue. What message are we sending to young girls/women coming after us?
    Jane x

  7. Ilona, I am very happy with your current station. I love reading your posts, looking at pics, and thinking seriously about what you say. You bring up a myriad of thought provoking ideas that would never occur if I didn't read your blog.
    As for the sexist ideas, they will not be stopped. There are always those who think a certain way about a gender or race, and I find in my travels, things are the same as they used to be even a hundred years ago in some parts... women should get married and have babies... Ugh. as if we are only good for our vagina's and Tits! I do get irked, but have to remember. I am am bigger than that. In college. I worked in a wood shop building furniture. I was the only girl, and a Yankee... a Northerner working in Georgia. There is still a difference between the north and south. Plus, I am a typical Yankee in that sense. More independent than most southern belles and quite a tom-boy. I am sure those fellas had a thing or two to say about me, but Really who cares. I love that I can build things and I don't need a man like so many others. I do have one, but it is just how things turned out. I wasn't looking for one. and when he starts getting all, "I'm the man" I remind him of the fact! :)
    Tootle Pip you awesome lady! you are well admired internationally. I doubt those men are.

  8. Yes, it's usually the dim witted ones are the ones who make these comments, because they are jealous that the myths they portray are 'a myth'.

    I've not watched the programme yet but my Mum told me about it. She used to drive what she alled 'big trucks' during the war. I'm sure I will find it interesting, because our involvement in the aggregate business.

    Why not start up The Lady Truckers' Club again?

  9. Ilona, you are an inspiration, and if you decide to bring back the club again, I think it'll be a fantastic support for the women, and you will be a fantastic mentor. I once met a female police officer if Pakistan (one of the few women who work in the Pakistani police force), who is talented, feisty, and strong. Your post brought back memories of that officer!

  10. I found your blog several months ago and always enjoy reading your posts. Regarding the comments you wrote about today--I don't understand why some people have to be so ugly and write comments that are hurtful. It really makes me mad. Thanks for standing up for what you believe in!

  11. Men who post horrible comments are just voicing their own insecurities. I met men when I was young who did nt think women should drive ! I did nt end up with any of them, I might add. They somehow feel threatened, poor babies.

  12. I agree with Lizzie!!

  13. Thank you for your comment LDS, I have copied and pasted it here. I have removed the link to your business, I think it's called spam, sorry not allowed.

    'Go for it.. I agree with Every word MQ.. Men who post horrible comments are just voicing their own insecurities'.

  14. I enjoyed reading your comments about the show. I am sharing it on a page I have on Facebook called "Real Women Truckers" which has a companion blog called "REAL Women in Trucking".

    I started it to expose problems for females in America who are being misled when they enter trucking.

    We would love to have you on our Facebook page if you are Facebook.

    We did have contact with several producers for this show from both the UK and here in the states.

    I have not been able to watch the show because I am in California but have followed the press releases.

    I was glad the UK team wanted to show more diversity in the Women which was not so for the American casting representitives.

    Over here we have some big problems in the carriers who train students and I am glad the general public is getting a look at real people with real complex lives as we all have that also happen to drive big trucks.


  15. I enjoyed the programme (aside from the awful title) and did feel quite inspired by the women on it. I don't have any desire to become a trucker (passing my car driving test was stressful enough!) but would love to have a go driving one of those trucks...must feel so powerful! hehe

  16. Hi Ilona if memory serves me right you drove for liecester heavy haulage way back in the eighties i rember seeing you on the road a few time along with lancashire lass she drove a brown tanker and there was Kay of Kays Haulage the dark pink volvo so lady truck drivers are nothing new there are a few idiots out there that see a woman driver and think right i wil help and my luck is in ( not a chance ) i have always viewed the ladies and always will as just another driver nothing special me included but like you i now am enjoying early retirement first lady trucker i ever saw was in 1986 and yes it was you Ilona rember you having pictures of men on your ERF B series sleeper cab passing knutsford services northbound so when i see them on tv to me they are just another trucker many thanks Phil.

  17. hi I enjoy reading your posts! I wrote a song called 'Truck Driving Woman' after reading an article about how hard is sometimes can be if you don't get the support of male colleagues to do your job. here is the youtube link hope you enjoy and keep blogging!

  18. This show was a clique in how some people see women doing jobs thats not considered the normal women job, I passed my HGV class 1 in Dec of last year, All the blokes I know who drive Trucks are proud of me for doing my test and give me offers of help and tips, one guy I know said Trace the best thing to do is be a girl not try to be a bloke and ask a driver for help IF you need it, no bloke driving knew it all they needed to be shown. Most drivers will help a new driver out if they can what ever your gender. I think and hope he is right bout t hat. I just wish I could get a job. I am told no experience no job catch 22 me thinks. Think A group to help women Truck drivers is good for peace of mind know your not the only one out there. Drive safe you ladies. Tracey.

  19. Can I just put a small comment in here please ? The title of the programme was originally going to be Girls in Gear - or something similarly awful but as my own nickname is Mothertrucker - and has been for many years as Illona will tell you - they changed the title to that with my permission. I am quite proud of that fact actually and having held the nickname for so many years cant think of it in any other way than simply my 'other' name. Yes Channel 4 did try to make it into a 'novelty' programme as they have no idea that there are so many women out there doing the job. I heard only recently that the camera crew trawled lots of truck stops interviewing male drivers trying to get them slagging down women drivers - but did not have any success! So that speaks for itself and well done those drivers!
    I agree that one of the trucking websites pulled us to pieces no end - there will always be morons who have nothing better to do than pick on others for what they see is fun - but sitting back and thinking about it in perspective Mothertruckers had close to three million viewers and were slated by around 100 mindless idiots so work that out in percentages! The majority loved us and got in touch to tell us so and since then we have been made very welcome in promoting trucking for women and have found little or no discrimination - in fact a huge amount of support - from the guys.
    We have since founded our own Lady Truckers Club called Mothertruckers - Lady Truckers Club which is entirely free for women to join and is proving very helpful for ladies who are coming in to the business and we hope we can run it as well and make it as popular as the original club founded by Illona.

  20. I didn't saw that tv programme, but I can say it is really far from the truth. I graduated in a truck driving school and after that I got a job that usually a man's profession. So many people are asking me I choose this profession, but I just reply that "isn't it illegal?" how funny. I think, it is really in a woman's heart if she wants to continue or not. Me? I continued.


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