The latest news from the small towns of central Czech Republic involves cardboard, miniskirts, and an imaginative — or unimaginative, depending on your politics — police force. Local village officials have found a way to reduce speed-related automobile accidents in a most cost-effective manner: by placing life-sized cardboard miniskirted women in high-speed zones. And according to the mayor of the town called Mrakotin, it's working!
OK. So, say you're a guy, just an ordinary Czech guy, and you're just heading to work one morning like usual, speeding. It's freezing outside and your wife has been a pain and you're probably having mild heartburn from all the sauerkraut and Pilsner Urquell you had this morning. As your foot presses the accelerator, you round a bend and spot a tall woman, beautiful, standing next to the road. Not another Pilsner flashback, you think to yourself, but in Czech. You slow just a bit to see that she's wearing a hat and a yellow vest that reads "Police." But, more importantly, you notice her shapely legs under a tiny skirt. As you approach the woman, your heart is racing, but your car, remarkably, is not.
Do you stop to talk to her? Do you ask her to hop in? Do you even care that she's cardboard?
None of the questions is relevant because the point is men are no longer speeding! And, instead, they're taking time to really appreciate the delicate beauty of the fairer sex! Or so these officials would like us to think...
Before laying praise on the Czech for this innovative fix, let's look at some of the potential long-term effects. It's worth asking whether there might be an inverse effect on male's relationships with women, sort of like the trend with red-blooded American men unable to get it up for anything that's not spread out on the pages of Maxim. Could we see an increase in marital discord and divorce, prefaced by the phrase, "Honey, I'm in love with the cardboard policewoman"? And where does this leave Czech women? Will there be an influx in eating disorders and plastic surgeries as ordinary women struggle to match the shiny perfection of their cardboard counterparts? (Probably not!) Will we see a counter-campaign to include "real" and plus-sized women stationed on roadsides? (Unlikely!) Sure, speeding is reduced, but at what cost to the holy institution of marriage and the pending publication of the DSM V in 2013? (Almost certainly no cost!)
But it's all too soon to tell. The AP does note the suspicious disappearance of a few cutouts, indicating a possibly troubling reality behind those tough paper facades.
Karina Briski writes and lives in Seattle, in a house named Dennis Quaid.