On a very special "Saved by the Bell" episode (yes, we know they were all special, but this one was extra
special), "the gang" is learning how to drive. "What's the first thing you do when you get into a car?", the instructor asks. "Adjust the mirrors," Lisa answers. "Correct! Why?" "To check my makeup." Cue laugh track.
We're not sure if the esteemed(?) writers were making fun of just Lisa or of women drivers in general. Perhaps they would have been less trigger-happy if they knew who came up with the idea for the rear-view mirror. Dorothy Levitt, an English Jew, "The Fastest Girl on Earth".
Levitt was a driving pioneer, the first woman to take part in a "motor-car" race, and the first to win one. She set speed records, taught the Queen of Denmark to drive, and published a guide for women drivers. In the book, she suggested that women should "hold the mirror aloft from time to time in order to see behind while driving in traffic". Definitely NOT to check their makeup.
Levitt's book came out in 1906, but rear-view mirrors didn't start being mounted on cars until 1914. So, clearly she was ahead of her time...
She also suggested that all women should carry a gun with them while traveling.
Now that's a "Saved by the Bell" episode we want to see.