In one piece, I said, “In order to be real guys, many [car writers] have to flaunt their sexist preferences in cars.” And the chest-beating continues. In an MSN Autos blog post on Manly Machines, author James Tate shows us 10 cars—mostly muscle and mostly predictable—that will, he says, inject machismo into your life.
If that’s what you need to get machismo, you’ve got a problem, Jack.
Tate’s lead is that the car industry offers “increasingly bland” and “wussified” vehicles, which his choices then proceed to disprove, as most of those shown are current models. Except for a few like the Hummer H1 (above), which is a joke, I think.
Those infected with this sort of participation mystique are men who have symbolic fantasies about cars. It’s like what the psychologists call projection—in which a person imagines himself endowed with the qualities he thinks the object, the car, represents.
These guys also seem to have weird ideas about gender and what’s appropriate for women and men to drive. Would a chick drive a Lamborghini Murcielago (one of the Manly Machines)? Of course not. Or a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor? Don’t be silly.
Is it okay for undraped sexy chicks to pose with the latest show car or hot rod? Well, why not? It’s a tradition. Most gender roles, in one way or another, are.
Now, I think there are very real differences in the way cars appeal to men and women. Women tend to like cars they describe as “cute,” good-looking and tasteful. They definitely do not go for Big Boss power, or boy-racer spoilers and add-ons, or the hulking brute look.
The marketers are well aware of these gender-approval distinctions, and so cars like the Boss 302 Mustang live on, despite the fact that they are rolling antiques.
I’m not saying that guys have no right to express a preference or create a wish-list. They also can drive Miata MX-5s—or whatever they want. I once drove a used 1974 Porsche 914, which was, as someone said, “a chick magnet.” But I bought the car because it was rust-free, had a 2-liter engine with Weber carb conversion, Bilsteins, Abarth mufflers, etc. Etc.
Which side are you on here? Do you believe in cars as objects of machismo or objects of pleasure?