The Car You Drive Makes You More of a Man?

October 21st, 2011

Hummer H1

We’ve had a good deal to say on this blog on the subject of so-called chick cars, particularly about the male chauvinism evident in the promotion of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle.

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.

Sexy girl and carThese 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?

—jgoods

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Volkswagen Beetle
Used Hummer H1
Used Lamborghini Murcielago
Used Ford F-150
Used Ford Mustang
Used Mazda MX-5 Miata

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  1. Randy
    October 22nd, 2011 at 16:53 | #1

    I’ve never needed a car, or anything else for that matter, to attract and interest the ladies.

    Oddly, in my experience, many of my past cars like my ’55 chevy convertible, 64 plymouth hemi belveder, Buick Grand national, etc. were of more interest to my male gearhead friends than women, so I’d have to say that so-called macho machines are more likely to attract same-sex passengers.

    On the home front, I’ve never been ashamed to drive my wife’s girlie-mobiles like her 1985 Civic Wagon, Saturn SL-1 or her cute little GMC Jimmy with 2-tone paint. It’s just part of being part of a couple and some healthy give and take. My wife does let me pick the candidates, though, since I know a lot more about cars than she does, but I’ve always been able to find something for her that she liked to drive.

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