On needlessly gendered automobiles

Dear Dad,

Remember how people used to joke you were a lesbian because you drove a Subaru? What a gas, right?

And then there was the time I borrowed a boyfriend’s Pontiac Vibe, and a guy friend told me, “Ew, that’s a girl’s car.” Or the Honda dealership ad a coworker told me about that said dads should trade in their minivans for SUVs to get their “man card” back. So funny!

But why do you think we feel the need to gender objects that are so completely non-gender-specific? Why can’t a man drive a Subaru because he likes the safety features, or a Vibe because it handles well? What’s unmanly about a father taking his kids to soccer practice in the minivan?

The root of the problem is gender roles, which are a boon for companies. By playing into and helping construct ideas of what is masculine and feminine, companies can sell more products, as this helpful video form The Checkout explains:

After all, telling men that their vans aren’t manly enough is a great way to get them to turn in perfectly good automobiles in exchange for newer ones. It feeds the economy. But then, it ends up hurting men as they buy into the idea that there’s a right and wrong way to be a man.

It helps perpetuate a toxic idea of masculinity as the rough, rugged, stoic man with a beer in hand, a football jersey, and a Ford truck.

In my ideal world, we’d pick our cars not based on gender, but on where we want to go.




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