Patriarchy and the Motor Car


1-car-mechanic-working-aloysius-patrimonioAccess to a motor vehicle of one’s own has long been linked to personal freedoms. Those of movement to buy and work, as well as the financial ownership of a means of transport to call ones own. However, why is it that the domain of cars is so utterly dominated by men? Do women not have the same entitlement to freedom as men do? Many of you may protest against this kind of questioning, as you say, many women have access to and indeed own a car of their own. And you would be correct in your statement. Despite this, a climate prevails of the “macho” nature of cars and car ownership. Even the title “boy racer” denotes a solely male occupation. Many car manufacturers, particularly Toyota (and other Japanese companies), Ford and the French triumvirate (Citroën, Peugeot and Renault) produce notable gender neutral and even female marketed vehicles on the production line. In my eyes this is less down to feminist conviction than targeting a market for increasing profits (I hope someone can prove me wrong on this). 

Often the occupation of a mechanic is toted as an area where women are still heavily unrepresented, and many argue fair enough. Manual labour jobs provide an area of great friction upon gender equality in work. However, my own father being car mechanic I can easily see a woman doing his job. The use of brute force and purely physical strength is not that commonly employed, and when utilized it is common practise to use aid from another co-worker, to avoid excessive strain. What I want readers to ask themselves is whether the patriarchal dominance of the motor car -and the freedoms it brings- is a result of a prevailing view of cars as a male pursuit, or is this a natural phenomena occurring due to the traditional male adeptness at car mechanic-ing. I think you can guess which was the present author sways -towards the former. If car ownership and repair was less advertised as a male ideal, and women were made to feel more included in advertisement I envision a situation where the car and the personal freedoms it brings could be distributed more equally. 

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