Are there such things as men's and women's cars? Should men drive women's cars? Should women drive men's cars? What if your car preference doesn't match your biological sex? Is there such a thing as automotive gender?
These are big questions. Questions that don't need to be asked or answered. Not in 2019. But let's try.
I've been driving a Ford Ranger for the past few years. Arguably a vehicle that skews male. He was a great truck. I called him Butch.
Yet the mother of my children loved Butch more than I did. It was over-speced and oversized for our urban existence. A 4x4 that never left the road. A tray that never carried wood, feed or livestock. We were driving a lot of vehicle, short distances. Then trying to wedge her into tight parking spaces. All that space was used for storing kids' sports gear and groceries. It became a rolling closet.
So I took Butch back and got me a Focus Titanium. I love her. Called her Rachel. So zippy. So many cool features. Auto park, blind-spot warning and the like. Great mileage.
The gender and products is a bit of an issue in the news at the moment. Recently, a Wellington woman started an online petition calling on Kmart to remove gender labels from children's clothes. She didn't like that the dinosaur shirts were in the boys' section. Surely there are bigger things to worry about. Like does a VW Golf skew male or female? What if it's convertible?
I wasn't aware I had bought a woman's car until I arrived at work for the first time. I thought I had bought a smaller car for convenience. Because it looks cool and has mags. But my co-worker Jerry yells as I pull up: "Haha, Heath, you bought a woman's car". I didn't care. Nothing wrong with having a woman's car.
What makes the Suzuki Swift, left, any more girly than a RAM 1500 pick-up?
If that even is a thing.
Matt Heath: The high-cost of living in NZ (but look at what's free!)
Jerry from work drives a 2013 Mazda 3 he claims is a man's car. If a metallic-grey 2019 Ford Focus is a woman's car why is a 2013 Mazda 3 a man's car? Is Jerry sexist to say there are men's and women's cars? He claims no. He points out manufacturers design and market cars with sexes in mind.
To prove the point, he put me through a very simple mind experiment. One you can do, too. Someone has a gun at your head. They demand you say whether a particular car is male or female. No time to think. No time to worry about the current climate. No time to signal that you don't care about gender, sex and how that relates to automotive design. Just go with your first thought, your gut feeling or get shot. Are the following cars more male or female? Here we go.
Suzuki Swift — male or female? A Dodge RAM 1500 — male or female?
We all know which way you went on those. Which suggests for whatever reasons, cultural or biological there are sexes of cars.
No one is saying a woman can't drive a RAM or a man a Suzuki Swift. Each to their own. But there is clearly something about them that is gendered.
Some cars have no particular feel. You will struggle to place these ones quickly.
Porsche Cayenne — male or female? Audi Q8 — male or female? Honda Odyssey — male or female? Toyota Prius — male or female? Some cars' sexes change with the year.
A two-door 1996 RAV4 feels female. But a four-door 2019 RAV4? That's harder to say.
I drove a male-skewing car for years. I loved him. Butch was my friend. Now I have a car that has been referred to by one workmate as a "woman's car".
Well, if it is, I don't care. I love my woman's car. She makes me feel good. We go well together. She is a great parallel parker. She's fast. Maybe more men should slide into women's cars. And vice versa.
Having said that. She's not a woman's car. What's he bloody talking about?
Not that it matters.