In this series on the blog, Masculinity &: I look at Masculinity and men’s relationships with everything from food to fashion, sport to sickness…
Men & Motors
I’m afraid if you think this is going to be some sort of nostalgic look back on soft porn digital channel of the 90s, a symbol in many ways of the less sophisticated side of the “New Lad Era” then you will be disappointed.
Although now I think about it, it does have some relevance to what I am going to talk about. It served as a reminder, that at a basic level, a lot of men seem to like basic things i.e. tits and motors.
Tits are far from basic I hear you cry, and I’m not going to argue with you there. I have got myself into many a tangle with a bra strap.
But forget the tits for a moment, if you will. I want to talk about masculinity and motors. Men’s apparent obsession with the mechanical engine. An innate human connection with something engineered and lacking any human characteristics, or at least none which I would cherish.
I appreciate that not all men like cars. Me being one of them. But there is no doubt within our society there seems to be an accepted link between masculinity and motors. Boys and their toys. Men and their cars. The stereotype works just as searingly the other way around. Women can’t drive. Women aren’t “practical.” Women don’t become engineers.
I suppose the link between masculinity and motors is relatively obvious. Men want to appear to be powerful, robust, fast, dirty even. And yet at times beautiful, well designed. Men see themselves in motors. They offer them not only the opportunity to experience the thrill of speed, or power, but also to outwardly represent wealth, skill and competency.
With no animals to hunt, perhaps we have turned to the advances in mechanics to showcase our primal masculinity.
I personally don’t understand it. But then as a man, I am not represented by motors. I am not powerful. I am not robust. I’m not particularly fast. Although I can occasionally be quite dirty.
But I’m not practical. Nothing about an engine appeals to me. To me they are hugely unattractive. They feel dangerous, complex and filthy. You can have that one for your tinder profiles lads.
A car, or a train, or a plane is nothing more than a vehicle to me. All I want it to do is get me from A to B. I don’t care how it does it. I don’t care what it looks like.
I also don’t see them as an opportunity to showcase one’s wealth or status. Perhaps because I have neither. But an obsession with ludicrously expensive, fast cars, I find vulgar, base and vacuous.
One phenomenon that I have never understood but I witness every time I go to Anfield is young lads, and grown men, stood admiring the empty parked cars of millionaire footballers. Or more likely their wive’s. They gawp, they take pictures, they even take pictures of themselves stood next to them. As if they were the footballer themselves. I find the whole ritual thoroughly depressing and utterly pathetic. Have some self respect. Is your life so bad, and your self esteem so low, that you fawn over the status and wealth of an unknown footballer?
Get a grip.
I’m not competitive. I know what I’m good at, and I know what I’m not. I’m a fucking terrible driver. Who cares. I do my best not to kill myself or anyone else, that’s the best I can hope for. I don’t enjoy driving, I avoid it as much as I possibly can. For a start it doesn’t half disrupt my consumption of alcohol.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am glad that not all men are like me. For me to get anywhere relatively quickly I need the industrial revolution and mechanical engineering to have happened. So I am very thankful that there are men out there who are turned on by pistons and petrol, but I don’t think it should be some prerequisite of being a man.
Some of us are more interested in the less practical elements of being a bloke, some of us don’t think there is anything wrong with not being powerful, robust or fast. It is as equally important that some of us are thoughtful, empathetic and artistic. So let’s celebrate both beasts.
In the meantime, I won’t await my call to go on Top Gear anytime soon.