Blue vs. Pink
It starts from the moment you’re born. Boys get blue and girls get pink. Boys get G.I. Joe and Hot Wheels, and girls get Barbie and Easy Bake ovens. Boys learn to work with their hands while girls learn to nurture. Recent generations have started to burr the lines on gender specific childhoods, but it will be awhile before a child is free to play with whatever their heart’s desire without judgement.
This unwritten rule of what a child should be playing with grows up into adulthood and it’s a contributor to why the car is seen as a male dominate hobby. Few girls grow up having grease under their finger nails and holding a flashlight while their dad works on the family car. Even when they do, the color of their equipment will usually only come in pink.
When a Dream Becomes a Reality
I never understood men who feel threatened by women who love cars and can wrench or drive better than them. As a car-guy, shouldn’t it be a fantasy to meet a girl that isn’t annoyed at the thought of going to a car show with you? To meet a girl that will bring her own tool box to help you work on your race car. A girl can make you weak in the knees just by saying the phrase “An inline six with triple Weber carburetors”. It’s supposed to be a dream to meet someone you can fall in love and share a hobby with. So why do some men exclude women? Why do some men see women in the hobby as just a pretty face to look good next to their car?
The Woman Who Helped Create Our Obsession
If it wasn’t for women in the automotive world the car could have been delayed by several years, possibly decades.
In 1888, Bertha Benz became the first person in history to complete a long distance trip in one of the earliest examples of an automobile. Bertha Benz was the wife of Karl Benz, and their patent horse-less carriage is considered to be one of the first examples of the automobile. Although Karl Benz was a genius inventor, he struggled in the marketing department. The Benz family was also feeling the heat from another competing German engineer who was tinkering on his own automobile just a few miles away, Gottlieb Daimler.
Bertha Benz believed in her husband’s invention and decided to prove it to everyone by using it to travel 65 miles to her mother’s house. Benz’s car was a three wheeled, single-cylinder, 2.5 horsepower buggy that could sit one in the front and two in the back. Bertha left with her 2 sons on the world’s first ever road trip. The story of her journey is an article in itself, and the publicity created from her trip saved their company from going bankrupt.
The trial by fire road-test also led to Karl going back to the drawing board to work out all the bugs that Bertha faced on the 120 mile around trip, which lead to the introduction of the world’s first gear system. All you bros out there who love dumping the clutch on their V-tech’s owe their burnt clutches to Bertha Benz.
A woman saved the invention we would later revolve our lives around. She proved to people that the horse-less carriage was safe and easy to use. Her efforts got people on board with the idea of the automobile.
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a number of female car enthusiasts in my life and have admired them all for being as car-obsessed as me, if not more. They are the reason why I tend to stay away from using the term “car-guy” in my articles, because I know it’s not a one gender hobby.
I am not accusing all car-guys of discriminating against women enthusiasts, I’m saying that this type of thing does happen. There are car-guys out there who share my opinion just like there will properly be some who will read this and completely disagree.
As one female Gear-head said:
“You don’t steer with your boobs or shift with your penis, so why should it matter?”
– Kat Hagen
Biased Media Outlets
I constantly see the term “car-guy” being used to describe enthusiasts in popular automotive websites and even TV shows – media outlets that should know better than to ignore part of it’s target audience.
Car Throttle is guilty of constantly ignoring female car enthusiasts in their articles and media. They love carpet bombing the word “car-guy” all over their videos and articles. Even in videos where they compare non-car enthusiasts to Gear-heads they will still say, “Non-Car Guys”. Scan through the comment feeds of their content and you will find comments like, “car girls too.”
There are some articles and videos about car-girls but they are either written by guys or deal with the same repetitive topics. “The troubles of being a Car-girl”, “How to turn my girlfriend into a car-girl”, “Non-car girls vs. Car-girls”. Stuff we have seen at one time or another for years, nothing new.
Some Car Throttle loyalists will want to say that I am full of it. But, if you are a member of the site try searching for “car-girl”. All you will see are photos of attractive girls posing with cars, memes about how a girlfriend can drive a wedge between a car-guy and his race car, or memes about how rare and glorious meeting a car-girl can be.
Last year, I briefly wrote scripts for a Texas based TV show called, “The Car Guy Show”. I always had trouble with the name of the show because it implied that only men watched it, even though one of the main hosts is a woman – who is also a professional race car driver. Anyone with a fraction of knowledge in marketing will tell you that it’s an incorrect name for a television show trying to go national.
Don’t Pick Sides, Choose Common Sense
One of my female friends told me that in order to be a woman in this hobby you have to have tough skin and be able to take a certain amount of discrimination. That is not right. Our hobby is so massive because of its diversity.
There are so many nicknames for people who love cars: Motor-head, gear-head, lead-foot, petrol-head, rev-head, car-nut, car-freak, etc. So why has “car-guy” become the go-to name in our hobby? It’s time for all of us to start seeing car-girls as more than just objects to pose with our cars, or fantasies. Don’t be threaten that a girl knows more than you about cars, be glad that you can learn from her, and maybe fall in love in the process. Every Dom needs a Letty, and our hobby has enough room for two lanes.
For the record I am not a feminist, because I do not believe in picking one extreme over another. Everything has to be categorized to a point where you are forced to pick a team and join in on the debate instead of just using your own common sense to distinguish right from wrong.