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Auto Know: What makes it a 'chick car' anyway?

How exactly has it come to pass that vehicles have adopted a gender?

I’m not speaking of the tradition of referring to ships and large vessels as “she,” but rather the label we, as a society, slap onto vehicles as being either masculine or feminine.

Vehicles are mere machines that can be operated by either sex, yet gender labels persist, even in politically-correct 2012.

Take convertibles, for example. Pondering how vehicle gender is decided, the best rationale I could come up with is that muscle car, mega-luxury and land-yacht convertibles qualify as being a “dude car” (i.e. Porsche, Mustang, Corvette, Rolls-Royce), whereas cute, compact convertibles seem to qualify as “chick cars” (think VW Cabriolet, Fiat 500, Mazda Miata).

Now, I’m not saying that any of this is right or wrong, but just pointing out that such gender-assignments exist in our world. It also doesn’t help the gender-neutral argument that buyers of certain model cars do tend to be female.

Of course, not everyone buys into gender-appropriate vehicle labels. For example, elderly immigrant men riding ladies’ bicycles are a common sight in my Richmond Hill neighbourhood. It’s even a bit cliché in the area, sorry to say.

I’m told that in their former-communist country of origin, there is no such thing as a man’s or woman’s bicycle – just a bicycle. Presumably, new immigrants carry this philosophy with them here to Canada (and wonder why the locals stare).

But then again, when you think about it, all scooters with the “knees together” seating position would also fit the technical definition of a ladies’ bicycle since there’s no top bar.

The same goes for regular bicycles. The traditional men’s bike, with its sturdy “triangle” mainframe, used to be the standard for pro riders, regardless of gender. But now, the sideways “Y” frame common on many hi-tech bikes would, if you’re judging by old standards, qualify as a girl’s bike since it lacks a top bar per se.

So, political-correctness aside, I guess “chick-cars” garner their label based on compactness and/or affinity of female buyers and for bikes and scooters, by whether or not the vehicle must be mounted or is skirt-friendly. (Of course these are outdated and old-fashioned notions, but I’m just trying to make sense out of what doesn’t make any sense.)

Then again, paint any car, truck or army tank neon pink and right or wrong, society labels it a “chick car.”

And, for anyone outraged that I’d dare discuss such a “hot potato” topic, let’s keep in mind that the “chick car” label doesn’t necessarily have a pejorative connotation. In fact, many vehicle owners proudly proclaim female ownership in hopes of getting more money when selling. That’s why the term “lady-driven” features predominantly in many ads, isn’t it?

  • Auto Know: What makes it a 'chick car' anyway?

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