It’s clear that Honda, in its attempts to woo the female driver with its new Honda Fit She’s, just does not get women – well, perhaps they understand a small and flighty sub-segment of the gender, but not women in general.
I’ve gone on record as saying that while I don’t find the idea of a car for women offensive or sexist, I’m not exactly sure how you’d create it given that women are, to a surprising extent, individual people each with their own hopes and wishes and desires and downright practical needs. But since I am a woman, I guess I can at least try to design a car for myself and some of my favourite women.
Let’s call it the Honda Fit Me. A few of the must-have features would be:
1. A seatbelt that’s wide and soft and satiny across the lap, so as not to crush and wrinkle delicate clothing. Is this because all women care about is their clothes? Am I saying women are just decorative objects who should be primarily concerned with their aesthetic value? No, smartypants. I’m saying that when men are dressed up, usually their shirt is tucked in, so they don’t need to worry about wrinkling anything. But a woman is just as likely to be wearing an untucked shirt or a dress, the front of which will look like yesterday’s used paper lunch bag after she gets out of her car. A seat belt that prevented this would be very woman-friendly indeed.
2. Immediate magical trash disposal. Do you know how many apple cores and seltzer bottles there are in my car right now? In the backseat there are probably banana peels that are approaching unrecognizability, and enough pretzel crumbs to coat a Turducken. I realize not all women have children, but all the women I know regularly eat breakfast and/or lunch on the fly in their car, and it shows. In my special car, I’ll toss an apple core aside and it will vanish before it hits the floormat. No, I don’t know how; that’s Honda’s division. What, do I have to do everything here?
3. Verbal self-diagnosis. I don’t want a check engine light. That is not useful to me, as I walk into the mechanic’s shop and say, “It’s my check engine light. It is on.” What I want instead is a voice that self-activates whenever the check engine light normally would, but instead of just saying “check engine,” it tells me in simple but non-patronizing language exactly what’s the matter with the car. So when I walk into the mechanic’s shop I can say, “Think it’s the differential not running true with the tertiary,” chew on my toothpick, and gaze off into the distance while they think, “Wow. Now there’s a woman who knows what’s what.” Of course, within minutes they’d be examining my car and they’d know that it told me to say that… but those few moments of imaginary authority would be intoxicating.
4. An understanding GPS applied to real life. I am sick of my GPS passive-aggressively “recalculating” whenever I choose to depart from its advice. The GPS on the Me would have a laid-back, hey-everything’s-cool-baby kind of voice. As we start out he’d say, “You already know how to get there, right? Cause if you need me to I could remind you of some of the turns.” When I get us lost, he’d say, “Hey! I’ve never seen this part of town before.” When lost becomes hopelessly lost, he’d say, “Listen, you never want to arrive right at the beginning with these things, it’s just a cattle chute.” When I’m ready to give up and ditch the event, he’d say, “Some things happen for a reason. Want to go for a drive on the back roads, just you and me?” He’d be like the big brother I never had.
5. A gas pedal that accommodates female footwear. If you’ve ever tried driving while wearing very high heels, you know that it feels a bit like the car has a split personality – half of it wants to zoom forward and the other half wants to drag you back. I’ve actually been told that it’s not safe to drive in high heels, because it’s hard to regulate the pressure you put on the gas pedal. So, in my car, it will… not be that way. Something will be done to the gas pedal so that I don’t have to drive to my college roommate’s wedding wearing a fancy dress and flip flops.
What will be done to it? I don’t know, something. Seriously, do I look like some kind of engineer over here?
6. Verbal dexterity. Often when I’m on the road, I witness behaviour that calls for so much more than a toot of the horn. The horn is so, well, monotone (okay, dual tone, but singularly syllabic at any rate). Sometimes the great panoply of human behavior just demands a more nuanced response, which you just can’t deliver with a horn blast. Like the time I was in the car with my mother – I was about five or six – and just as she was about to pull away from a stop sign a bicyclist rode right in front of her. She hit the brakes just in time, leaned out her open window, and yelled, “You got a lotta faith in human nature, buddy!” Tell me you could express that with a horn blast.
So my Me would have, not a horn, but a series of witty verbal comments accessible via a panel on the dashboard. But of course you can’t be searching through panels trying to find the perfect bon mot – by then the bicyclist will be gone. So, the panel will be wired to the car’s computer and voice recognition software. Whatever you mutter under your breath, the panel would translate into the wittiest option available to express that sentiment.
So there it is, the Honda Me. Though as long as we’re making the Me I don’t think I want Honda to make it. No, let’s make it a Dodge Charger Me, Dammit, turbo diesel, which has been retrofitted with a biodiesel system that lets it run on old French fries and petrified apple cores. And let’s make it cherry red. A girl can dream.