CarGirl: What Real Women Drive

February 12, 2006

Mechanic’s Tale: What Real Men Drive by Douglas Flint (12/26/2005)
You’re not thinking Miata, are you?


More from the keys of Carol Traeger 


Carol Traeger

Carol Traeger

Last November, TCC ran a column by Douglas Flint entitled “What Real Men Drive,” in which he claimed real men don’t drive macho HUMMER H2s or diesel Ford F-350s; they drive International Scouts and Chevy El Caminos. And if they can’t get their hands on one of those out-of-production models, other real-man options include:


·         Any convertible (the Mazda Miata excepted) as long as the top stays down whenever it’s not raining or snowing

·         Any plain-Jane American four-door sedan (think Ford Crown Vic or Buick LeSabre)

·         The Jeep CJ series (“pre-Eighties wussification”)

·         Anything with a plow on it


In response to his column, TCC reader Erin Mays wrote a letter to the editors praising Flint on his choices and concluding with, “I’m just eagerly awaiting ‘What Real Women Drive’ by TCC’s CarGirl.”


So this one’s for you, Erin, albeit three months late.  


What is a real woman?


The problem with Flint ’s column is he never defines what a “real man” is. He simply tells us what real men drive, as if the car defines the man. If that were the case, according to Flint ’s vehicle choices, all “real men” would have battle scars, wear Brut cologne and look like the Brawny paper towel guy, plaid flannel shirt and axe included. Not that any of those are bad things.


Real women, on the other hand, are much harder to define. Unlike lumberjacks, real women are multi-dimensional and complex. They’re sophisticated, smart, confident, classy, sensitive, sensual, have more than a little chutzpah, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and guises: Think Jackie O, Princess Grace, Oprah Winfrey, Madonna. The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde. Sophia Loren. TCC’s writers and ad sellers.


In a perfect world every real woman would own at least four cars — one for each phase of the lunar cycle. But this being an imperfect world, most real women get by with one (maybe two) vehicles at a time. 


Over the course of a lifetime, a woman goes through more demographic (and hormonal) changes than does a man. (Remember Gail Sheehey’s Passages?) So it follows that women switch car segments more frequently than do men. Does a man trade in his Porsche for a minivan when he gets his wife pregnant?  No. It’s the woman who switches cars when the “family situation” changes. 


A “real woman” will drive whatever vehicle best fits her current lifestyle and responsibilities. (But when she’s 18 she’ll drive whatever her parents hand down to her or deem to be the safest car.)


In drastic circumstances, real women have even been known to drive (gulp!) minivans. But you can bet they ditch those vans the day their kids fly the coop. That’s when they opt for something sexy and self-indulgent, something that says more about them than the people who share the same last name. 


Of course, a real woman is a real woman (RW) no matter what she drives. But when you see a woman behind the wheel of one of the following cars (listed in order of a woman’s life stages), you can be 99.9 percent sure you’re looking at the genuine article. 

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