Gender and cars

Just as with men and women, the ‘bodies’ of cars can be interpreted as feminine and masculine. Within my research, I have looked at Gender (2012) by Harriet Bradley to begin looking at the characteristics we give male and female bodies, to see if this can be translated to cars. Bradley writes that “The ideal male body is the same as a sportsman, hard, well-built and muscular…” (Bradley, 2012, p169). So far, the only car I have come across which was called Ben, which is predominantly seen as a male name was a rat look VW Beetle (rat look means it has a rusty style) which goes against this male body stereotype, or perhaps it was because of the old style the car had that the owner went for the name Ben, thinking it resembled an old man.

Moving on to women’s bodies Bradley states “Women’s bodies, by contrast, are sexualised, displayed scantily clad, and the ideal is of thinness…” (Bradley, 2012, p169). This does not translate as well when thinking about cars, however slim line cars tend to be feminised more than trucks or bigger cars. The cars I’ve come across which have been given feminine names are a Porsche (Penelope), VW Beetle (The Bitch) and two VW Camper Vans (Goddess and Amber). Cars such as Beetles and Camper Vans tend to be given female names more than male, perhaps this is due to their curves.

I’m sure that most people do not think this deeply into why they’ve named their car Ben or Penelope, and when talking to people about their cars they either do not have a reason, or it was the previous owner who named it. However, I think it’s interesting to think about, even if they’re not thinking about it, perhaps subconsciously elements of the car influence the decision.


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