Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Car Poll

As Shiraz pointed out, my car poll was flawed. Instead of providing the choice "my ideal man would not necessarily have a car", I threw in "my ideal man would not even know how to drive." There's a difference between the lack of a skill and the lack of an object, of course. I'm going to make a sweeping statement based in 40 years of being a Western woman who hangs out with Western women and say that, in general, Western woman care more about what men can do than what they have.

As a matter of fact, one woman of 163 found virtue in ignorance of driving. That such women exist should come as a relief to men who really hate cars that much. And I'm not knocking men who hate cars that much; there are real environmental and economic reasons to dislike cars. If they wish to eschew one of the great pleasures of life--getting out of the rain or snow into a warm box-on-wheels that smells nice and plays music and takes you wherever you want to go--that is okay by me.

Now, women who really could not care less about cars (but whose ideal man has a license to drive them) and women whose ideal would possess one got jumbled up, thanks to my even-less-scientific-than-ever-poll. But I think it worthwhile to point out that there were 147 of them, which was roughly 90%.

Yes, 90% of those who answered the poll said their ideal man had a car that was merely clean enough for them to sit in. I hope this knocks off the highway and into a ditch the libel that all women prefer men with flashy cars. We couldn't care less about flashy cars.

Well, 90% couldn't care less. Ten women out of 163 (6%) claimed their ideal man would have a really expensive-looking car. What is with this 6%, of whom I am numbered (which got me into a spot of trouble on the home front)?

Are we super-shallow? Or is there something symbolic about expensive-looking cars that speaks to something in our psyches? Many women despise expensive-looking cars because to them they represent overblown male egos and a waste of money better spent on something or someone else, like Iraqi orphans. But some women (a very small number) see the lines and shininess of an expensive automobile and the blood thrills in our veins. Maybe it represents adventure or speed or escape or comfort or all of the above. Or maybe it is about beauty. If Chesterton could get all dreamy and romantic about a lamppost, surely we can get dreamy and romantic about a luxury sedan.

Amusingly five women out of 163 (3%) claimed their ideal man had a car that would cause their brother(s) to weep with envy and their ex-boyfriends to contemplate suicide. Possibly they would not have thought up this choice on their own, and had never contemplated the possibility before I dangled it before their eyes. I assume our five chose it in a gleeful spirit of mockery at male vs male competition. That said, I would suggest they not make relationship choices primarily to annoy other people.

Of course, perhaps these women love the finest automobiles that money can buy but believe that they themselves will never possess them. In that case, I suggest they wiggle their way into the automotive industry, by hook or crook. If they were to become valets at one of the hottest spots in town, for example, they might finally find themselves inside the automotive exemplars they crave. They would also meet the men who drive them and then could decide for themselves, with experiential data, if a man with a glorious, outrageously pricey, car is a man worth having.

*If you know what model and make this is, you are probably not a woman. If you are, you probably have fetched a particularly car-crazed guy to tell you.


MaryT said...

I am of the six percent who would like him to have a really nice car.

Perhaps because it symbolizes financial fluidity and therefore security - for what woman does not want to be securely taken care of?

Perhaps because it displays an interest in aesthetic beauty - for can anyone argue that a beautiful car is not a work of art? And wouldn't you want someone who is concerned with beauty, rather than the opposite?

A really nice car, provided he is not a douche-bag, is a big check mark in the right direction.

Gabby said...

As long as I can get out of the car with presentable clothes, I don't care what he drives. Does it run? Yes? Will we be stranded? No? Alrighty then.

That's not to say that I don't like a nice car. If I could afford it I'd like a cherry red 67 Mustang with black interior. But since I'm an outdoors girl who likes to go places that a goat might have trouble with, I'd prefer a guy with an old beater who can take me where I want to go than a Mercedes he spends all his time polishing.

bachlives said...

I was one of the 3%. It was a dream scenario, right ;) In real life the car just needs to be clean and run well. He should take pride in the care of the car like he should take pride in the care of everything else in his life.

Sitting Pretty said...

Without looking it up, or asking a man, I can tell you that the car in question is most certainly an Audi, and I'm going to guess that it's the A8 model... or maybe the A6? Personally, I'd rather be driven around in a shiny little TT, but a sedan does have an appealing sort of long-term practicality about it.

The men in my family are absolutely CRAZY about cars, and whenever two or three are gathered, cars will be discussed. Honestly, if I brought a boyfriend home who didn't know anything about automobiles, he would probably have a difficult time being accepted by them at first. He wouldn't have to have a great car himself, but he would have to know how to care for what he's got, and recognize a real "whip" when he saw one.

I voted for "car clean enough for me to sit in". The men-folk would have me vote otherwise, but for myself, I'm fine with "doesn't stink".

Tara said...

Provoked into commenting:
That's an Audi (though I couldn't tell you which one). My dad and brother (both of whom I'm close with) are really into cars, so I almost couldn't help being into them, too. My husband isn't (as much), but that wasn't even remotely one of the factors I 'judged' him on before we married. The car that we have now is bottom-of-the-line, but it's served us wonderfully-- I wouldn't want a top-of-the-line car until retirement, if at all (too much money...). Perhaps because of this, my husband enjoys it when a particularly fancy car catches my eye and I can tell him what it is.

Tara said...

@Sitting Pretty: *high five*

Seraphic said...

Well done ladies! It IS an Audi A8.

theobromophile said...

I am one of the six percent... and I struggled with that or "clean enough for me to sit in." Then I looked again at the question and saw the word IDEAL.

Sure, it wasn't in capitals, but my ideal man would drive a nice car (Low-end Mercedes? Volvo? Acura?), take care of it, and drive it until it's 15 or 16 years old.

The last two men I dated both had nice cars - one a Lexus, one a BMW - and both bought them used and take pride in maintaining them. So I would have felt like a bit of a hypocrite dating such men for a long time and then saying, "Oh, my IDEAL man needn't have a nice car." It would be akin to a man having dated a few knockouts and then saying that looks don't matter one whit to him so long as she's healthy.

...but I don't think that my ideal man would have a Bentley or a Maserati.

Kate said...

I love cars and I'm a bit of a snob about them (I've owned a Volvo and a VW.....and would love an Audi). I like men who know their cars and even own a nice one, but I'm REALLY impressed by a man who knows how to fix one. A friend of mine would often appear with a screwdriver and randomly tighten things under my Volvo when it was dying. That is an attractive quality and certainly made up for his American-made car.

Claire Christina said...

@theobromophile, you said absolutely everything I wanted to say. (I don't have the same ex-boyfriend experience, but every other word might well have come out of my own mouth.) Thank you, and I agree .

Kate P said...

I struggled with this poll, too. My oddest real-life experience regarding cars and dates was the fellow who had a really old ("beat-up" is what we say) VW Golf (I think) with a top-of-the-line stereo installed in it. Which he informed me had been stolen out of the car TWICE before. And he had seen fit to put a new one in once more. (Maybe his insurance covered it?)

I loooove music, but that lack of common sense made me lose interest.

Little Mary said...

I like seeing a guy who is really proud of his car and treats it with TLC... I'd be intimidated with a guy who has a Bentley or something super-pricey, but I must admit I really do like it when a guy (in a fairly safe manner, of course) takes a few fast turns or shows what his engine can do... I guess maybe at some level I want somebody who pushes me a little out of my comfort level, is proud of me, and treats me well -- although the way one treats their car is not necesarily the way they treat their girl!

By the way Kate P, there is a country song about a guy with a clunker with an awesome radio... hope you hear it sometime, it's pretty funny.

amlovesmusic said...

I am one of the 6% who voted "expensive-looking". This is because I've gone on a few dates with a man who has a shiny black 2-door coupe in great condition. I feel very special when I ride in it, especially since he always opens the door for me. Before I met him I would have voted "clean enough for me to sit in," but now that I have experienced a man with an expensive-looking car, I can't go back.

Oh and I totally guessed an Audi too before seeing the comments here. I am somewhat interested in cars, especially which make and model they are. I have always liked shiny new cars, and I have always had favorites. I love Toyotas and Hondas, and have had good experiences driving Chevrolets. I couldn't tell you much about what goes on under the hood though. I just know which cars look pretty and drive nice. That is about all.

bolyongok said...

Auntie Seraphic, I would really like it if my ideal man drove a Bugatti Veyron but I realise that is kind of unlikely. It's not that I don't appreciate a beautiful car that can go FAST, it's just that in all likelihood my ideal man is a history teacher in central/eastern Europe and is pretty excited about _finally_ moving out of his parents' apartment and about driving his gently used Dacia Sandero which will fall squarely into the category of 'clean enough for me to sit in', except he might need an air freshener because my ideal man also has no vices worse than a slightly affected tobacco habit. :)
But yes, nice car a plus, in reality, anything with four wheels that can get you to and from work with minimal breakdowns will do.

Domestic Diva said...

What theobromophile & Claire Christina said.

Juventutem London said...

Can we get off this whole car topic please?

(Yes, that is man-language for 'I don't have a license, sad-face')

mary said...

When I think about all the characteristics my ideal man would have -- solid faith in God, a brilliant sense of humor, a compassionate heart, respect for women, humility, intelligence, to name a few -- who gives a flying Ferrari what he drives? The car is not what you're going to have to deal with day-in and day-out, the car is not going to be a loving father to the kids, and the car is not who you're coming home to every night for the rest of your life. Even on the scale of ideals, it doesn't matter.

I know many women would agree, and the stats here back that up. But like seriously it SO doesn't matter.

In other words, I just wanted the car to be clean :)

Anonymous said...

I voted for clean enough to sit in. But in the US at least, a lot of the flashiest cars on the road are really owned by the bank, not the driver.

Why would somebody take out a 60 month loan on a depreciating asset? Am surprised this didn't come up. Another reason cars don't impress me. Each to their own, I guess.

Isabella of the north

berenike said...

Juventutem London is a man. And there was me thinking it was an equal-opportunities youth thingummy.

Seraphic said...


Sitting Pretty said...

@mary - I'm with you!

The only useful connection that I can see between the ideal man and the car he drives is that the car would be one of many objects for his ACTUAL VALUES to work on. If he values living within his means, the amount of money he spends on a car would reflect that. Then again, his home, the type of vacations he takes, and a wallet that isn't crammed with credit cards would show that side of his character just as well. If he believes that it is important to look tidy and presentable, his car would be clean, but so would his clothes. Every virtue or vice that you could discover from a man's car, could be found out just as easily from the rest of his life.

I have an idea of the ideal man, and an idea of the ideal car. They are not dependent on each other. The ideal man does not need the car, and I could certainly have the ideal car without a man!

Anonymous said...

I'm guilty of watching BBC's Top Gear whenever it's on. The show is not only funny but the cars these guys showcase are just, amazing. I love cars.
As for myself I drive a 1991 Honda CRXsi. I bought this car when I was 21 years old and it was brand new. It is so old, the car doesn't even have cup holders, let alone any airbags. But it's the wisest purchase I have ever made.
I used to joke about how I would hope I could find a guy who drove a car that was at least a bit nicer than my little Honda; I have updated it now to hoping I could just find a man as reliable as my little car. I even named her my "Little Flower"
Unfortunately, my car has yet to meet it's match.
Southern California is next to impossible to exist without a car and some people fuse their entire worth on what they drive. It's really silly.

I really enjoy your blog!
God Bless,

Juventutem London said...

Berenike -

Juventutem London is an equal-opportunities youth thingummy.

The person behind the blog is male and is trying to work out how he can learn to drive on a shoestring budget!


Twobaglife said...

You can tell you live in Europe from this. In the USA, you learn how to drive, or you are one step up from homelessness to women. Learning how to drive in the USA is a basic responsibility of all men and women, and not being able to removes you from consideration from any dating or marriage with one caveat.

That caveat is you live in a major metropolitan area. It's okay not to drive then because simply being able to afford living there substitutes for the financial and basic responsibility of car ownership. I speak this as someone who did not drive at all for many years, and believe me, I wish I had learned earlier.

Also, expensive cars mean (hopefully) financially secure yet liberal men. Liberal in the sense of generous in spending money. The guy with the 12 year old impeccably maintained truck or olds might be more secure and responsible, but I hope you like clipping coupons and Las Vegas holidays.

Cars usually show status for us guys. I think not so much for you because Europeans have better public transit and don't need to commute 30 mins one way.