Weapon of mass-emasculation?
Friday, February 17, 2006
What is it with guys driving minivans? Nine times out of 10, whenever I see a minivan being driven like an F1 car, it's a male in the driver's seat. I was nearly run off the road by one last night. Granted, I couldn't make out the driver, but based on my experience, I'll bet my expense check that it was a guy. I rarely see minivans driven so aggressively by women. So what causes this automotive aggression?
I can only guess it's a subliminal revolt on part of the husbands for being forced into these ubiquitous symbols of suburbia. Whereas full-size SUVs represent power, status and ruggedness to most males, (or wanton consumption and waste, depending on your political persuasion) minivans are the embodiment of the practical, nurturing role for which they're so well-suited, and what endears them to soccer moms from coast-to-coast. But being associated with these vaguely femenine traits, even slightly, seems to provoke an aggressive rage in the suburban male. This often manifests itself in the form of aggressive driving. I can almost hear it now, "How dare I be forced into this mommy-mobile! My masculinity has been taken from me!"
But stepping back and looking at things from a purely objective standpoint, modern minivans are pretty pimpin' machines, in my humble opinion. The newer models sport around 240 horsepower, right about what the typical midsize SUV musters, plus, lots o' room, and plenty of entertainment system options. Not to mention the fact that the box-like open interiors could allow for some pretty wild custom audio setups. Shoot, the new Mazda5 micro-mini is downright sporty. If they offered that bad boy with a turbo and six-speed, I'd be all over it. Yet the stigma of the minivan is so overpowering that even all these positive attributes fail to lure men out of their trucks and SUVs.
The phenomenon has some interesting parallels to suburban moms and trophy wives and their H2s and Escalades. More often than not, when observing an aggressively-driven full-size SUV, I'm expecting it to be driven by, how should I put this, an urban hip-hop enthusiast type, when it's some bubbly-headed 30-something blonde trophy wife from the 'burbs. Is this payback for all the years when their forebears were subjected to station wagons and the aforementioned minivans?
I'm not so naive to expect all males to come together and start singing Kum-Ba-Ya around the minivan. But maybe it's time we see more of these with mirror-tint windows, ghost flames, 20s and a wall of subwoofers. Hey guys, if we're forced into practical family-man submission, why not have a little fun with it?