I normally dismiss stereotypes almost immediately because human beings are too wonderfully complex to be lumped into overly-simplistic groups. But it turns out one specific stereotype is true, according to a study in the Journal of International Psychology.
Are you ready?
Men who drive luxury cars are absolute fucking monsters. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Helsinki and they do not mince words: “Self-centred men who are argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic are much more likely to own a high-status car such as an Audi, BMW or Mercedes.”
Jan-Erik Lönnqvist, professor of social psychology, was inspired to explore the connection between pricey rides and sociopathic dudes because a previous study found that the drivers most likely to speed, run red lights, and break traffic laws were men behind the wheel of fancy cars. What was that about?
Lönnqvist decided to investigate because he is a scientist. He could have called me and I would have told him I once worked for a guy who talked about his “beemer” all the time. I mean, anyone who calls their BMW a “beemer” is obviously an animal.
His study involved 1,892 Finnish car owners who were asked questions about their automobile, shopping habits, and wealth. The study‘s findings were “unambiguous.” Assholes are drawn to cars that show off their wealth.
Lönnqvist did not find that women were drawn to expensive cars for the same reasons as men. He offers no answer to why this is so but there is one possibility: cars mean different things to women.
So at least one stereotype is 100% true: if a guy in a Mercedes cuts you off in traffic you can conclude that he is probably a terrible person.
Modern masculinity sometimes feels like a short checklist of pre-approved likes and dislikes. As a man, I’m supposed to like bacon but dislike scented candles. I’m a man, therefore, I like football. Furthermore, as a man, I dislike musical theatre.
I don’t know who determines what is manly and what is unmanly. Maybe the patriarchy is just an ancient man who sits in a crypt and makes declarations about gender norms: men take showers, not baths! I imagine he looks like the Knight at the end of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade who guards the Holy Grail. All I know is these ideas are old and tired, like the Grail Knight.
I can be an asshole, that’s for sure. I go to therapy for a reason. But I do not like cars, used or brand-new, bargain or budget-buster. I do not like driving them or owning them.
This is an unmanly opinion but I think I’m just ahead of the curve. Once robots drive us everywhere, future generations will look back at our culture’s love of piloting crushable metal death boxes to and fro, very fast, with horror and fascination. I also predict that autonomous vehicles will become more utilitarian. They will cease to be the status-symbols they are now. Fifty years from now idiots will show off their status with expensive cyborg implants.
I know American men love cars. Once upon a time, the automobile was cutting edge technology and we rebuilt the whole world to make room for them. I can’t think of a more American image than a man driving down the open road. That’s what freedom looks like, I guess. Every car commercial tells this story: buy a car and drive to happiness.
I only like cars in movies. I am a huge fan of car chases, like The French Connection or Ronin. Many years ago I had trouble deciding if I wanted to move to L.A. from New York City and the neon-coloured Ryan Gosling thriller Drive convinced me I should. In that movie, cars are sexy. They slice through the night like sideways lightning bolts. I loved Drive. You should stream it on Netflix if you haven’t seen it. I’m a little afraid to rewatch it because I remember it so vividly. It made driving in L.A. look cool and driving in L.A. is a daily fury road that is both boring and terrifying at the same time.
Anyway, most men like cars. It’s at the top of the male identity checklist. And the worst of us, apparently, love luxury cars. I have to admit I find it slightly disappointing that this is an actual scientific fact. I silently hope that all gender norms are just, like, advertising campaigns gone horribly wrong. You know, we’re hypnotized but on some level “acting like a man” is still a choice.
But it’s clear from this recent Finnish study that some men are so insecure they have no choice but to spend money on a car that they think shouts “I’m special!” That’s too pathetic for me to even ponder. Imagine having a hole inside you so large you can drive an Audi through it.
I like walking. If I could make going on nice strolls in the park super macho I would. That would be a tremendous legacy.
“Dude, you wanna fuckin’ walk hard to the fuckin’ carousel?”
*John DeVore is Editor-in-chief of Humungus