Posts tagged: Cars

The Cost Of The Culture Of Masculinity

By , December 2, 2011 3:31 pm

The U.K. Guardian published a piece by two professors about the human and financial cost of “masculine culture.” On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (which was November 25th) Cynthia Cockburn and Ann Oakley made the case that men – who aren’t held accountable in that day’s name or mandate – are the overwhelming perpetrators of violence.

The fact that men are mainly responsible for violent and health-harming behaviours, not only against women and children but also against each other, is so taken for granted that it slips beneath the radar of commentators and policymakers.

The authors quote numerous statistics to make their point:

In 2009-10, men were perpetrators in 91% of all violent incidents in England and Wales. The figures vary by type of incident: 81% for domestic violence, 86% for assault, 94% for wounding, 96% for mugging, 98% for robbery. [U.K. Ministry of Justice] figures for 2009 show men to be responsible for 98%, 92% and 89% of sexual offences, drug offences and criminal damage respectively. Of child sex offenders, 99% are male. The highest percentages of female offences concern fraud and forgery (30%), and theft and handling stolen goods (21% female).

Men even commit more traffic and speeding violations – 87% and 81% respectively. Men are responsible for the vast majority of dangerous driving offenses (97%) and accidents causing injury or death (94%).

On the financial side, the Cockburn and Oakley project the money saved from injuries of the crimes themselves, lost work and productivity, and the costs of trying and incarcerating criminals would be in the tens of billions of British pounds.

I don’t doubt any of these numbers. I’m sure the statistics trend similarly in the United States. Our prisoners are overwhelming male: over 90%. And I wouldn’t be surprised if prison costs in the U.S. were even more than in the U.K. given our comparatively larger prison population.

Cockburn and Oakley conclude with:

The case we are making is that certain widespread masculine traits and behaviours are dangerous and costly both to individuals and society. They are amenable to purposeful change. The culture of masculinity can be, and should be, addressed as a policy issue.

Ok, but how?

Continue reading 'The Cost Of The Culture Of Masculinity'»

“It’s A Boy” And “Not For Women”

By , October 12, 2011 1:12 am

Ad makers still don’t know how to appeal to men without pushing women away.

Volkswagen is going after men for the new version of the VW Beetle. The company found out the previous incarnation of the car had more female buyers than male ones. So, to make the new Beetle appeal to men, they say the car is “a boy.”

In the commercial for their low-calorie soda, the makers of Dr. Pepper Ten say it only has “ten manly calories” and the tag line is that “It’s not for women.”

Articles about the car and the soda point out that the conventional wisdom is that men won’t buy those products if they think the cars are for women or the drink doesn’t “seem macho enough.”

Maybe, but there must be a way to appeal to men without becoming that little boy who writes “no girls allowed” on his bedroom door. The Beetle ad is trying too hard: “This car isn’t girly,” implies the ad. Dr Pepper Ten tries to be so macho, I wonder if they considered infusing the drink with testosterone, too.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Old Spice Guy doesn’t do this. Commercials for the body wash are technically aimed at women, but they still need a macho stamp of approval for men to use it. And by appealing to both men and women, the Old Spice Guy ads don’t exclude anything feminine to prove how masculine it is.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Jonathan Welsh/Wall Street Journal.

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“Top Gear” And The Male Mind

By , November 22, 2010 8:01 pm

I mentally braced myself last night as I began watching the premiere of the U.S. version of “Top Gear.” Not only is the original UK version is one of my favorite shows on television, but it’s one of the most-watched shows on the planet with an estimated 350 million viewers. So, there’s a high bar for the American version to reach.

“Top Gear” is described as “a car show,” but it’s much more than that. It’s about travel, competition, ingenuity, all wrapped in a lot of wit and humor. There’s a lot of crashing and blowing stuff up, too.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 06: Hosts Tanner Foust, Rutledge Wood and Adam Ferrara speak during the 'Top Gear' panel during the 'Top Gear' panel during the A&E Networks portion of the 2010 Summer TCA pres tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 6, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

What most intrigued me about the new show is when I heard “Top Gear” USA co-host Adam Ferrara say it’s “a glimpse into the male mind.” Sure, this could be a good way to brand “Top Gear” in the U.S. It gets framed as a man’s show. A place where “us guys” can be Men. (Cue the grunting and chest-pounding.) But the show in the UK doesn’t try to be hyper-masculine like some other shows geared toward men in the U.S. (“Ice Road Truckers,” “Deadliest Catch”). Women make up 40% of Top Gear’s audience in Britain. Ferrara’s statement could be a nod toward the often self-deprecating sense of humor found on the show. Perhaps not coincidentally, Andy Wilman, the executive producer of “Top Gear” in the UK told “60 Minutes” something similar about the show: “It’s a journey into the male mind, which, I believe, is a really, potentially, very funny place. ‘Cause, let’s face it, nothing happens there.”

“Top Gear” USA wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it was great either. There needs to be more personality from and better interaction between hosts Ferrara, Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust. They didn’t seem comfortable with each other yet. The interview with Buzz Aldrin in the “Big Star, Small Car” segment was as horrible as that segment’s name. They should also have more fun with The Stig, the show’s racing driver, like they do in the UK, and include more basic info on the cars being profiled (0-60, horsepower, engine size, etc.). The Lamborghini segment at the end, though, captured a lot of what makes Top Gear great: cars, competition, good cinematography, story-telling and camaraderie between the hosts.

As far as insight into what goes on in the male mind, I’m going to give the show time. Top Gear in Britain is more than cars or the personalities of its hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. It’s their knowledge of cars, the world in which they travel and their way of explaining their adventures to the audience in a smart, funny and colorful way. If “Top Gear” USA adds some American-flavored irony and wit to the speed, competition and explosions, they’d have a show worthy of it’s British brother and paint a better picture of what’s going in the American male mind.

Did you see the U.S. version of “Top Gear?” What do you think?

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