Let me put the MRAs out there at rest by saying straight off that the answer is most definitely the latter. The modern car is the product of over a century of work by almost exclusively male designers and engineers. Is it any surprise that the car was, in fact, subtly designed to promote rape culture?
It is clear to me that the car was intended to be a metaphorical woman. The misogynistic creators of the automobile expected them to be purchased as demure, subservient members of the family. They designed cars to have the same traits they believed an ideal woman should have: loyalty, an undemanding nature and an unfaltering willingness to serve. The chauvinists didn’t stop there though and the truly disturbing part is the way they utilised the car-as-wife metaphor to promote and normalise rape.
It all starts with the method of refuelling. Petrol pumps are self-evidently phallic objects. I don’t feel like I should have to explain this part so just fucking look at one, okay? You should keep your distance unless you know what you’re doing. Don’t blame me if you end up with petrol in your eye.
The woman (or “car”) has been designed to receive the phallus (or “petrol pump”) in such a manner as to simulate sexual intercourse. The problem is that this intercourse is entirely non-consensual. When was the last time you saw someone ask for their car’s permission before unceremoniously penetrating it? Exactly. You’ve probably never seen that happen and neither have I. All of which just goes to show how bad things have become.
The act of refuelling your car normalises rape. The act of driving it reinforces gender roles. If you’re not already convinced that the metaphor is intentional, allow me to show you a transcript I obtained of a meeting that took place a long time ago between two directors of an unnamed multinational car manufacturer. I’ll use only the first initial of each man (T and A) to protect their privacy (read: I don’t want to die in my sleep).
T: Imagine a place where polygamy is legal.
T: No. America! Every family will have two wives: the one with no brain and the car. Each will be subservient to the husband in all matters.
A: Can we find a way to get rape in there somehow?
T: Sure. Refuelling. Look at the phallic shape of our fuel pumps. Every time a man puts the pump into his car, he is performing an act of metaphorical rape! In public!
A: Won’t the women be upset that we have created this thing that will be referred to in the future as rape culture?
T: The testing confirmed our original suspicions. The women never needed to refuel our test cars because they wrecked them almost immediately. We saved a fortune on crash test dummies!
A: What happened? Did they drive the cars up the wall with their nagging?
T: The best part of our plan is that men everywhere will be paying good money to perform this public act of rape. We’re treating women like property! We’re saying “come here and do this sexual assault and then pay for it!” You don’t even pay the woman, you pay the pimp — ahem, pump.
A: Hey, T, how is a woman like a car?
T: She stays quiet and does everything you ask of her?
A: No, I’m telling a joke. The answer is that you have to service her occasionally to ensure she doesn’t stop working.
T: I’m now going to go out and promote this thing that will be referred to in the future as rape culture.
A: Bye, T. I will stay here and oppress female employees.
T: For the patriarchy!
A: The patriarchy!
Pretty damning evidence, I’m sure you’ll agree.