It’s not like the topic has never come up before, and Mike is certainly not the first automotive writer to use “phallic” and “Jaguar E-Type” in the same sentence. My own nominees would be Bill Thomas’ Cheetah or one of Frank Kurtis’ Indy roadsters. So it’s not like I find the topic offensive. I just find it a bit tiresome along with the cliches about Corvettes and midlife crises, big SUVs compensating for small penises and all the other socially acceptable forms of denigrating men based on what car they may drive. Though I doubt that Mike intended it so, almost implicit in his question is the premise that because of some psychological flaw men design, make, buy and drive cars that look like penises.
The list of penis substitutes is almost endless: sports cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, or anything big, flashy or fast. It seems that unless you are driving the beigeist of beige Camrys, if you’re a man your car indicates some feelings of inadequacy on your part, or more accurately, an inadequacy of your part.
Well, I’ll agree that my car does indicate a feeling of inadequacy – the feeling of not being able to get where I need to go without a car.
Women don’t face such social stigmas if they want to drive a particular car. If a woman buys a convertible Corvette, it’s because she wants the wind in her hair or to show off her good looks. If a man buys a convertible Miata, he must be having a midlife crisis, or is gay. If a man drives an SUV it’s to “compensate”. When a woman (and women make 80% of consumer purchase decisions in the US, including what kind of car to buy) drives an SUV it’s because she likes the high driving position and safety of a big car.
You can ask what car looks like a penis, but can you ask what car looks like a vagina? I know that before I posted it I asked my editors at PJMedia if it was cool to use this headline. Not only did The Truth About Cars founder Bob Farago get fired from a newspaper gig for saying that the Subaru B9 Tribeca’s front end looked like a “flying vagina”, BMW subsequently banned TTAC from their press fleet cars because of “the tone and tenor of the site”. Funny how Ray Wert dry humping cars at auto shows hasn’t kept BMW test cars out of the hands of Jalopnik writers.
And some cars do have elements that perhaps evoke a response deep within the male brain. Besides the Tribeca, the fabric covered BMW GINA concept (no comment) has been cited for its labia-like opening exposing the car’s engine compartment.
It’s not a new thing. Some polite people said that the front end of the Edsel looked like “an Oldsmobile sucking on a lemon”. Others called it a “horse collar”. Less polite folks might have pointed out that “horse collar” is sometimes used as a euphemism for a vagina.
I’ve always thought that the big Pontiacs of the late 1960s and early 1970s had sort of a puffy, pudendal look about their front ends. That protruding beak is split left to right. Some might say that the gaping maw grilles now popular on Audis, Bentleys, and other cars have some vaginal significance.
I’m wondering, though, if men drive “phallic” cars to compensate for a tiny penis, what does driving a vaginal car say about a woman driver? I’m wondering that mostly to show just how silly it is to psychoanalyze people based on the styling of the car they happen to drive.
I suppose that I could search out every car that has some kind of concave styling element and point out its yonic symbolism. Cars do appeal to our senses and they can have shapes that remind us of animals, including the human animal in both of it’s formats. Designers appeal to both our conscious and unconscious minds. Some cars, as Mr. Farago pointed out, do look like vaginas, and the Jaguar E-Type coupe’s cabin and long hood indeed look scrotal and phallic, but to paraphrase Dr. Freud, sometimes a concave styling element is just a concave styling element.