No, this is not a screed against them danged ole feminazis insisting on driving and pining for the days when women couldn’t drive or vote (although now that you mention it….).
Rather this is one of those things, the little shifts in our culture, that I notice and that are symptomatic of bigger issues and questions.
We can see the big, obvious stuff like transvestites reading to children and Democrats answering debates question in an American election speaking in Spanish. It is the little shifts that seem more profound and signal the bigger changes.
The other night I was leaving a restaurant with some carry-out and at the same time an older (at least 70s) couple was also leaving. It was a pretty cold night and it was snowing fairly hard. The older woman stopped at the door and her husband went out, started the car and cleaned it off and picked her up right outside of the door. We used to call this being a gentleman and it was common behavior expected of men. It reminded me of something subtle but important that has changed in American society.
Growing up and even as a young adult, it was common that in general when men and women traveled in cars together, the man drove. Part of it certainly is a control thing. I can’t stand it when my wife drives so unless I am incapacitated by illness or exhaustion, I drive. But it also is a bit of chivalry. My mom never drove with my dad in the car, so she could read or knit or do a crossword puzzle to pass the time. Of course some of it also has to do with young families and the need for someone to contort themselves to deal with kids in the back seat but that also requires you to recognize that generally women are far better at dealing with children than men. When we are on long trips my wife can snooze or read or mess with her phone while I drive the car.
When I see young men and women in cars today, the woman is often the one driving while her boyfriend or partner is slouched in the passenger seat gawking at his phone. Maybe the guys are unemployed or don’t have car insurance but I am guessing it is just laziness. Even worse is when guys sit in the car looking at their phone while their woman is outside pumping gas.
In older generations, it was fairly common for women to very rarely drive or to not even drive at all. The wife of the man I am named after never drove, not once, in all the decades I knew them. She technically had a license but never drove. He would drive her to church on Sunday mornings so she could “go churching”, come to our place to hang out and then pick her up after church let out.
Perhaps there was a lingering reason for this that extends back to the horse and buggy days. Driving a car, especially now that almost all cars have automatic transmissions, requires almost no exertion. Driving a horse drawn buggy or cart? That is far more difficult. When the Amish sell horses, it is considered a selling point if a horse is a “ladies or boys” horse, a horse that can be controlled by someone with less physical strength. Some of the bigger and hotter running horses are a real chore even for a strong young man to control.
Whatever the reason, it seems that at the very least women are driving with men as passengers at least as often as the converse, and this is especially true with younger couples. I even regularly see more manly man looking guys in the passenger seat, although that might be because he was drinking or something.
Driving isn’t generally a pleasure unless you own a European sports car, it is mostly a chore. I need to go from A to B and the fastest way to get there is by driving. The driver is strapped into a seat, has to stay fairly stationary within a narrow range of positions so they can reach the brakes and gas, the steering wheel and see out of the windows. You have to pretty much always be looking ahead while rapidly and repeatedly checking the mirrors. Driving is a lot like washing the dishes, something you have to do but would rather not.
Passing the burden of driving onto women is not “empowering” them, it is just another example of men passing the buck. Sure it is a small thing but widespread cultural rot stems from a lot of little things all undermining the foundation of a society until the whole thing collapses. Ready access to birth control and abortion decreases family size and decouples sex from marriage. More and more women are shamed into entering the workforce, causing downward pressure on wages and of course accelerating the shrinking family size. Divorce becomes easier and suddenly getting married becomes a gamble where your odds of your wife divorcing you, taking half of your stuff and all of your children makes marriage far less palatable and again, leads to shrinking family size. Men becoming more passive and disengaged from life, like making their women drive while they lounge in the passenger seat, is just another small expression of a larger degradation.
None of this happens in a vacuum and none of it has or is happening by chance.
Meanwhile in American “conservatism” where we thought the values we cherished were being defended, we get celebrations of the degradation of our culture. From the think-tanks that inform Republican policies comes this glorious news that women now make up the majority of the American workforce but dang it there is still so much work to be done getting women out of their homes and away from their kids! “Conservative” American Enterprise Institute published this in January.
From the article:
Our goal as a society is not to dictate how households balance work and family. Simply that every worker should be able to make the best choices to maximize opportunity for themselves and their families. While the gains made thus far are impressive, a lot more can be achieved through policy. In particular, policies like paid family leave and affordable childcare can enable women to truly have a choice when it comes to balancing work and caregiving needs at home. Vocational training and paid apprenticeships can help women (and men) advance their skills and remain attached to the workforce. Finally, supportive policies that enable women to close educational gaps in STEM fields can go a long way towards opening opportunities as well.
A “free enterprise” think-tank that has a resident scholar, one Aparna Mathur, who is demanding more and more government programs to get as many women into the workforce, preferably in full-time jobs, as possible. Apparently “free enterprise” means “government programs to subsidize cheap labor”.
Conservative Inc. and the mainstream GOP are servants of two things: the GDP and Israel. Nothing much matters other than stock prices, quarterly profits, workplace participation figures and the security of Israel. Stuff that matters to Republican voters gets lip-service, if that, and nothing else. The foundation of a healthy society is the family and the Republicans have been just about as bad as the Democrats when it comes to trying to wreck the American family. If “conservatives” aren’t conserving the family unit, what the hell use are they?
We are in such a weird state of affairs. On the one hand, it is still considered a more heinous crime when the victims of a crime are women or children but on the other hand we are supposed to let screechy women and autistic teens dictate the terms of our government. The powers that be dictate to us that we have to pretend that someone with male genitals is really a woman and as authentically female as an actual woman with female genitalia. The entertainment world constantly promotes the idea that 110 pound women can thrash 250 pound men but then we act outraged when a man smacks around a woman. We cheer when Black Widow beats up men in movies but if a male superhero beat up a bunch of women in a film, it wouldn’t get cheered, it would get blacklisted. Academics screech that we need to bend over backwards to improve “educational opportunities” for women when women make up the majority of college students. It is an upside-down. bizarre world and the whole thing is coming unraveled fast.
Guys, unless you are drunk or otherwise incapacitated, you should take the wheel and let your lady relax.