The concept of toxic masculinity is used in academic and media discussions of masculinity to refer to certain cultural norms that are associated with harm to society and men themselves. Traditional stereotypes of men as socially dominant, along with related traits such as misogyny and homophobia, can be considered “toxic” due in part to their promotion of violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence. The socialization of boys in patriarchal societies often normalizes violence, such as in the saying “boys will be boys” about bullying and aggression.
Let me first state that I do not believe all the hype about “Toxic Masculinity“. Yes, it does exist, but not in the way that society is claiming it does. I decided to write this post after I read an article that stated “Toxic masculinity, it’s the number one problem facing the auto industry these days”. What the hell, oh this has to be good. The article on Yahoo news, stated that Bloomberg recently published an article, titled “Traffic Crashes Are Getting Worse. Car Ads Are Part Of the Problem.”
Let’s see if we can follow this trainwreck of journalism on this one. Here is what Bloomberg published:
A few months ago, Dodge posted a tweet: “Fill in the blank. More horsepower means more _____.”
The U.S. Twitterverse immediately responded with the reality of living in a country where traffic crashes kill nearly 40,000 and injure over four million people every year:
“More horsepower means more dead kids.”
“More horsepower means more dead pedestrians.”
“More horsepower means more dead cyclists.”
Dodge removed the tweet. But bragging about horsepower was not a one-off error of judgment. Rather, marketing speed, power, and reckless driving as a selling point for cars is part of a longstanding advertising tradition for automakers who, in 2018, spent more than $35 billion on advertising.
Bloomberg goes on to state:
Researchers have found that around half of U.S. car ads feature dangerous driving behavior. On the Dodge website and social media channels, examples of this are readily apparent. Messaging invites drivers to “conquer the streets of America” with an “aggressive” and “intimidating” fleet. Purchase a Dodge and enter the “brotherhood of muscle.” The company sells cars named “Charger,” “Demon” and “Ram.”
But it’s not just Dodge. Consumers can choose, among others, to acquire a “Ford Tough” truck, to purchase a BMW with a “design that dominates” or to buy a Nissan because “you deserve a car that thrills you.”
Bloomberg goes on to state “While speed and reckless driving sells, it also kills.”
This is a far-reach to claim this as toxic masculinity. So, Dodge got trolled on a tweet and that somehow morphed into toxic masculinity. In 2020, the revenue of United States motor vehicle and parts dealers was $1.249 trillion. (Source) I’m sure an ad for a truck, going off-road (which is considered “dangerous driving behavior“, sells more trucks than that same truck stuck in the middle of a traffic jam or driving at 35mph, pulling up to a stop light.
The article mentions brand names like “Charger” (which Dodge has used since 1966) and “Ram” (which Dodge has used since 1980). Hell, they have been using “Demon” since 1971 branding the Dodge Dart Demon). “Brotherhood of Muscle” is also considered bad, even though the car industry has been using “muscle car” branding since the 1960′ as well, none of this is new. Ford Motor Company has been using “Built Ford Tough” since 1979.
I just don’t see the correlation between, “Ford Tough” to car accidents or “dangerous driving behavior”. Based on the thought pattern of this Bloomberg article, I drive a Dodge Dakota, so I must be anti-native American; my wife drives a Ford Edge, so she must be driving on the “edge” of safety.
Bloomberg also states “A 2010 study found that after viewing car ads that promoted high-speed driving and rapid acceleration, people were more likely to think those driving behaviors were a good idea.”. Strange that they didn’t cite that study.
Sadly the same day as I drafted this blog post, Dodge announced that it will stop manufacturing its extremely popular Charger and Challenger, in favor of EV cars. (Source) I’m not going to go down the fossil fuel vs EV in this post, I’ll save that for another post. It is just sad to see popular vehicles disappearing due to outside pressures. Ford did the same thing to the Mustang, effectively killing off the long-running sports car.
Sure enough, Dodge already released their plans for the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT electric performance coupe.
At least they are keeping it as a coupe, unlike the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which is a four-door hatchback, and it looks nothing like a Mustang, besides the slight hint in the tail lights. Ford is actually billing it as an SUV, not a sports car.
I’m not knocking EVs, but I don’t understand why they are killing off big names and vehicles that sell well and throwing an EV in the mix. I know that the EV has a ton of horsepower, but they will be missing the exhaust noise and the smell of raw power. Dodge is promising an “exhaust” system meant to make the Daytona SRT just as loud as a Hellcat.
I will talk some more about Toxic Masculinity in my next post.