“What is better, a car or a wife?”

in Reproduction by Design

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780226560694
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226560717 | DOI:
“What is better, a car or a wife?”

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This chapter describes why probably the most ubiquitous representation of the impact of machine culture was the sexualization of the motorcar on the one hand and the automobilization of humans on the other. The motorcar developed a masculine aphrodisiac in combining speed, risk, and danger. Cars were billed by advertisers as providing men with a reassurance of their virility. Owning and controlling a car should have resulted on to the man's possession and pleasuring of the woman. The car was a key symbol of woman's emancipation. The image of the motorcar could represent male power and female independence, the assurance of upper-class entitlements and the threat of lower-class mobility. It also helped in reconfiguring twentieth-century sexuality. Thus, the motorcar was playing a key a role in reconfiguring sex, gender, and reproduction.

Keywords: motorcar; sexualization; machine culture; automobilization; sexuality; gender; reproduction

Chapter.  9534 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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