"I blame feminism and Facebook for the death of the American automobile." So said NPR's PJ O'Rourke on NPR's Morning Edition earlier today. According to O'Rourke, feminists are to blame for the auto industry's decline because at some point in the 70s we stopped putting out in the backseats of cars and starting going to work instead. WTF, PJ?
Now, before you get your unisex underwear in a twist, I realize that PJ O'Rourke is a humorist (I do listen to Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! after all). His next sentence was "I'm a Republican, so I blame everything on feminism — or commies." So yeah, he's kidding -- somewhat. But he's still getting laughs at feminism's expense, and I personally don't think that he is 100% joking here. Let's discuss it further, shall we?
O'Rourke's main point seems to be this:
Anyway, feminism and Facebook killed the car. The whole point of cars — why boys had to have them — was girls. A boy took a girl for a ride in a car. Then they parked somewhere with a view — of submarine races, for instance. Or they ran out of gas. Or something, and ... gender identity! Leading to patriarchal social constructs, and — with luck — some smooching.
So I guess now that we can communicate online (Facebook) and we are less rigid when it comes to gender identity (feminism) there is no reason for boys to buy cars in order to impress girls anymore. But what about needing cars to drive around? What about women buying cars? What about those sexy Kate Walsh Cadillac commercials?
Feminism didn't end the smooching ["yeah smooching!" -Kelsey]. But it did end a lot of marriages. Dad came home from the phallocentric office or factory, and Mom threw a Bella Abzug at him. Feminism also ended job discrimination against women. A woman could get hired as an able-bodied seaman, a man about town — even a strongman in the circus.
Call me crazy, but I don't think that ending job discrimination against women (an area where we've still got a ways to go if you ask me) is a bad thing. And I don't necessarily think O'Rourke thinks it's a bad thing, either. But does he make a valid point? Has feminism ruined backseat sex?
His main point, ultimately, is that young people (boys especially, obviously) don't care that much about cars anymore. In that, I think he might be right. After all, my headlight fell off on the way home from California last weekend and I couldn't have cared less. But is it really feminism's fault? Is it Facebook's? Or have we simply, as a culture, gotten over the initial excitement of the American automobile? What do you think?