The feminine and masculine cities

How many town planners have considered whether gender differences actually influence the daily traffic of the urban society? Our own Automologist, LILY, has.

I’ve never thought of the question above until I came across a book titled Gendered Mobilities. In 1980, a group of Norwegian feminist transport researchers and planners published a book indicating two future urban developments – a ‘masculine city’ and a ‘feminine city’. I thought that it was cool to imagine how women drive like men in the masculine city and vice versa! But that is not really the case.

The masculine city looks at the areas in which the mobility pattern of men are increasingly being adopted by women; in the feminine model, men are encouraged and coerced into adopting the traditional travelling pattern of women. The feminine model has shorter and more frequent travelling trips (especially on foot), and higher utilisation of the bicycle and public transport. This model will cause city densification as residents will try to work, stay, shop or do every other activity as close to their residences as possible. The study revealed that women who stayed in the inner city of Copenhagen had more equal opportunities, while the suburban women had fewer job and leisure opportunities compared to men because of their travelling habits.

Honestly, I find the above quite true and interesting. Nowadays, there are many feminist campaigns, equal gender exercises, more women in top management and many successful business owners who are of the gentler sex. However, let’s examine the relationship between car and women versus car and men. Generally, men have a more ‘romantic’ relationship with their cars while most women have cars because they just need a car.

Have you heard that: “men keep their cars spotless but live like pigs at home” while “women keep their homes neat and tidy, but have shoes, accessories, make-up and scarves strewn inside the car, all covered with a light dusting of face powder”? Prof. Somin Baron-Cohen, in his book The Essential Differences: Male and Female Brains and the Truth About Autism, said that men are better wired for systems and women for empathy. That explains why men are generally better drivers than women, and women prefer to be driven around rather than handle the stress of driving, especially for long distances. This also explains why I wrote that women “adopt” men’s mobility pattern while men have to be “encouraged and coerced” into the female travelling pattern.

However, research has also indicated that women have the higher power of influence on the car-buying decision. Could that be due to the ability of women to assimilate copious amounts of information, process it and articulate the reasons for her choice? Prof. Helen Fisher, Biological Anthropologist from Retgers University, actually said that: “The two hemispheres are less well-connected in men than women”; therefore men are more focused and goal-oriented but women are better at assimilating information and feelings.

I think the following answer is more accurate as to why men listen to women when choosing a car:

Therefore, a man can utilise his manly authority to “Just Do It” when it comes to buying, say, sports equipment, but when it comes to buying a car, his motto is “Just Follow Her”.

Disclaimer: “The columnist is not responsible for any quarrels between couples because of the above quote”.

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