Gender Roles in Car Racing

Wakefield, Wanda E. “NASCAR: Sex, Death, And The Movies.” Ed. Linda K. Fuller. Sexual Sports Rhetoric: Global and Universal Contexts. New York: Peter Lang, 2010. 249-260. Print.

In this source, the author explores the projection of men in the sport of NASCAR, both in reality and in cinema. In the 1950’s, drivers were projected as “Southern Good Ol’ Boys”, womanizers that were the same kind of people that were moonshiners before the time period. Many people looked up to these drivers as they represented the distinct southern culture at the time. After the death of a driver in the 1990’s due to AIDS, this womanizer image began to change to reinforce a different part of Southern culture. Drivers started to become more family-friendly, with stable marriages, lots of children, and cleaner language on screen. However, there was still plenty of fights on the track, as they still held dear their roots and older image. After the crash death of Dave Earnheart in 2001, the sport started to add more safety features, changing the wild nature of the sport.

As racing is the popular culture projection of driving, many of the same gendered aspects apply to both fields. Although it does create its own culture, driving culture represents more of the culture that supports it rather than create its own. As the people that are involved with driving are everymen or other normal people, muscle car culture is supported by normal people, which makes driving more of a product of its time.

While the source added some interesting insight to gender roles and driving, I am still interested in how muscle cars were sold to women, or how they were involved in the culture. Although there is the macho man persona that is prevalent in racing and driving, there is still the impact of muscle cars had on women that could be explored more.


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