I am a proud 27 year old non-driver. Why? I’ve just never been into the vroom-vroom engine sound or found a burning desire to get behind the wheel. Some of you are most probably thinking I’ve never tried it, I have, in fact I spent a $1000 dollars going for the first half of my lessons and never went for the final, meaning if I ever do decide to pick up driving again, I have to ‘cough up the dough’, so to speak.
But with driving being considered the gateway to freedom for most teenagers and adults, one has to wonder, in a tax free city like Dubai where you can catch a taxi or a VIP Uber in less than a minute, how relevant is the ability to drive for the modern man? And how is said ability a reflection on our masculinity?
I remember never being into toy cars or action figures the way most little boys are, I also remember vowing to drive the moment I turned 18, though clearly my views changed as I grew older. Primarily because I like doing things in my own time. But how often do you get the ‘oh you don’t drive’ look from family and friends? in my case way too much! I do think in most relationships there is this unspoken rule that if my man can’t drive, what kind of man is he? Several girlfriends of mine have cancelled potential dates or tapped BLOCK, the instant they discover that a potential partner doesn’t carry that little card. This reinforces a misconstrued notion that men are the ones with the power and simultaneously cracks the fine veneer of modern feminism, why should I drive when my man does? If it is okay for a woman to take that stance, then why not a man? We wouldn’t bat an eyelash if a woman says she doesn’t drive but god forbid a man says the same. Most men themselves are also just as quick to question another man’s success by his inability to drive.
The double standard exists, but I’m sure most of you would argue that most men love cars and love to drive and that my sexual orientation is said-reason for my disinterest. I beg to differ, in fact I love a good Lambo, or a classic Rolls-Royce, but that doesn’t mean I’m clambering to get my license to drive one. And yet I’m constantly being judged for it. You can see people assume you’re entitled or full of it the moment you say you don’t drive, but the reality is owning a car is just as expensive. Petrol, SALIK( Electronic Fee Barriers In Dubai), servicing and tire changes all accumulate to a pretty hefty amount.
So why is it so baffling to fathom that a successful man with a budding career would opt to choose a fine air-conditioned, leather fitted interior of a Lexus or hop onto the tram, as opposed to having to deal with traffic and crazy drivers after a hard day’s work? Because the same majority that believe women shouldn’t work after marriage are the same people that believe all men should know how to fix broken TV’s and overheated engines while vigorously avoiding the kitchen; because that of course is a women’s domain.
In a time when new job titles are being created to accommodate the electronically savvy and luxury cars are just a tap and swipe away, why are men still held to this antiquated ideal of masculinity? The reality is a growing number of men today can’t change light bulbs or intrinsically know what’s wrong with a car and that’s alright because being a man is about so much more than your ability to navigate metal on four wheels, and if you’re surrounded by people that think otherwise all you need to do is shift gears.