ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Dangerous Gender Performances: 'Hydraulic Masculinity' as a Norm for Young Male Drivers

Redshaw, Sarah (Peer reviewed)

Young Drivers


The paper discusses data from focus groups carried out as part of the Transforming Drivers project in partnership with NRMA Motoring and Services, focusing on the significance of gender in shaping young people's relationships to cars. Little analysis from a socio-cultural framework has been applied to the specific practices and experiences afforded by cars as they exist within a broader driving culture, especially for younger people. It is important therefore to link larger social categories such as gender with the ways in which gender is expressed through cars. Analysis of focus group discussions showed distinct differences in the ways in which young men and women 'perform' in cars and how cars are a significant aspect of their evolving identities. Employing the idea of 'hydraulic masculinities' from the work of Linley Walker, the paper will outline the concept, relating it to the focus group data and indicating the involvement of danger in this form of masculinity as it is expressed through cars. The importance of age and gender as a social norm significantly shaping young men's relationship to cars is emphasised. Suggestions are made in conclusion, as to how gender performance might be appropriately addressed in road safety.