Sunday, January 29, 2012

Qatar Motor Show 2012

This weekend I attended the Annual Motor Show with one of my female friends. Although my friend was taking her brothers and their friends along, the two of us wanted to go see the ‘cool’ collection of cars too. Upon entering the Exhibition Center, which is where the cars were being displayed, my friend and I came to the sudden realization that we were the only two female companions amidst a sea of male bachelors, families and couples.

This observation shed light on the fact that the event is mainly catered for men. It’s not surprising, especially seeing how in our society we tend to associate cars with men rather than women. Even as toddlers, boys are socialized to play with toy cars. It’s a social construct that classifies males as masculine.

At the event a couple of things provided proof that the cars were directed at a male audience. There were women hired to model for the cars. Many of the men at the event asked the models if they could have their picture taken together. If the cars were aimed at women, surely there would have been male models promoting them.

Last year, one of my friends had modeled for Bugatti. She told me that prior to working the job, she was given information about the car itself. So if she was asked about the specifics of the car, she would be able to give the information. But the people who handled the selling of the cars were men, highlighting that women do the marketing while men manage the deal making.

Although the event was for men, it specifically targeted Qatari nationals. The reason for this is obvious: affordability. The majority of men at the Motor Show were expats, so the most they would do is pose for a picture in front of a Ferrari or Lamborghini. But Qatari men were actually buying the cars.

The overall experience was quite memorable. But being a knowledgeable and experienced sociologist I was more aware of the fact that the event was highly gendered. Apart from walking away with more knowledge on gender and society, my friend and I were asked if we wanted to test-drive a BMW, and happily, my friend agreed.

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