Should sexual adjectives be avoided for cars?

Are some cars more “gay” than others?  Well not if they are labelled as such by Jeremy Clarkson who has been criticised by Ofcom (no release on website) for using the term in a derogatory fashion in relation to the

Cars are often described in terms of being ““, ““, even ““.  In many ways this is ridiculous – but other adjectives such as sleek, stylish, elegant, tough, rugged, also imply human characteristics, making sexual associations in a positive manner. 

Here “gay” was used as a negative term, although the site (whose editor Rich Tuckwell is fortunately okay after a nasty crash on Saturday) seeks to support “UK gay-friendly manufacturers, insurers and dealerships” – ie those who “offer domestic-partner benefits to their LGBT employees” and are “openly gay-friendly to their customers.”

Some car manufacturers have deliberately courted the ““.  Ford has a grassroots network of gay, lesbian or bisexual employees () and sponsored the in 2000/2001, primarily promoting its Ka model.

However, the American Family Association slates Ford for such activities with its website.  The car company is named as the top “pro-homosexual sponsor” on prime time US television.  Overtly supporting one group of consumers clearly has the potential to offend another.

So is it time to avoid the sexual adjectives and linking of cars to particular gender-segments of the car buying market?   Somehow I don’t think so.  

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

3 thoughts on “Should sexual adjectives be avoided for cars?”

  1. He could if he wanted – actually pink has been quite popular lately with the pink wedding taxi (http://www.easier.com/view/Lifestyle/Relationships/Features/article-113148.html) – and Salford City Council has a fleet of 6 pink (well they call them magenta) Ford pick-ups: http://www.autoblog.com/2007/04/26/ford-ranger-wears-pink-for-uk-city/.

    And if you don’t want pc vehicle sales, Grays Truck & Van is for you – see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/13/pink_van_man/ for the way to sell vehicles to macho men.

  2. As a gay man…I think the people are too quick to jump to the defence of ‘minorities’ in general. Yes the word ‘gay’ can be offensive if said with that intention, but describing a car as gay is no different in my opinion to saying it’s a girly car or a boy racers car. PC police need to relax.

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