A few months ago I bought a new car – a sporty Subaru Impreza wagon in a dusty blue. Cute, fun to drive, safe — and really great gas mileage.
But before I negotiated a sweet 1.9% APR on my ride and programed NPR on the stereo, I did tons of research, asked lots of questions — and, I’m embarrassed to say — sought out the advice of men.
Buying a car is a big deal, but it’s no rocket science. I’m a smart person. I’ve bought a few cars in my day. But when deciding between a the Mazda, Hyundai and the Impreza, I was stumped. One was a bit cheaper. The other a tiny bit safer. A third a smidge roomier. I felt stuck. I called my eldest brother, Jac, to help me think it through. Not because he’s especially interested in cars or is a grease monkey. Yes, he’s a practical person. Smart. We share similar sensibilities when it comes to personal finance.
He’s also a boy.
Flash-forward a few days when I attended a party with my kids. The adults were enjoying BBQ and beers in the backyard and at one point I was sitting near a group of the dads. True, one I is a car aficionado. The others I don’t know too well. So why did I ask them collectively to help me pick a ride?
I’ll tell you why: I’m a goddamned girl.
This gender-stereotypical nonsense irks me. There are plenty of times in my life when I ask for advice. Most of my closest friends are women. So when it comes to things about business, or relationships or parenting – I’m seeking sage wisdom from women the majority of the time. The other thing: I make my own decisions. If I screw up a major purchase like a car, buy the wrong one or overpay, well, that is my problem.
So what is up with me and the car and the guys?
Maybe I felt insecure about the move. Maybe I secretly wanted someone to make the right choice. Someone to rescue me. And by “someone” I mean a man.
And so, unconsciously, I played the ultimate girl. “Ooooh! Help me buy a car! Little ol’ me doesn’t understand such complicated machines! Ooops! I dropped my handkerchief! Oh, you’re such a big, strong man to come and help me!”
Or maybe, without really thinking about it, I was just being realistic. Here’s the thing: guys really are more interested in cars. They just are. My female friends are all smart, competent people who buy cars. But they don’t care as much. It’s sexist and ridiculous. But it is. It just is, I intuitively know that. On one level, I accept it.
And so I did what I always do when faced with a tough decision. I research the hell out of it. Talk it through with others (in this case, all dudes). Then, before going to sleep one night, I told myself: “When you wake up you’ll know the right decision.”
My new Subaru has been awesome. And it is all mine.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.