Ben Meets the Lady Lowriders of California

In his latest dispatch from America, Free Press correspondent Ben Kawaller asks members of an all-female car club: What do you think of the patriarchy?

A few weeks ago I attended an extralegal assembly of classic-car fanatics hosted by a Southern California–based society called the Lady Lowrider Car Club. The members had overtaken a Pasadena thoroughfare in celebration of International Women’s Month, which is the month we’re currently in, if you’re wondering why you’ve been seeing so many women lately.

I’m far too equivocating to address the question myself, but I wondered what the women bouncing down Colorado Boulevard in tricked-out Oldsmobiles thought of the idea, so often repeated in liberal America, that we live in a patriarchy. 

Most of the women I spoke with did not think much of it, in fact. But I would later realize that my question was a bit facile; its answer depends on what is meant by “patriarchy.” My very smart sister, who is a Woman, pointed out to me that modern American life is still structured around the vestigial—she would say patriarchal—expectation that women won’t work; that’s why there’s no free childcare after 3 p.m., for example. Of course, the actual policy aims of any good liberal seeking to redress such gaps in our social welfare would benefit working men and women alike, despite the destructive-sounding demand of radical leftists that we “topple the patriarchy.”

The women I spoke to were more interested in “positivity” than in calls for revolution (“All Love No Hate!!” reads their Instagram bio). More than one of them, when I asked what America could learn from the Lady Lowriders, mentioned “unity.” And, while suggesting that they hadn’t always felt welcome in this male-dominated cultural space, many of them testified to the growing acceptance they’ve felt from their male counterparts in the lowriding community. “The men are starting to say, ‘Oh, these women can pretty much do what we can do,’ ” one member told me.

Does this count as toppling the patriarchy? I think the better way to aggrandize these women would be to view them as having staked out their territory through self-determination. And what could be more American than that?

Watch the debut episode of Ben Meets America here. And if you believe in good-faith debate and the importance of finding consensus, especially in this election year, support Ben’s cross-country coverage by becoming a Free Press subscriber today:

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