Cars these days — you barely have to drive ‘em! Even the least-advanced vehicles offer features that have revolutionized the skills necessary to properly operate them, like parallel-parking assistance and rear-view cameras. With these tools, the art of backing up or wedging your vehicle against a sidewalk is becoming lost in time, and every day, they push us closer to the obsoletion of the human driver. Still, there’s one analog car feature we can’t forget: that little arm-behind-the-passenger-seat-headrest thing guys do when they’ve thrown things into reverse.
On July 4th, @meemelif tweeted that the “sluttiest thing a man can do is look back and keep one hand on the passenger seat headrest while reversing.” I disagree with labeling this as slutty — to me, male sluttiness is defined by doing something purely for aesthetics in an attempt to look attractive. The car seat headrest move is different, there’s usually some utility to it, which makes it hot rather than sluty.
Why is it hot? For starters, there’s an inherent paternal protectiveness to it. Putting one’s arm on the back of the headrest does partially allow a guy to turn around, enhancing his visibility, but it also feels as though that arm is there to protect the passenger. At the very least, it’s a display of the effort he’s putting in to make sure he’s giving that reversal everything he’s got. This isn’t to say that we should be swooning at the idea of a man not crashing his car — the bar isn’t that low — but it’s a small display of effort akin to holding the door open for someone. It doesn’t mean a ton, though you’d be disappointed if you expected someone to do it and they didn’t.
We can also interpret our attraction to it literally: Guys straight-up look good doing it (anyone does, really). It requires opening up one’s chest, turning the head and neck to reveal the jawline and exposing the intricate details of the throat and underarm. While I don’t find myself sexually attracted to armpits, there’s undeniably something admirable about the region if you’re a fan of men’s more masculine details. Maybe it’s just all the pheromones! At minimum, the act of turning around to reverse allows the passenger to see the driver in a fresh position, one where the driver is intently focused on the task at hand but still has the cool familiarity of something he’s done countless times before.
And you know what? Perhaps we should just let ourselves be impressed by a guy properly operating a motor vehicle. Driving is terrifying, as much as we’ve tricked ourselves into thinking it’s a perfectly mundane activity. Particularly now, as many of those details are automated by a variety of technological advancements and safety features, the human component of driving is all the more striking. By that measure alone, the reversing move is hot. It’s like watching a guy chop wood with an axe or push a standing lawnmower.
There’s new machinery that makes these tasks easier, but the old way just looks better. As much as things change, putting your arm on the headrest to back up will remain eternally sexy.