On and off for too many years I’ve puzzled over why Volvo’s logo is the universal male symbol and Dan’s “Mraz”-culinity prototype made me think of it once again, in that Jason Mraz, I’d be willing to bet you dollars to donuts (which is about, what 1:1 these days, fyi) based on photos I’ve seen, has surely owned a rusty 1984 240 or two in his day. In the last decade, especially in my former home, San Francisco, the "classic" Volvo has become a signifier of an offshoot of the Mraz sensitive, nerdy, singer songwriter: the geeky-professor hipster artist. That is, a great many artsy types have gone from traditional grungy/punky garbs and coifs to a version of the sixties and seventies scruff-preppy prof in khakis, cords, elbow-patched blazers, oxfords, beards, and chunky glasses (This trend may have something to do with what’s most readily available at Salvation Army these days, but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of thrift.). If these anti-hipster hipsters don’t drive old (1975-84 or so) Volvos, the anti-Porsche, it’s because they don’t drive.
As someone who’s owned not one, not two but three decrepit Volvae (pre-the-current-fad, I might add, whether it’s true or not), I’ve always wondered how said carmaker, with an oddly female anatomical company name, ended up using the international symbol for maleness.
So after I saw that Dan beat me to the punch by, as the kids say, “googling” our blog name, I googled both the male symbol and the Volvo one to make sure they were indeed, purdy darn identical, the arrow pointing in the same direction (erectly north-east) et al, and they are. But I could find nary a mention of the odd coincidence. I did find out at the “History of Car Logos” site that:
Volvo means ‘I Roll’ in Latin, and the arrowed Circle is merely the conventional map sign for steel. The circle and arrow represent the shield and spear of Mars, which are also an alchemical symbol for iron.
Rest assured dear reader, that, especially given the cryptic and willfully ignorant “merely . . . ” in the above definition, I will not rest until the Volvo-vulva-mansymbol conspiracy is unsheathed.