It’s been about 40 years since two books were published about masculinity and femininity.
One was “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche.” The other was “Real Women Don’t Pump Gas.”
Both were written tongue-in-cheek, but it was easy to figure out the featured gender stereotypes of the day. As we said, that was four decades ago, but pumping your own gas is again an issue in New Jersey.
Actually, it has always been an issue – at least under the radar.
As just about everyone knows, New Jersey is the only state that bans self-service gas stations.
Some think that’s ridiculous.
Others think it’s just grand.
With gas prices rising to above $4 per gallon, legislation has been introduced in Trenton to allow self-service gas stations.
Supporters say this would help reduce station overhead, because owners would no longer need to hire all that many attendants. Of course, that in itself, probably would not make gas that much cheaper.
Asked about the idea a week or so ago, Phil Murphy called it the “third rail” of state politics.
That was before a Rutgers-Eagleton poll said that most people in New Jersey like things the way they are.
The poll found that 73 percent of respondents like having gas pumped for them; only 22 percent felt differently. That suggests that both “real women” and “real men” don’t want to be bothered fumbling around with a gas pump.
After all, it is so much easier to tell the attendant what you want and stay put.
There were some subtle differences in the responses. More Democrats (82 percent) than Republicans (64 percent) oppose pumping their own gas.
One can attribute that to the self-reliant manta of Republican philosophy, but still, if 82 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans agree on something, lawmakers should take note.
Some supporters of self-service gas may say that the poll should have told people that the status quo costs them money.
But really how much?
And gas prices are unlikely to stay high forever.
Already, the price of a barrel of oil has dropped below $100. It had been $121 a barrel earlier this month.
Then again, this appears to be one of those issues that is driven by emotion more than logic.
One doesn’t doubt that average New Jerseyans know gas prices are high. They also know that the guy, or gal, pumping their gas probably gets paid a minimum wage that will rise annually through 2024.
But there’s something more important for the governor and legislators to keep in mind.
Most drivers in New Jersey see pumping their own gas as a pain in the butt.
They don’t want to do it.