How did a perfectly practical vehicle come to be so threatening to the ego of the street-driving man?

I drive a minivan, without a trace of irony or shame.

Not only do I drive a minivan when chauffeuring my four kids around, I drive one to work each day and on those occasions when I go out in the evening. If I were to attend a NASCAR event or a mixed martial arts championship, I would travel there by minivan. Should someone cross me or my family in such a way that vengeance is demanded, I would hop into my minivan and I would hunt them down.

OK, perhaps that’s taking things too far. No need for violence. What I’m really fighting here is a stereotype.

I’ve realized that many people would have a difficult time seeing brutal and righteous vigilantism coming from someone riding into town upon a Honda Odyssey. These people not only find the minivan totally un-Bronsonlike, but completely emasculating — Cinderella’s carriage with dual sliding doors and seating for seven passengers.

I learned this lesson, as you might have guessed, not in a classroom, but on the streets.

I started out as a weekend van driver when our twins were born in 2001, but made the move full-time when our Buick LeSabre (a grandpa car, or so I was told) had to be replaced three years ago.

I researched several makes and models at the time. I pictured myself behind the wheel of a strapping SUV. I imagined tooling through the neighborhood in a sporty sedan. Ultimately, however, adding a second minivan to our fleet proved to be the most practical solution for our family of six. That meant that our older van would become my everyday “ride.”

I was fine with this arrangement and didn’t give the situation much thought until a coworker informed me that I was getting snickered at in Guyville.

She, a mother of three, was also shopping for a new vehicle. I informed her that good deals could be had on lightly used minivans. She relayed my recommendation to her husband, who reportedly reacted as if it were suggested that in lieu of driving he should sprout sparkly wings and flutter his way about town.

The implication was clear: to get behind the wheel of a minivan is to renounce all claims to vigor and virility. No amount of machismo, it seems, can be achieved while operating what amounts to a single-family bus.

That’s why many men refuse to be seen driving one. Fathers will pass on the sensible minivan in favor of an extended-bed pickup truck more suitable for hauling small livestock than children. They can still lay claim to rugged vitality, even when driving the kids to dance class, if there’s a half-ton payload backing them up.

But just how did a perfectly practical vehicle such as the minivan come to be so threatening to the ego of the street-driving man?

You are what you drive. Advertisers have convinced us that our image is tied irrevocably to our vehicle of choice. And the slice of life in which the minivan figures most prominently is populated by a demographic that is often the subject of much derision: the soccer mom. Presidential candidates may court soccer moms, but Dr Pepper for Men has made it patently clear that it wants no part of their beverage dollar.

So I guess that makes me a soccer dad. My kids all play the sport and by day I chauffeur them to games in an unassuming minivan.

But by night, just be careful not to cross my path. I may spill my Tab.

Dan Naumovich is a freelance journalist and copywriter from Springfield, Ill. He drives a minivan and wants to know if you want to make something of it.