Saturday Food for Thought: Clubs and Cliques

 

If you’ve ever been a member of a club, then you’ve likely noticed that by proxy of being a member, non-members were more often than not looked upon with disdain and excluded from the community or fundraising activities your club took part in. But what happens when clubs themselves are discriminatory against their own members? What happens when Jeep clubs have cliques and can a club with cliques truly be a cohesive unit?

I tried to ask myself, “Why are Jeep clubs so important to me?” And the answer turns out to be that it’s about a lot more than just the Jeeps.

The Jeep lifestyle is one that has been perpetuated throughout a few generations of die-hard off-road aficionados – primarily of the male gender. Despite the fact that women built the first Jeeps manufactured during WWII, women are often considered incapable of operating Jeeps to the decidedly male standard.

Much like women in the military, lady Jeepers seem to carry very little weight with their male counterparts in Jeep forums and clubs, often finding themselves being talked down to or man-splained to, regardless of their mechanical knowledge or off-road prowess. That’s why so many new websites and closed groups have been created that cater specifically to lady Jeepers all over the country.

Although these groups are being formed on the founding premise that we ladies should be supporting and lifting one another up, there’s an unfortunate trend throughout many of them that rings true of many a high school hallway: cliques.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that not everybody is going to like everybody else, and I don’t expect that. What I do have an expectation of, however, is that adults will act like, well, adults.

You’ve all heard that one rule from your parent or guardian, “If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all.” But there are some club members who take the “don’t say anything at all” part a bit too literally. Meaning, they purposefully ignore, take advantage of, use, or belittle members of their own clubs.

Jeeps and the Jeep life are quite similar to other subcultures of society – in that they are formed by people who share common interests or goals and come together to work together while enjoying their commonalities. In pre-historic times, this is how early (wo)man survived. The premise is simple: there is strength in numbers and a collective knowledge benefits all.

Fast forward to today, where social media dominates our daily lives. In a narcissistic society striving toward the next selfie or a post going “viral,” the clubs we form are becoming more divided than ever, motivating us to compete against our sisters for the most likes or shares or worse yet, number of club members.

While many people seek the “community” aspects of a community within churches or volunteer organizations, Jeep clubs provide a sort of neutral ground where religious or political views are checked at the door. Instead, our Jeeps and the freedom they afford us are what unites our community.

I say all of that to pose a simple question: Why is it that some of us JeepHers have morphed into mean girls?

Without getting up on a feminist soapbox, I’ll point out that we women have collectively been repressed for centuries. Why in the world would we cast off those shackles, just to replace them with our own catty set?

So what if someone drives a stock rig?

So what if she wants to put decals and a light bar on her Jeep before she upgrades the suspension, wheels, or fenders?

It’s HER Jeep, so why the hell does it matter to YOU what she chooses to upgrade first? Maybe she doesn’t have the money to do much at first, but we all started somewhere, right?

One of the biggest issues we run across in the co-ed clubs is members of the same club putting each other down. Playing favorites when it comes to gatherings and club events or charging a fee to some members to recover them from a mud hole while high-fiving and doing it for free for others.

These are the reasons we create our women-centric groups as a place to feel safe and empowered to ask questions and learn about our Jeeps. These are supposed to be supportive, non-judgmental groups and clubs, and yet, they are some of the worst in the way of clique-y behavior.

These behaviors are not only childish, but they don’t represent the Jeep life in any way. You don’t have to like everyone else in your club, but purposefully being exclusionary or spiteful isn’t the answer and those types of reindeer games are completely unnecessary.

This is where I’ll go back to that whole “strength in numbers” statement. We have more power today to enlighten and support one another than at any other time in history. Our common threads should bring us together to overcome the pervasive subjugation that has kept us from forming the truly powerful bonds of sisterhood we are owed.

We form Jeep clubs and groups to unite with other like-minded women and Jeep enthusiasts. We all want to embody the Jeep life and the values that come along with it. I think it’s time that we stop letting our differences of opinion, social class, or financial status drive us apart, and let our love for Jeeps unite us in our common goal of thriving and living in the present with a supportive circle of sisters and their Jeeps.