Womens Motorcycle Clubs and Womens Motorcycle Riding Clubs
Just like the mens riding world, some women ride long and hard, and take riding a whole lot more seriously than others. After the first couple years of riding, when the novelty effect finally goes away, if you still love to ride, and you have figured out ways to get a lot of riding into your life, thereís a good chance that youíre a biker. If you were always a lady to begin with, thereís no reason you canít be both a lady and a biker. Being a biker doesnít have to change that, but your wardrobe might become mostly black and blue.
In the womens motorcycle riding subculture, there are differences between motorcycle clubs and riding clubs. The differences donít tend to be as obvious as in the mens MC world. You rarely hear of problems between womens clubs, but they do exist. Most womens clubs get along quite well with each other, with very rare rivalry between clubs. Occasionally, there are incidents that occur. These will be discussed, but first letís get back to the differences between clubs.
A true motorcycle club is a group which you earn your patch rather than pay dues for it, usually by being a prospect first, proving loyalty and willingness to help the organization. Typically, an MC wears a 3 piece backpatch. The 3 pieces are a center logo, with top and bottom rockers. The top rocker is typically the name of the club, and the bottom is usually a chapter name or geographic area. In the womens mc world, there may also be a smaller patch with a designator of MC or WMC. Womens motorcycle clubs usually have the word sisterhood as part of their history, description or mission statement. A sisterhood is a relationship of caring that is often as strong as in a family of blood relatives. In the mens MC world, a new MC should contact the dominant MC in the area for permissions ranging from permission to exist as an MC and approval of backpatches. If a womens MC wants to be taken seriously by the mens MC they should subject themselves to the same. If there is a dominant womens MC in your area, you might ask them for help in setting up a meeting. As of 2005, Womens MCís might get away with no formal approvals, but if you design a backpatch with rockers, you should do plenty of good research to ensure your patch is very unique and that your use of colors in the rockers is not similar to other motorcycle clubs. There are some color combinations for rockers that you will want to avoid. Clubs, whether male or female, get perturbed if you wear a patch and colors that looks like theirs, and rightfully so.
A riding club is usually a group that has dues, and the dues are usually annual. The dues are often just enough to pay for a one piece or two piece patch, a newsletter, and perhaps some other stuff. In addition to the patch, if any, they may also have a seperate RC or WRC designator patch. The larger womens riding clubs, which have a few thousand members, might also use the dues to afford some leadership salaries. Riding clubs have a variety of things which make them unique. Check the membership requirements and the by-laws. Some of the groups have requirements about motorcycle size while there are other groups which allow membership to women who donít ride. This might be the perfect kind of group for you to join, particularly if you are a novice rider.
There are some motorcycle riding groups that are neither MCís nor RCís. They do not demand loyalty, and they donít demand dues. They are simply groups of women who get together and ride. Such groups might also wear patches. If the official patch is a 3 piece with rockers, it will likely be considered an MC regardless of what it calls itself.
Additional types of groups include owners groups, such as H.O.G., and associations, such as womens motorcycle racing associations. Owners groups are usually riding clubs. There are some clubs which require that the members ride a Harley-Davidson, but in terms of everything else, they are usually about as far from a LOH (Ladies of Harley) as you can get.
Coalitions of clubs have not been formed within the womens motorcycling communities. There has been no purpose in the womens world yet. They could be formed in the future, as the popularity of women motorcycling increases. Until there is a demonstrated need, instead of unnecessarily reinventing the wheel, it would be best to see if the local coalition of clubs is willing to accept womens motorcycle clubs. With more women riding than ever before, some men are respecting womens mcís. Some donít. Some never will.
Speaking of not reinventing the wheel, there are many new clubs being formed. There are so many that, statistically, the average new club only lasts two years. If there is no club in your area that meets your needs, rather than form a new club, you might want to contact an existing club about forming a local chapter. It takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication to run an MC that is worthwhile, so donít start one unless youíre pretty sure you know the score and have lots of time.
With the advent of the popularity of the internet, there are a slew of new internet only clubs whose members donít get together and ride. Usually their sites are forums and blogs. Some of these allow members who donít ride. These are referred to as virtual clubs, internet clubs, cyber clubs, and will probably earn a meaningless designator of e-mc, e=mc squared (something of a put down).
Within each of the groups above, there may be further categorization. The way a club is categorized depends on their membership requirements, and the expectations a group has of itsí members. Like the world of mens motorcycle clubs, there are cruiser clubs, sportsbike clubs, and requirements that a members motorcycle be over a certain displacement, such as over 700 cc. There is a broad spectrum and variety of groups. Some are quite fashionable, wearing the same color clothing as a sign of unity.
Although women are not as prone to rivalry and territorial problems between clubs, occasional problems can and do occur.
The most typical problem is when a club has a falling out and splits up, leaving two groups who both want to retain either the backpatch and name or both. I have heard of problems of this nature 3 times in the past 5 years, so there might be a few more that I donít know about. The patch and name, of course, should stay with the founders. If the backpatches in a club are well controlled, they are often serialized on the underside. If a group splits off, all the group members should turn in the patches to the founding group as they terminate their membership. Failure to do so, can lead to major resentment and disruption of both the founding group and the terminated members who fail to surrender backpatches, at minimum. Problem resolutions are not always simple.
Corporations are worse about this sort of thing than MCís ever thought of being. Iíve caught several businesses trying to pass themselves off as womens mcís. One of them was foolish enough to blatantly try to use the name of a well established womens mc - (one of them that starts with an A), in order to establish a web site and sell products which would appeal to women who ride motorcycles. They sent their site to me as though it was the popular mc, hoping I would switch the link for them! I couldnít believe it! They tried using the name of one of the more established womens mcís, thinking I might not know better and wouldnít check them out. I verbally chastised them up and down and immediately contacted the leadership of the mc. I was rallying with them a couple months before that. I was real pleased to stop them cold.
(If they did their research, theyíd find out that even though there are more women riding than ever before, it is still the men who are the ones who have the most money).
Other problems? There are always going to be some kind of problems. If you think about it, most everything is copastatic, with the proof being that womens groups of all kinds are having more fun than ever.
Youíd probably be wrong if your first thought was rivalry between support mcís of 1% clubs or womens mcís otherwise aligned with mens 1% mcís. Iím not privvy to anything that goes on, and if I were I wouldnít tell you anything anyhow. The ladies Iíve communicated with, and the ladies Iíve met, all know old school ways, and are really terrific to get along with. At least thatís the way it seems to me.
It has been my experience, that if you have old school respect for all riders, as a woman motorcycle rider, member of a womens riding club, and even as a womens mc, you should have no problem getting along with all other women riders.
Happy and safe riding!
Janice is publisher of Worldwide Bikers, and a veteran motorcycle rider since 1968.
Rides a Harley-Davidson in North Carolina and travels the east coast. AKA Northwind, PRIESTESS.