SUV's, Muscle Cars, Women, and The Pope
A fourth-generation (2006-) Ford Explorer, the best-selling mid-size SUV in the United States.
Be honest, does the title of this article strike you as being perplexing? Are you scratching your head wondering what is the connection between The Pope, Muscle Cars, Women, and SUV's? If so, be patient and read on because we are about to connect-the-dots for you. We begin with The Pope. If we can agree that, no document, no statements, comes forth from the Vatican without The Popes express approval and blessing, then we can proceed. It was on June 19th, 2007, that the Vatican, under the leadership of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, released a document innocuously titled "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road".
It was this 36 page document of 10 ‘Thou shall’ and ‘Thou shall not’ commandments that caused a ripple effect that made its way from one continent to another. The first to experience and react to it were the high-performance vehicle loving Italians. Both Italian Ferrari owners and dealerships were heard to gasp when they learned that the Holy See had suddenly taken a somewhat hostile position towards high-end car ownership. Then, like an ill-wind blowing, the rest of Europe’s high-end car manufacturers and owners began to feel a general discomfort. That discomfort, that ill wind, then crossed the ocean to America where Catholics, who had just parked their Mercedes, BMW’s, and Lexus’s in the church parking lot, were observed squirming in their pews. But the worst of its effect fell on the woman, in particular, the women who owned high performance luxury Sports Utility Vehicles. So why was it that it was female high-end SUV owners, that were the most distressed? Well, it was because, they had been hiding, carrying, harboring, and living with an unrealized secret, and now it was realized, and there was no way to deny or escape from it.
They could no longer deny that envy and a lust for power had passed amongst generations of women. They could no longer escape the fact that they, their mothers, and grandmothers, had longed to feel, and have ownership of, the power that men had felt as they steered their muscle cars, Harley Hogs, monster trucks, and high-performance sports cars. Then quite unexpectedly, what had been denied to them as being somehow unacceptable arrived and became available to them in the form of an SUV.
After all, who would dare to take issue with a ‘soccer mom’ ‘little league mom’ or Pop Warner football mom, driving a brood of young players and their equipment back and forth from practices and games? Nobody that’s who. It was almost touching, heart-warming, a slice of Americana, to see a women behind the wheel of a SUV transporting a group of uniformed youngsters to their sport destination. Put another way, it was an acceptable sight that remained acceptable even when women were no longer transporting anyone but themselves to the manicurist. It was only when the SUV began to take a very hard turn from its original utilitarian purpose that a few eyebrows began to rise in question of why a woman might be driving a vehicle that was originally meant to provide passenger room together with towing and off-road capability. Especially a single woman who one just knew was never going to be towing anything with her BMW X5, nor was she ever going to allow it to be scratched by the bramble and brush of rough and rocky terrain.. Admittedly, even if one wanted to, one would nevertheless pause at the thought of starting an argument with a woman literally looking down on you from her perch inside a Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, or Lincoln Navigator L. Particularly when one considers that she could, if she wanted to, roll right over your fuel-economy sedan.
So then, what exactly was the Holy declaration that caused so much angst and fervor? Two sentences that is all it was. The first, sentence was nestled in the section titled “Vanity and personal glorification” and said, "Cars particularly lend themselves to being used by their owners to show off, and as a means for outshining other people and arousing a feeling of envy.” This is followed by the fifth commandment warning, which cuts to the chase by saying,, “Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination."
And there you have it, that’s all there was to it and had these pronouncements not come down from the seat of the Holy See, they most probably would have been ignored. But they did, and they weren’t and that’s all there is to that.
JC Curran has a particular interest in people and their relationship to cars, thereby, JC lovingly created and manages Vehicle Management.