Monday, August 20, 2012

What We Can Learn From Augusta National

In this day and age, you can be a boys club or you can be a club of excellence. You can't be both. I have no objection to single sex organizations. None whatsoever. I see no problem with people wanting to associate with members of their own genders. To this day, many single sex organizations are allowed to continue that way without scrutiny, including college fraternities and sororities as well sports teams. As someone who benefited greatly from my participation in a single sex college sports team, I can certainly see why men would want to socialize, through golf, with other men. For this reason, I had never been able to bring myself to vilify Augusta National Golf Club in the way that others did.
But it was Augusta's prestige that made its all male policy so contentious, and it's that same prestige that has made its inclusion of women so momentous. Because of what Augusta represented in the public eye--tradition, excellence, prestige, its exclusion of women seemed to suggest that in this day and age, women still weren't welcome in the upper echelon of male society. Augusta, of course, was just one club with its own unique traditions and quirks. But because its golf course was so elite, because it hosted the Masters, because it was so firmly entrenched in the public imagination, and because membership was such a status symbol, it became seen as unfair that women weren't allowed admittance. Restricting membership to Augusta became, in the eyes of the public, another glass ceiling that women had to break.
What we can learn from Augusta, therefore, is something that all women would take heart to hear: men can have their all-boys clubs in the same way that women can have all-girl clubs. But in this day and age, when something transcends the single sex social-role to which it has been confined, its self-projected image of excellence will eventually require it to either go coed or to lose its prominent place in American imaginations.

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