After 80 years of denying membership to half the world's population, Augusta National announced its landmark decision to invite women — at least two of them — to join the historically all-male golf club.
Next spring, millions of little girls will huddle around their televisions to watch the Masters Tournament with unprecedented excitement.
And in the moment when they see the bulge of a woman's bosom heaving with pride beneath the lapels of a green jacket, they'll re-evaluate the worth they'd associated with their gender, discard any preconceived notions of their feminine limitations, and realize that anything boys can do, they can, too. So long as they eventually become millionaires. And have bipartisan political pressure on their sides.
Caveats aside, that's the fantasy world evoked by USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, who on Monday wrote of the overdue policy change that will admit former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and banking wiz Darla Moore.
"Today, one of the last bastions of male supremacy is no more," she wrote. "Today, Augusta National has made a crucial statement to every girl and woman who has thought about picking up a golf club. The message is simple: You are welcome.
"That same message is being sent to every girl and woman who has even thought about trying to enter a sport or a field of study or a job that boys and men have dominated. If Augusta National can bring in women, then anyone can. That's how big of a deal this is."
History truly has been made. After eight decades of inclement conditions for women on America's fairways, Augusta has finally given the "OK" for women and girls to live their dreams, particularly if those dreams involve riding around in a cart all day and trading stock tips with a bunch of big-butt muckety-mucks with penises. (Golf is a great sport, but let's agree that people join clubs like Augusta in part because it's awfully good for busine$$.)
So, yes. I've had a slightly more difficult time than Ms. Brennan getting jazzed about Augusta's grand gesture.
Regardless of his track record (pun intended) as chief of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Augusta Chairman Billy Payne isn't a feminist hero. He's a businessman with common sense. His predecessors' failure to employ their common sense doesn't necessarily earn him the pats on the back he's been receiving — and that's not to mention the fact that every other golf course in the United States did this a long, long time ago.
And doesn't it seem like a bit of an overstatement to declare the death of a "bastion of male supremacy" when its membership is still 99.99 percent male? Two women does not the downfall a misogynist institution make. Change to an antiquated policy — sorry, a "tradition" — has to start somewhere, sure, but perhaps we should wait and see what happens the next time they decide to invite a woman in.
And, mostly, I don't think organizations — or individuals, for that matter — should be applauded for doing the right thing, especially when it takes a long time and lots of arm twisting. The whole thing feels a bit "too little, too late." If I was Condi, I think I'd be inclined to say "No, thanks" to the green jacket — as fashion forward as it might be when a woman finally wears it.
Funnily enough, political common ground was forged when it came to women being admitted to Augusta. President Barack Obama favored it. So did Mitt Romney. Even notorious dick Newt Gingrich supported the idea. Basically, this decision couldn't have been more politically popular if it was re-killing Hitler.
Two people who weren't nearly as vocally supportive of Augusta's policy change: Condi Rice and Darla Moore.
To say that a glass ceiling was shattered in this case would give the erroneous impression that these two women had been wailing on it with the business ends of their chipping wedges. That's not exactly so.
"I'm as progressive as they come. But some things ought not to be messed with," Moore told the Wall Street Journal about a decade ago when a reporter asked if she would accept an invitation to the club.
Rice, asked if she thought Augusta National should be required to accept female members, told Golf Digest last year, "No. I actually don't. ... Obviously, I don't believe that you can have racial discrimination. That is something that is not only illegal but immoral. But there are women-only associations and men-only associations, and these are things that we need to leave to people to sort out. The face of America is changing, the face of golf is changing. All of this will change."
Well, it has changed. But is change ever a thing people should sit around and wait for?
A few years ago, there was a chain email circulating that perpetuated the goofball idea that "golf" was actually an acronym that stands for "gentlemen only, ladies forbidden." Granted, it was being circulated mostly by living, breathing clichés of American men; the kinds of potbellied husbands who insist on calling rec rooms "man caves" and honestly believe their wives are preventing their lives from resembling beer commercials.
Obviously, it's bullshit, but it's indicative of at least a handful of people's attitudes when it comes to women picking up clubs and playing with the boys. Whether Augusta's decision changes any attitudes remains to be seen. But they could've at least been attempting to change attitudes a lot sooner.
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