No girls allowed

Pam Frampton
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Sexism is alive and well on the manicured greens at Augusta

"Women are persons in matters of pains and penalties, but are not persons in matters of rights and privileges."

- 1876 decision from an English court

Given that women have only been legally recognized as persons in Canada for 83 years, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that there are still doors that are closed to us.

But it's hard to fathom that in the 21st century there are still clubs with "No girls allowed" signs on the door. And that intelligent men and women would support such clubs.

Welcome - if you're a man, that is - to the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, which has accepted male members only since it opened in 1933.

And initially only white men, at that.

Augusta's storied past records a legacy of exclusion - not only were black men not allowed to become members there until 1990, a course rule at one point stipulated that the only role for blacks at Augusta was carrying white men's clubs and following in their wake to rake up the sand traps.

On April 2 in the New York Times, Karen Crouse noted that one of the club's founders, Clifford Roberts, once vowed, "As long as I'm alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black."

How's that for progressive policy?

Roberts is dead now, and Tiger Woods won his first Masters at Augusta in 1997 with a white caddie, so there is some justice in the world. But not for women at Augusta. Not yet.

The old boys' club issue raised its ugly head last week when news reports noted that a key corporate sponsor of the Masters tournament - tech giant IBM - has a female CEO, Virginia Rometty.

"Augusta has offered membership to the past four IBM CEOs, but because of the club's all-male policy, it is unclear if an invitation has been extended to Ms. Rometty," Spencer E. Ante and Jason Gay reported in The Globe and Mail on Monday.

Rometty, they noted, is a golfer.

Outrage at Augusta's anachronistic policy has even spilled over into American politics and has created a pair of unlikely allies: U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney both think the rule should be turfed.

Forbidding full membership to women is discrimination, pure and simple. It displays a lack of respect for women - a denial of their rights as equal members of society.

It's not that Augusta doesn't let women on the grounds, mind you. They can even play a round there if a member has invited them, but they cannot be members themselves.

It's a club that thinks it's OK for a high-powered CEO like Virginia Rometty to host guests there, but she's not welcome to actually join. (Why the heck would you want to be associated with a club that wouldn't even have you as a member?)

It's a club that doesn't seem to get the fact that if women can lead major corporations and run governments, perhaps it's time to acknowledge they are capable of whacking a few golf balls around - and paying for the privilege with their own money - too.

And we're not talking about women-only gyms here, or men's fraternal societies. There are many gender-specific groups out there that set their own rules.

We're talking about a club that touts itself as one of the premier golf courses in the world - a course that every keen golfer dreams of playing. Or at least, should be able to dream of playing.

It's also a club that is so set on keeping women out that it's breaking its own rules by not inviting IBM's CEO to become a member.

You'd expect such a legendary course to set a better example.

Interestingly, the U.K. Daily Mail reported on April 5 that IBM contributed to the abolishment of the whites-only rule at some American golf clubs when a club that banned blacks - at Shoal Creek, Ala. - was chosen to host the PGA Championship back in 1990.

"IBM played a big part in the change, joining other sponsors in putting pressure on Shoal Creek by pulling its television advertisements," the British paper noted.

Perhaps it's time IBM got all hot and bothered again and pulled its sponsorship of the Masters.

That would make the good ol' boys at Augusta stand up and take notice. It would also knock some of the tarnish off the club's legacy.

And it would send a strong, clear message to girls that they, too, have a right to dream big.

Pam Frampton is a columnist and The Telegram's associate managing editor. She can be reached by email at Twitter: pam_frampton

Organizations: IBM, Augusta National Golf Club, New York Times Globe and Mail U.K. Daily Mail

Geographic location: Canada, Georgia, U.S. Shoal Creek

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Recent comments

  • Colin Burke
    April 19, 2012 - 14:40

    Mr. Morrison, I do not read in the New Testament that Jesus saidhe was not good. What I read there is that he said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God." I take that to mean he was inviting his interlocutor to draw the conclusion that he was God. Your inferring that I implied that women are inferior to men is something I deem insulting to me, as well as vastly mistaken about what I meant. But now that I'm here: objecting to the Church's regulations being made, and her doctrines taught, by men is a reasonable attitude only if the doctrines are false or the regulations are an unreasonable imposition. If the doctrines are true and the regulations reasonable, the men apparently did not need to draw on women's higher talents to help them in teaching and regulating. The only other basis for such objections would be either a belief that doctrines taught mainly by women would be even more true and their regulations even more reasonable, or the belief that the Church ought to let women make up false doctrines (on the presumption that she lets men do that) and impose arbitrary regulations. Why any rational woman would want that kind of power, I myself would not presume to say. I think that a highly sexist defender of the Church might be tempted to suggest that so far as Church regulations merely reflect purely male preference, it is a preference for limited and strictly necessary regulation. Have any of you who object to priests and bishops making regulations ever actually read the Code of Canon Law? Not that I have, either.

  • Herb Morrison
    April 19, 2012 - 11:58

    Mr. Burke, when people express themselves akwardly, it is usually because they are on shaky ground. Your thinly veiled not so subtle inference that because most women are neither holy or virginal, a la the Virgin Mary, they are inferior to men, and deserve to be treat as second class persons by any person or group, including the Roman Catholic Church ,besides being disgustingly chauvanistic, is also flawed from a theological standpoint. When Jesus was on earth in human form, because He was, at that time, vulnerable as any other physical being to temptation, pain, etc, Jesus declared that he was not good, let alone Holy. Jesus was able to minister effectively because, despite the fact that He was vulnerable to temptation, pain, and all other things to which physical beings are vulnerable, Jesus was able to remain faithful to God, who is Holy. As a result Jesus was able to do the things He did by the power of the Holy Spirit, not because He was Holy at that point in His existence. Hence Jesus' assertion that He was not good, let alone Holy, at that point. Consequently, how can the Catholic Church's claim that the Virgin Mary was Holy be substantiated. Mary was blessed, for sure, but she was no Holier that you or I.

  • Colin Burke
    April 19, 2012 - 10:27

    I've put it awkwardly so far, but my point really is simply that the power of the Catholic Church is the power of a mother -- which is what the church claims to be -- over her sons. That power (I believe) is greater than the power of mothers over their daughters, as attested by the attitude of the Church's more modernist daughters, who tend to favour their father. The truth is not that the Church is subject to men because of men's preferences but rather that men obey the Church because she claims to teach them truth objectively: it is more likely to be women than men whose strongest expression of disapproval will simply be "I don't like it!" with considerable emphasis on the word "like."

  • Colin Burke
    April 19, 2012 - 09:43

    "...and none of the reasons are healthy." Name one or two? Since the Church cannot compel women (or men) to belong to it, it hasn't any real power over them, so therefore its organization, which is chiefly a teaching authority which mostly its regulations confirm, is not essentially a "power structure." So far as it has power, that power consists in the ability to convince parents they ought to bring up their children in the Church. That abiity rests in the Church's teaching authority, not in its regulations. Mothers are more importantly parental than fathers, as is suggested in the difference between the words "mothering" and "fathering". So far as the Church as any power, then, it resides in Catholic mothers. That means "motherhood in fact is the power structure" of the Catholic Church, as I first suggested.

  • Colin Burke
    April 18, 2012 - 06:05

    Hello, again. How do you progressive feminists feel about girls being allowed to join what used to be the Boy Scouts while boys aren't allowed to join the Girl Guides?

  • Doug Smith
    April 17, 2012 - 22:00

    Mr. Burke, I know of not one rule, or dogma of the Catholic Church and there are hundreds if not thousands, made by a woman, not one. Your inability to identify even one , demonstrates my point. Men make the rules women obey. I never said women are compelled against their will to belong to the Catholic Church, I said they are prevented from belonging to the power structure of the church and that is bigotry. Why women want to belong to the church in the first place is a separate issue entirely and none of the reasons are healthy . Mr. Burke, the fact that the Bible was written exclusively by men and the Christian god is two thirds male and one third spirit should say something to you about how Christianity and the Catholic Church view women. Doug Smith, GFW

  • Colin Burke
    April 16, 2012 - 16:15

    OK, Mr. Smith, if what I said is demonstrably false, show me how you demonstrate its falsity: Prove by logical argument, instead of just saying so, that the making of regulations by priests, bishops, cardinals and popes compels women against their will to belong to the Catholic Church and to endorse its teaching on the value of motherhood instead of allowing women as freely as men to accept the authority and doctrines of that Church; please proceed. Awaiting that demonstration, I retain the view that people have more choice about belonging to the Church than about working for a capitalist employer.

  • Ron Tizzard
    April 16, 2012 - 10:01

    Women have demonstrated immense power and leadership in every aspect of human social development history, from the beginning to this day. They've just been too busy to realize, or demand adequate, rightful, appropriate recognition of their true roles in too many instances. With respect, I suggest , they silently stood-by, through history, with some rare exceptions, not demanding the worth of their roles in the evolution of of social and political history. Thay just haven't demanded recognition and notoriety associated with these successes as males have through time. Tthey just don't exert that power en-mass. In this 21st. century, while sad, they should, again, take a page from history and stand up for their rights to full equal, social participation in anything (in its limitedless, broadest definition) in which human participation is the only expectation. In this context of Augusta's female- anachronistic policy of exclusion should be 'outed' as a scar on the face of human social development.. Are there woman who can equally compete with Masters' level of play'? I have no idea...but personally, I think the possibility is there in some instances. But why not have a women's Master's tournament? There is no reason...the course is there, a beautiful course, which is the real attraction for most arm-chair golfers, like me. Otherwise, on the social level, I think it is a scar on the face of the Master's organization to have such a female-exclusionary policy.

  • Doug Smith
    April 16, 2012 - 09:39

    Mr. Burke, your comment, “Motherhood in fact is the power structure of the Catholic Church,” is demonstrably and factually incorrect. How many rules and regulations of the Catholic Church have been made by women and how many have been made by priests, bishops, cardinals, popes? Perhaps you should ask yourself why you are having such a tough time dealing with reality. Remember, the truth will set you free. Doug Smith, GFW

  • David W
    April 16, 2012 - 07:59

    I cannot be a member od the GoodLife Fitness Gym at the Blackmaresh Road Dominion because it is ''WOMEN ONLY''. Is this discrimination? No, because it's a private club. As is Augusta National.

  • Colin Burke
    April 16, 2012 - 06:55

    A further remark, Mr. Smith: Motherhood in fact is "the power structure" of the Catholic Church; her priests have not power but authority, which even those Catholics who are most "progressive" can disobey with far more impunity than they could the requirements of capitalist employment or the government's policies in education, which the best educated professional teachers can only grumble about in private because the system which teaches "free enterprise" is not itself a free enterprise as any family farm would be where a mother could teach her children the real worth of farming to the family.

  • Colin Burke
    April 16, 2012 - 06:16

    Hi, fellas. It is not the Catholic Church which teaches, nor I who feel, that the role of mothers is only to be "baby-making machines" producing pupils for professional educators to profit from. It is the modern progressive feminist who assumes that. The Church teaches, and I feel, that every mother ought to be as well qualified to teach her own children as any three highly educated nuns. I am grateful for my own mother's having influenced me to " try out," which it turned out was all I was really capable of doing, for the Catholic priesthood, which resulted in my learning much from male role models really admirable who admired womanhood. My two years in a seminary did much to remedy assumptions inculcated by the "Catholic" education system too much dominated by the Newfoundland government.

  • Doug Smith
    April 15, 2012 - 09:09

    Mr. Burke, why did you put the word , discriminating, in quotes? According to the dictionary, discrimination is the making of a distinction in favour of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit. Therefore , Mr. Burke, when the Catholic Church will not allow women to be part of the power structure of the church simply because they are women, the Catholic Church is guilty of discrimination in its worst form. Because women can bear children which men can’t is not a reason to bar women from the power structure of the church. Women are quite capable of doing both tasks. As regards the church being necessary for the forgiveness of injustices, the best thing the church could do is stop creating so many crimes against humanity. Doug Smith, GFW

  • Herb Morrison
    April 15, 2012 - 08:24

    Mr. Burke. When I was in seminary at two different theological schools, three of most caple teachers I had the priviledge of studying under three women who were Roman Catholic Sisters. These women were intelligent, well-educated, and, in general terms fine human beings I was priviledged th know. I wonder how they would feel about your assertion that the most important role that women play in our society, the only thing women are good for, is to play the role as baby-making machines.

  • Petertwo
    April 15, 2012 - 07:42

    I am not convinced, nor does it seem that women today are, of the argument that a woman's place is in the home popping out babies. With the world population at 7 billion it is probably time to decrease the world population through attrition and not have women have excessive births in order to keep up the numbers in any country or religious denomination. I think it highly immoral to box up any human being while they are still alive. Women, today, ought to be able to play all the golf they want to, better that than men killing themselves off with wars to serve the wealthy. Wars never resolve anything except to keep hatreds and fears alive, at least golf is healthy.

  • Colin Burke
    April 14, 2012 - 22:29

    Mr. Smith, the Catholic Church in "discriminating" against women says in effect that the only thing women can do that men cannot is quite as important to the Church as anything it needs men to do. Does any other modern institution insist that that is so, or even admit that it might be? Do you? Though it hasn't been taught lately thus explicitly, the real reason bearing children is of paramount importance is that it is utterly necessary to the continued doing of justice by material beings in a material universe, to which the Church's being necessary for the forgiveness of injustices might well be deemed secondary. Having women play golf, Ms. Frampton, is nowhere near even secondary to either of those necessities.

  • Herb Morrison
    April 14, 2012 - 20:59

    Dear Political Watcher The take back the night march is women's way of saying "no more" to any form of violence against women. As a man, I am fully aware that while I can empathize with women who are victims of abuse at the hands of men, I cannot possibly fully appreciate the impact that such abuse, has on any woman,in the same way as a woman who has been abused by a man can. Expecting me to be able to do so would be the equivalent of expectring me to fully appreciate what it feels like for a woman to experience labour pains. Comparing the exclusion of women from participatipn in a golf tournament, which is clearly an act of discrimmination, to the exclusion of men from the take back the night march, which is understandable under the circumstances I have cited, is at best an example of comparing chalk to cheese

  • scottie
    April 14, 2012 - 20:04

    Think that's bad? Try the entire Muslim world for REAL sexism where wife beating is mandated in the Koran. This is the culture that they are exporting to this country, by the way, yet everybody bends over backwards for them to prove how tolerant we are. The MSM twists itself into knots to avoid the subject and yet manages to find a golf course in Georgia to pick on.

  • Political watcher
    April 14, 2012 - 16:05

    Men can't participate in the annual "take back the night march": don't hear you complaining about that

  • Doug Smith
    April 14, 2012 - 09:06

    Ms. Frampton, you claim that in the 21st. Century it is hard to understand that intelligent men and women still support clubs that have “ No girls allowed” signs on the door. Well it doesn’t surprise me at all. The largest discriminator against women, the Catholic Church, (only men can be priests, bishops, cardinals, pope) continues to get support from women. What do you have to say about that? Doug Smith,GFW