BALOG COLUMN: Exclusive clubs just dont fit in
When Augusta National announced Monday that Condoleezza Rice and South Carolinaís own Darla Moore have been admitted as the clubís first female members, it should have been cause for celebration.
Of course, itís never that easy. Discussion Monday included whether there would need to be facilities changes and why these two women were picked in particular.
And then there was the inevitable resulting backlash, which heated up quickly on social media.
Comments like: ďlet the dudes have a boyclub. who cares,Ē and ďWHO CARES??? Why is it society thinks men and women must be included in everything the other sex does???Ē
Those comments and other similar ones were made by women on The New York Timesí Facebook page.
To be fair, there also were several men and women who said it was about time.
There are legitimate questions about the announcement. Why only two? Who will be the next women admitted? Is this little more than token representation? There are no easy answers, but at least weíre talking about it, which means weíre farther along than we were.
Augusta is not alone in the country, or the South for that matter, when it comes to exclusivity.
There are places in Charleston that didnít allow people of color or women until not so long ago. And of course, there are places here and everywhere that still restrict access.
Some folks think this is fine ó that itís the right and privilege of a private enterprise to set its own guidelines and membership rules.
Thatís all technically valid and correct. But itís not necessarily right.
According to the National Golf Foundation, there are 25.7 million golfers in the United States.
The U.S. Census on Monday estimated the countryís population at 314,199,669. That means about 8 percent of the American public golfs.
Even if you donít play, itís a chance to network, to meet people you might not come into contact with any other way, to socialize.
Itís true, Moore and Rice could play the course even though they were not members. But being invited by a member and being a member are two entirely different things. The former is a courtesy extended by somebody in a position of power, while the second is a position of power.
And thatís whatís missing when women and other minorities are not admitted into male enclaves: the opportunity to lead and shape the discussion as opposed to being an afterthought or a bit player.
Mondayís announcement certainly doesnít mean that women can or will join every poker game, every cigar club, every exclusive gathering place for men.
Why do women want access to all-male enclaves?
Because itís where the decision makers are.
Because it opens other doors and other opportunities.
Because as long as people are excluded from opportunities based on race, gender or sexual orientation, we still have a long, long way to go.
Reach Digital Editor Melanie Balog at email@example.com or 937-5565.