American Popular Culture Home American Popular Culture Home
American Popular Culture Home About Americana Contact Americana American Popular Culture Archive
Emerging Pop Culture
Magazine Home
Become a member!
Receive our
Sports in American Popular CultureVisit the Sports Archive
 Teaching the Masters

Flash forward. The year is 2004 and the Augusta Country Club, the traditional and symbolic American home of golf’s Masters Tournament, has come full circle, abandoned its archaic and Neanderthal ways, and finally introduced its first female member to the nation. Amidst much pomp and fanfare, the honorable and quite fashionable Mrs. Fill-in-the-Blank must shield her eyes from the all the flashbulbs as she tees off at the first hole. She chuckles, amused as her tee shot carries a bit to the left, but a nice drive nonetheless. She completes eighteen holes with a more than respectable 87 – everyone knows it’s a tough course. Even Hootie Johnson himself, the embattled leader of the Cro-Magnon horde, is there at the final green to congratulate her and shake her hand, cameras blazing all the while. The days events are reported on every imaginable television program, from SportsCenter to the Tonight Show, the local news to 20/20. It’s a benchmark for every woman who ever burned a bra or got paid less for doing the same job as a man. We all go to bed peacefully in the knowledge that justice has been served, and we feel free to dream that tomorrow will be an even better day.

Now back to reality, let’s take a look at what is really happening here. What in all honesty does Martha Burk hope to achieve with her vigilant crusade by asking Tiger to boycott the tournament (and, incidentally, forego his chance to set a record by winning it three years in a row) because Augusta doesn’t allow female members? Will battered wives and girlfriends be allowed to play a few rounds at one of the country’s premiere golf resorts? Will single, teenaged mothers suffering with AIDS or breast cancer hobnob with society’s elite on the fringe of the twelfth hole? Are there not more noble and necessary endeavors out there for Mrs. Burk to focus all this vibrant energy upon? Ultimately, if Martha Burk has her way and accomplishes her righteous task of seeing the first female member at Augusta, only two people will benefit; the proud and socially accessible figurehead woman whose name will one day be the answer to a question on Trivial Pursuit, and the wildly egotistical Martha Burk herself.

Her efforts here are wasted on the symbolism of what such change could accomplish. Symbolism in today’s fifteen seconds worth of news time before the next bigger and better story comes up is pointless. Action is necessary, but the focus should be more essential. What good is mankind served when a woman who already eats caviar daily gets to add her name to a list of notable CEO’s and Captains of Industry whose monikers already adorn the Augusta membership scroll? Has Mrs. Burk created a better world for the daughters of America to grow up in should she achieve the ultimate prize of her mission? She would say yes – what a surprise. The truth of the matter is that this story, once done, would disappear more quickly than my chance of ever wearing the green jacket. So much time lost on something so truly pointless, when so much of that time and effort could have been spent on making a real difference to women who actually need support and hope.

I have trouble understanding why Martha Burk is at such odds with Hootie Johnson and his Country Club. Let’s get one thing straight – there is a huge difference between race and gender discrimination. There are many accepted institutions where the difference in gender is the driving force behind the organization's identity. The Boys and Girls Scouts of America, Sigma Chi for the guys and Delta Gamma for the girls, or a number of other gender-differentiated groups where sex is not an issue. The hypocrisy is actually rather frightening. Burk’s organization itself, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, is the ultimate in sexist. The name itself says it all.

Could I join? If I follow her logic here, then I should be able to convince a young, male college student, to fight for his right to join a sorority (I’m actually shocked no smart young kid has tried this before – think of the sleepovers!). Women even have two television networks, Lifetime and Oxygen, dedicated exclusively to women’s programming. But strangely, men don’t seem to mind all that much. As a matter of fact, there are no clauses in the rulebooks of men’s major sports that state women are not allowed. I am convinced that if a woman were good enough to play in the NBA or in the NFL, she would. It is only the women’s leagues, such as the WNBA or WUSA, that are gender specific, obliterating any man’s chances of ever playing for the Sparks. And once again, I don’t hear or see any men complaining about it.

From a male perspective, it just seems like today’s woman is out to prove that she can do everything that a man has already shown he can do – head a large corporation, put on the gloves and box or play tackle football, even want to become frontline Marines in heavy combat. Men know that women are more than capable leaders. Men know that women are incredibly intelligent and insightful, instinctual even (practically bordering on supernatural in some). Men may scoff a little bit when women claim to be physically equal, but we’ll never see eye to eye on that. But where’s the challenge in simply doing what men have always done? It almost seems like an affirmation that men, pigs that we all are – at least if you watch enough Lifetime - must not have been doing everything all that badly (which most feminists would boldly claim), if so many women are just doing their best to imitate our lead, or follow in our clumsy footsteps. It’s time for women to stop duplicating and try some more innovating. My suggestion to Martha Burk – instead of putting so much pointless and misguided effort into getting a woman admitted as a member at male dominated Augusta Country Club, try organizing a group of powerful, wealthy and influential women together to design and build an amazing golf course of your own. Then leave the membership open only to women.

That’ll learn us Cretans. (Although I’m not sure what it’ll do to help those single teenage mothers…)

December 2002

[back to top]

Home | About Us | Contact | Archive
All materials on this site © 2002 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture
Website Created by Cave Painting