The Masters of sexism.

This past weekend, golf fans had the opportunity to witness what some might consider their sport’s equivalent of the Super Bowl – The Masters at Augusta National Golf Course.  Unlike other “Majors” in golf (one of four “major” golf tournaments that occur each year), The Masters is played at this same course every year it takes place – and has done so for many decades.  And, like every other Masters tournament in recent history, a heated issue has come up once again – that women are not allowed membership at Augusta National.

It’s an issue people are often rather passionate about one way or the other, enough so to the fact that those against this policy managed to get advertising pulled from the event in two of the tournaments over the last ten years.  I’ve heard the arguments both ways, and I do understand why people stand where they do, on both sides.

Some of you less familiar might be wondering – how is this legal?  Well, unlike a restaurant or school, Augusta National does not run a for-profit business, and is not a for-profit golf course.  It is a private club, and like any other private institution, is allowed to do this.  Just as the girl scouts is granted the right to deny membership of males to its organisation, Augusta National is afforded the same right – though the primary distinction being that they own property that club members use, and the club exists mainly for the use of that property.

There is a primary misconception regarding this – women are actually allowed to play on this course as the guest of a member, and women have played this course.  If a woman golfer ever shows to be good enough to regularly play in the PGA, they easily could play in The Masters without any policy being violated.  However – they are not allowed to become members of the club.

As I said, I am ardently against sexism.  However – I don’t disagree that a private group that owns private land should be allowed to segregate in such a way… it’s not a business, it’s private people with private land.  It is akin to if I bought land and started a club that met there, and we had the choice of who does or doesn’t join.  I don’t disagree with the ability to do so.

What I disagree with – and this should be the real crux of the issue – is that they do have such a policy.  Yes, they are allowed to do this as a private organisation.  However – just because something is legal doesn’t make it morally correct.  Sexist jokes are allowed in our society – I still stand strongly against them.  The issue of whether or not Augusta is allowed to do this should not be brought up in any debate regarding it – what should be brought up is whether what they are doing is morally valid.

This is a golf course, not a club to discuss men’s issues.  The fact that they don’t allow women to join as members is at best quite backward, and at worst extremely sexist.  It is purely misogynistic and only reflects a general value of superiority based on gender held by its members.  No, it is not like the girl scouts in that sense – which seeks to nourish and provide a community for young women.  It has nothing in its charter, or its actions, that indicate in any way that this has anything to do with nourishing men and providing a closed haven for men to deal with male issues.  It’s purely sexist, and comes out of a purely misogynistic tradition that asserts that men are superior to women – just as men are supposed to be, according to our culture’s historical tradition, the “king of the castle” of their homes.  It’s a policy that comes out of a far more sexist age, and only exists in reflecting those values.  There is no established purpose whatsoever for this policy that would make any argument for it valid (and if it were a haven for men’s issues where they also happen to play golf, I’d feel differently).

On that alone, though it is not a PGA event – the PGA should not award points for performance in this tournament, and any golfer opposed to this policy should boycott the tournament for the very reason that the club that owns the course is sexist.  Just because they are allowed to do something doesn’t make it right that they do, and this should be the issue at the forefront – and moreso, how that reflects the values of our culture at large.

Personally, though, I say forget traditional golf – I’m all about full contact golf.  And yes, this exists.  Because I invented the rules.  It’s so awesome, seriously.