Debra J. Saunders
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Sonoma State sociology professor Peter Phillips attended the retreat in 1994. The club was the subject of his doctoral dissertation. He told me that he met a lot of "ordinary rich guys" and "some very important people." Some men kept coming back to the same camps every year to discuss intimate issues -- their prostates, wives -- in an atmosphere analogous to a men's group.

Phillips also saw and heard a lot of networking. "They're very clearly talking politics and business constantly." _No weaving spiders? "I proved the opposite, quite clearly. I heard conversations about business. 'If GE comes in on the deal, we can get the Japanese to join' -- three men walking down a trail together."

Note to Mr. Hearst: I believe in the right to free association. I do not want the government to encroach on men's right to socialize among themselves, or force men to share gyms, bathrooms and poker games with women and shutter fraternities.

The Bohemian Club has a right to exist. California courts have upheld the club's right to exclude female members, but ordered it to hire female staff at the club and at the grove's food facilities.

I also believe in free speech, but that doesn't mean I would say things I believe others have the right to say. I do not believe the Bohemian Club is a social/theater/music club -- although I believe the former member who told me that's what the club's emphasis used to be.

Now I buy Phillips' summation -- that the retreat presents powerful "men celebrating their male eliteness, which is kind of how the world works."

The male-only bastion's discriminatory polices hurt women trying to compete in business and politics -- and everyone in politics knows it.

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Debra J. Saunders


 
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