John Leo
So far I've avoided writing about the great golf flap at Augusta National because it seems so trivial and idiotic. Michel Martin on ABC's "This Week" complained vehemently about "back of the bus" treatment, meaning that it is a grave civil rights violation that females can't be full-fledged members at the club.

This is the conventional way the mainstream media discuss the issue: Feminist Martha Burk's fight to force admission of a few hyper-rich women into a hyper-rich private club equals Rosa Parks. A trivial playtime problem for a few vastly overprivileged females equals the 400-year oppression of blacks. I think not. (And I believe Tiger Woods thinks not as well.) But The New York Times, overcome by the deep injustice of it all, is giving the story Watergate-style coverage day after day. Male sportswriters, assigning themselves a high moral perch, thunder against Augusta whenever they can.

As usual, discussion on the Internet is more candid and varied. Here is Jane Galt, a bright, young Web logger unknown to me until last week: "Arguing that only women have the right of free association, but men must sacrifice theirs ... is not advancing the cause of equality. ... If integrating the Augusta National is a major item on the feminist agenda, then stick a fork in the movement: It's done. We've achieved our goals and should disband."

Indignation about single-sex institutions is indeed selective. There are single-sex colleges, health clubs and Scout groups, and a women's golf tour that excludes men (though women are eligible for the men's tour). You do not see the press lords at The New York Times growing purple-faced because Wellesley College or the Ladies' Golf Club of Toronto won't allow males.

Here in New York, the previously all-male Century Club now accepts women, but nobody is trying to integrate the Century's all-female counterpart, the Cosmopolitan Club. Female sportswriters are allowed into male locker rooms, where they routinely interview naked males. But there is no attempt to let male sportswriters into female locker rooms, though presumably many of these writers would be willing to interview the unclad Anna Kournikova.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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