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Golf in a Burka

I hadn’t thought that women were particularly dangerous golfers. Could that be the reason that the Augusta National Golf club refuses to take down its “No Women Allowed” sign? I wonder what the male members of the club are afraid of. Could they be thinking that women are too sexually distracting to play with or even in the proximity of men? Perhaps if women wore Burkas and covered themselves from head to toe — and I respect those who wear them — male golfers would feel less threatened. But then again, Burkas would create a terrible golf handicap. It’s hard to take a swing when your arms are restricted by the equivalent of a walking sleeping bag. It’s even harder to see around corners, or even straight ahead, when you’re confined to slits of light no bigger than a peep hole. But Burkas would protect male golfers from being exposed to bare armed, bare ankled and bare faced women. On second thought, wearing them could be quite dangerous for women. How could they dodge a bad shot from another golfer? Male golfers could be at risk as well. What if a burka-clad woman were mistaken for a tree? Suddenly, a shot comes from nowhere. No time to duck. Maybe it’s female competition they’re afraid of. Not too likely, since women play in women’s tournaments and men play in men’s tournaments, just like boys and girls bathrooms. No one goes in the other door, except by mistake. Maybe it’s the IDEA of having women on what has traditionally been male turf that is so upsetting. It seems that men, after all, can get emotional about that. You can’t play with us. It’s our game and we’re going to keep it that way. The fear of male and female golfers mingling — yes, mingling — may go back to the hunter-gatherer days. We hunt and gather, you cook and clean. A golf club may be a dangerous weapon, as Tiger Woods discovered when his wife attacked him with one, but I have not yet heard of a deer being killed by a golf club, even during hunting season in Vermont. It could be that women are denied admission to this exclusive club — even when they are the female CEO of IBM and, one of the sponsors of the Masters tournament — because they might blush at dirty jokes or disapprove of foul language. I for one, have not seen a woman blush in some time. The good news is that Barack Obama and all the past and present Republican Presidential candidates, including Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, are in favor of opening the Augusta gates to women. What does that mean? It could mean that if the Augusta National Golf Club is afraid of letting women in, the Presidential candidates are afraid of keeping them out. Hmm. Women may be powerful, after all.

Madeleine M. Kunin is the author of The New Feminist Agenda, and

Pearls, Politics and Power.

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