Saturday, June 28, 2008

SPORT/COMMENT: Sexism and golf in John McCain's home state ...

Talk about gender exclusion! The New York Times reports on June 28 of a golf club in Phoenix which excludes persons who happen not to have a penis and two testicles from dining at its grill room. Indeed, women aren't even allowed to join their husbands for a meal there, even if their husbands are members.

And it seems this golf club isn't the only one. There's the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia (where the US Masters is held) that bars women from holding membership. And you thought the Lebanese Moslems Association was bad.

Back in Phoenix, there has been some resistance from Country Club members to the Club's exclusion policy. I mean, why shouldn't women be allowed to enjoy a piece of meat after shooting some balls?

OK, I admit that was lame. Still, it isn't as lame as the response of the Club.

When the men of the Phoenix Country Club saw their feeding ways in peril,
they did not tarry. Some sent nasty e-mail messages, hectored players on the
fairway and, for good measure, urinated on a fellow club member’s pecan

The targets of their ire were the women, and some men, who have dared to
speak up against the club’s policy of forbidding women in the men’s grill room,
a center of power dining in Phoenix.
Barbara Van Sittert, one of those women,
said her husband, Logan, 73, has been heckled while playing golf and once found
his locker defaced.

“They hooted and hollered at him and called his wife a whore,” said Mrs.
Van Sittert, 72, a petite, quiet woman with an elegant white bob. “It was not
warm and fuzzy.”

Quite. The wierd thing is that Arizona isn't exactly a huge men's club. Women hold powerful positions in John McCain's home state.

But here in Arizona, where the governor, secretary of state, chief justice
and Senate minority leader are women, it has rankled more than a few women that
nonmember men have more rights than paying female members at the Phoenix Country
Club, a century-old fixture in the city’s social and business life where it
costs tens of thousands of dollars a year to belong.

Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, is not a member of the club, but Dennis Burke, her
chief of staff, is. Mr. Burke has publicly opposed the separated dining rooms,
and in an interview called them “indefensible.” Senator
, Republican of Arizona, does not belong to the club but has spoken
there. (The McCain presidential campaign declined to comment on the separate
dining rooms.) According to a 2007 club directory, Mr. McCain’s son, Andrew, is
a member, along with scores of other notable Phoenix residents, including the
rocker Alice Cooper.

Alice Cooper playing golf? That's almost as awful a thought as him singing! Still, it is for charity.

Some members have complained and taken some kind of legal action. Indeed, one couple ...

... filed a complaint with the civil rights division of the Arizona
attorney general’s office, arguing that although the club is private and not
inherently subject to the state’s antidiscrimination laws, it is the equivalent
of a public accommodation because it receives much of its revenue from
nonmembers, in speeches, tournaments, Rotary Club meetings and the like.

And the outcome of this complaint?

Earlier this month, the attorney general’s office agreed with the couple,
issuing an advisory legal opinion that the club needed to comply with the
state’s antidiscrimination laws.

The office’s investigation, according to a copy of its findings, noted the
inadequacy of the women’s facility, while listing the lopsided benefits of the
men’s: three high-definition televisions, a buffet and a bar, and gorgeous views
of the course. (The office would not comment; parties in a civil rights
determination have 30 days to work out their differences privately.)

Apparently these decisions aren't binding. So this matter may reach the courts. I'd love to act as a lawyer for one of these wealthy parties!

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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UPDATE: Stuff published elsewhere ...

Apart from the op-ed published in the Canberra Times on 28 July 2008, there was some comment about the whole issue (or rather, non-issue) of polygamy in The Age here.

When it comes to racism, some conservatives just don't get it. You can about an incident in the United Kingdom related to this theme published in that wonderful website New Matilda here.

And what is it about human beings and pigeon holes? Check out the comments attached to the version of this article republished by the wonderful folk at Online Opinion here.

UPDATE I: Keysar Trad provides this response in a letter to The Age ...

IRFAN Yusuf's article "Just how many people are behind the polygamy push?" (Comment & Debate, 27/6) is plainly wrong on many counts. It would have
taken a simple phone call to prove that Islamic Friendship Association members
are not all "Trads".

Unfortunately, I have become used to the defeatist response that if you cannot counter the argument, you attack the person presenting it. This shooting of the messenger does nothing to address real social issues, which in this case are not just Muslim issues, but issues of perhaps a third of society engaging in plural relationships.

Who is behind the "the polygamy push"? There is no push. There is an opinion, which I expressed, that my faith can offer a solution to people who find themselves in plural relationships. I have repeatedly stated that we have no interest in making any representations to the Federal Government to decriminalise the actions of people who take the responsibility for such relations.

Keysar Trad, Islamic Friendship Association of

Who is this "we", Keysar? And where is the evidence that a third of Australian society engages in what you describe as "plural relationships"? And in what sense is it a personal attack to argue that your views are not representative of mainstream Muslim opinion in Australia? Or that your association has no right to present itself as speaking in any representative capacity?

And how long must we wait before we see the Islamic Friendship Association having a spokesperson other than Keysar Trad? I won't be holding my breath ...

UPDATE II: Someone from an internet forum posted this response ...

"Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association (whose members, I suspect, share the same surname and hold dinner meetings each night in the same home)"
well skewered

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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