Girls in the Boys' Club

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching recently, tossing and turning at night, you know, trying to work out where I stand on the girls-in-the-boys'-club issue.

All right, all right, give over already. I know most of you read right through me. So what if I've always known where I stand on it? The real issue for me has been whether I should be dumb enough to write about it. Evidently, I should.

As all men know, there's no real upside to arguing with women, because even when we win, we lose something, or at best end up paying more than retail. I achieved the terminal stupidity required to write this when She Who Must Be Obeyed (who has the right to remain silent, but not the ability) told me I should go ahead and scribble down that which she told me I was right to believe in.

I love that woman enough to end a sentence with a preposition. She does all the heavy lifting in my life, so it was fitting that she came to this conclusion for me. You see, for a while now, I have been polling my female friends (all of whom, uh, like, have a life). I wanted their opinion on the matter, and so far I haven't been able to find a single woman who would object to a group of men having their own club.

All right, so the married ones might feel a little different, but no matter what anyone says, this is about a single principle, not a single club. Nor is it about black or white, Jew or Gentile. It's about X and Y chromosomes and a missing rib, which makes it a different matter entirely. It's sex, man, and the undeniable truth that while opposites attract, they're still opposites. There may be a thin line between love and hate, but there's a stripe the width of Texas between a man and a woman, and in this case it's even wider.

Regarding the moral matter, She Who Must Be Obeyed says the case against me closes with a bang right there, as I'm a self-confessed immoral swine. But even I know I can't get away with the simple truth like that. I'm led to believe that at the crux of the problem, a lot of insider business stuff is going on in those clubhouses to which women are not allowed access.

Well, it occurs to me that there's a lot of business stuff going on in boardrooms too, and women don't have access to some of those, either. Some they do, and some they don't. Some golf clubs they do, and some golf clubs they don't. (Please, please don't tell me I'm the only one that's noticed this; I couldn't stand to be that damned clever.)

But there's that nasty little word, "moral." I hate that word. Remember the Moral Majority? The lovely and talented Reverend Jerry Falwell and his merry band of better-than-the-rest-of-us blowhards? Like the principal antagonist in this debate, Reverend Falwell's uncommonly high sense of morality proved to be the perfect antidote to common sense, which is the nemesis of every narrow-minded person.

For real-world feminists, who thankfully tend to concentrate on serious issues like equal pay and domestic abuse, it's better to shut up, let the militants amuse themselves with trivialities, and hope they do as little damage as possible. At this point I think it's important that we males remember that the majority of women would love for us to be so successful that we might become a member of one of these clubs. (And it's equally important to remember that most of us never will.)

Let me reassure every American that theirs is not the only country whose people are sometimes deafened by overzealous, self-righteous trumpeting. Having returned from the Ryder Cup, it seems to me that the British are just as susceptible to the occasional attack of blinding stupidity from out of left field.

At the moment, a debate is raging over the future of hunting with dogs, in which a small minority of city-dwelling, animal-rights activists has succeeded in convincing, with skewed logic and misinformation, the horribly chinless and liberal members of the ruling Labour party to ban the practice. These are people who visit the countryside only on weekends in their Suburban Assault Vehicles, wear nasty pullovers crocheted out of their own armpit hair, and whose objective is to protect the cute little foxes (which are about as endangered as the Queen of England's corgis) from those nasty country folk on horseback with their packs of baying hounds. "Tally ho! Toodle Pip! Chin-Chin old boy, lovely day for a snifter, what?"

You get the picture. They're idiots too, but the fact is, they do no harm whatsoever, unless you're a fox. And if you are, and you're cunning enough to be reading this, you ought to be able to escape from a bunch of smelly canines and a posse of tweedy old duffers whose mode of transport is the most neurotic animal on the planet, shouldn't you? But here's the kicker, which has the real-world animal lovers in a schizoid tizzy: If these city-dwelling animal-rights activists get their way, for every fox saved, one healthy horse will have to be shot, and three dogs will go to the pound. In this case, for "go to the pound," read "shot," because at the pound these dogs are invariably held in cages marked: "This is Basil, a flea-ridden 3-year-old nutless lurcher who has all his shots and the temperament of a hairy piranha. He's an irrepressible howler, not particularly brilliant around old people, and even with constant training, he'll mark his territory in your laundry basket and hump the living daylights out of the nearest small child."

Not surprisingly, these dogs can be a little difficult to shift. You see, they're bred to hunt and nothing else. They won't sniff the arse of the poodle next door; they'll tear it off and bury it for later. The Nigels claim they have the support of 72 percent of the population -- a number, if indeed true, leaves me wondering if any of those polled were supplied with the less-than-pretty facts.

For genuine animal-rights folk, this is clearly not a good situation. On one hand, it's sort of awkward for them to support a pastime in which fuzzy little foxes are being torn apart by packs of woofing mad canines; on the other, the whole dog and horse firing-squad thing makes them squeamish, too -- although I think they blindfold the horses (or maybe that's steeplechasing). But you know it makes them wonder if complaining about the problem was a good idea in the first place, as ultimately it would seem that the actions of the lunatics on the fringes of their organizations would do a great deal more harm than good. Sound familiar? Thought so.

The real aftermath of this appallingly pretentious stand by high-minded women on what is supposed to be the moral high ground is the impression left that they are in the majority. I don't believe it for a moment.

Still, fair play for those who want to fight for what they think is their just reward, which in this case is access to worse bridge partners. As Patton once said: "That is all."

I think I understand why most women don't want to be bothered with this pointless debate, but the thing that really jerks me around is the way most of us men have taken the virtual fifth, as if there was something to be ashamed about. Any man who refuses to be bullied and is willing to speak up in defense of the only female-free territory we have left is a hero to me.

Why have so few of us stood up to have our nuts counted here? Talk about being emasculated. Television is filled with women demonstrating their intellectual and moral superiority over their male partners and friends. There isn't a night of sitcoms that goes by without some hapless guy getting a slap upside the head or a kick in the pants from his daughter, girlfriend, wife, or the gay guy. He always takes it like a man, too, which these days seems to be lying down. Turn it the other way and there would be an outcry from the estrogen police. Commercials regularly portray the male of the species as stupid or misinformed, yet those of us with any sense never complain about it either.

If you ask me, the fact that we're comfortable with our misinformed stupid selves, or at least the fact that women think of us in that way, is a credit to us. If you find our shortcomings funny, rather than crying foul, we'll laugh along with you. The legendary anthropologist Margaret Mead was something of an expert on our species, a visionary who once said that male-only clubs served a useful purpose.

She was right. So I wonder which modern-day television show she would consider to be doing more of a disservice to women: A golf tournament or "The Bachelor"?

I think I know the answer, but just to be sure, I'm going to check with the wife.

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