Sexual discrimination: The grouchy clubs

In the US, Augusta National has relaxed its famously sexist rules by a smidgen. Some establishments here have yet to even do that, an irate Harriet Walker reports

News just in from the 18th century: women admitted into fusty crap club. Actually, that happened only yesterday, when former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore were granted membership of the notoriously exclusive Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. It was one small step for man, one giant leap for womankind.

Or was it? The stipulations required to join the club – beyond simply having a penis – are vague at best, and these two fragrant additions to the green-jacketed stiffs are exceptions to the antediluvian rule rather than the dawning of a new era.

The Augusta National has not re-considered its "no women" policy so much as extended hospitality to two individuals of the female persuasion that it feels are most like men. You don't apply for membership there – you're invited by the existing members, and while the exact fees are not known, they're rumoured to in the region of five figures.

It just so happens that members haven't much fancied having a woman about the place until now and that most people in possession of that much money are – you guessed it – men.

"This is a new and positive time in our club's history," its chairman Billy Payne said this week. "I wanted to take the opportunity to welcome them… into the Augusta National family." Well, excuse me, Bill, but a family without a woman in it sounds like a family that might one day die out.

One of Britain's last outposts of arcane sexism, the Marylebone Cricket Club – owners of Lord's – extended a welcome to women in 1998 – thoughtful of them, seeing as, under the previous rules, even its patron The Queen wouldn't have been allowed into the Long Room bar for cigars and whiff-whiff.

But the practice abides in many private establishments – snooty clubs such as White's (where members once bet £3,000 on which raindrop would reach the windowsill first), the Garrick and Boodle's continue to bar their doors to women. Are they worried we'll make a mess on the carpet? Or that our harpyish shrieks will echo through their joyless halls, as we cavort like trollops at the bingo?

When Magdalene College, Cambridge, first admitted women in 1988, male students wore black armbands in protest, flew the flag at half-mast and carried a coffin through the quad. They're even more hysterical than we are, these blokes. Those cheeky bastions would do well to take a leaf out of the New Cavendish Club's book. Originally established for women in 1920, it accepted male members in 1959 in a forward-thinking spirit of inclusivity.

But clubs such as Pratt's and Savage seem intent on living up to their names. And the Flyfishers Club, too, although that's a moot point, given that no women would want to join anyway.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?