In My Opinion
by Caroline Porter

Hootie And The Blowhards

Oh, what fun we have in this country. The Brits are chuckling and snorting at us as usual, and who can blame them? The traditional Masters golf tournament held at Augusta Country Club in Georgia is mired in a battle of the sexes and of sections of the U.S.A. If your head has been in the sand, I'll explain that a national women's coalition is complaining about the fact that Augusta Country Club excludes women from membership and the women want advertisers to boycott the television airing, club board members to change policy and Tiger Wood to drop out of the tournament. Oh, sure.

Leading the counterattack of this southern golf club is the president, William ''Hootie'' Johnson. This traditional Southern guy is outraged. He's made it very clear - no band of female, emasculating, Northeastern women are going to make him or his club do anything. Never underestimate the power of Augusta Country Club. Hootie has eliminated commercials from the televised Masters tournament, so the regular advertisers won't have to be involved. Tiger Woods says there is nothing he can do about women's membership. The women have gotten nowhere.

Andy Rooney of ''60 Minutes'' said last week, ''I would think these women's organizations would have more important issues on their agenda than membership to prestigious golf clubs.'' I couldn't agree more.

At a time when women are earning 73 cents to every dollar of a man's income, when women are being abused and murdered by spouses and boyfriends at an alarming rate, when women are losing their jobs (along with their male counterparts), worried about bills, child care, facing homelessness. At a time when family health care is prohibitive and/or inaccessible, when right wing bigots are still fighting family planning because they don't want women to have freedom of choice - about anything. The whole abortion issue has little to do with a great concern for the unborn fetus and everything to do with a woman's right to make her own life decisions. Birth control, giving women new freedom, and respecting women as human beings, are the issues here.

So - yes, women have more important issues upon which to spend resources. And, no, I really don't care if women can join the Augusta Country Club - or any other private club. In fact, I've often dreamed of starting a women's club - not the garden variety, but a club with a building containing a dining room, bar, exercise equipment, swimming pool, comfortable living rooms, recreation and meeting rooms, where women could go by themselves and not have to deal with the tension of having men around. A place where a woman could go without everyone assuming she is ''available'' and ''looking.'' Kind of like the Union Club in Chicago - Galesburg style.

Hootie, you old Southern male chauvinist, this Northern feminist is on your side - this time.

Caroline Porter is a freelance writer from Galesburg who can be reached at Read more columns online at

Uploaded to The Zephyr website November 27, 2002

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