Why do male golfers hate women? A few days ago, Kenya’s Limuru Country Club expelled three female golfers for opposing a new a rule denying women a voice and a vote in the general assembly – and then speaking about it to the media!
It doesn’t matter what the status of the three women are, but it makes a point to explain who they are. There is Central Depository and Settlements Corporation Chief Executive Rose Mambo, businesswoman Martha Vincent and molecular epidemiologist, Dr Caroline Ngugi.
In other words, they are among the most educated and professional women in the world. Before you ask in which cave the Men of Power at the Limuru Country Club live, it will do well to note that many golf clubs in the world don’t allow women as members.
It was only last year that the otherwise vaunted Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia, in the US voted to allow its first women members. Bear Creek Golf Club in Colorado, like another 20 or so clubs in America, still doesn’t allow women to play. Some golf clubs in the US are so extreme, they will not even permit a wife to drive into the parking lot and drop off her husband.
In countries like the US, you could almost be sure that golf courses that locked out women, also didn’t allow African-Americans to step there; as Augusta and Bear Creek did.
In the UK, for nearly 170 years the prestigious St Andrews Golf Club did not admit women as members.
It is understandable that golf clubs did not admit women in the backward past when they were considered second-class citizens. But it is extremely unusual that a sports club can vote in 2013 to roll the clock back 100 years as Limuru has done.
This is particularly galling because in Africa, in the early colonial era, many golf clubs did not allow “natives” to be members or to play – they could only serve at the club bar, mow the green, and be subservient caddies. At a wider level, they were part of the same prejudices that excluded Jews and the Irish from such places in the past.
There is more to this sport-misogyny, I think, than just the old boys wanting to hang out in smoke-filled rooms and cut business and political deals without women nearby hearing them and going to “gossip” about it, as they would say. Nor is it because female golfers wearing low-cut tops could distract them. The women – and men – of golf all play almost fully covered up. Golf is not beach volleyball.
There is the usual discrimination at play here, no doubt. Also, I have heard feminists argue that this anti-women behaviour of men is some kind of castration complex.
My suspicion though is that the fact that golfers walk off beating and looking for a small white ball on fairways with forests and water puddles on the edges, transports men to the Medieval Age when they were hunter-gatherers and the women stayed home waiting for them to return with the day’s kill. Thus golf offers the blokes a sweet connection with their ancient primitive selves.
However, the progress of women in the world – with very many now richer and out-studying and out-graduating men in many countries – sport is going to be the final battle ground.
Not too many people question the fact men and women play separately in nearly ALL professional sports – in athletics, football, basketball, motorsport, volleyball, tennis (at least it has mixed doubles), swimming, gymnastics, boxing, name it.
One of these days a male “traitor” or some feminist group calling itself the Pussycat Army, will ask that most subversive of questions; “Why?”
So, the feminists say, some of us guys have a castration complex. Imagine then, for example, that you opened up boxing and allowed men and women to fight against each other. And in a famous heavyweight clash, a female boxer knocks out the man in the first round to take the world heavyweight-boxing crown. The blow to the collective masculinity of the men of the world would be devastating.
So I am not surprised that you have a Limuru Country Club voting to kick out women. The boys are closing the stables before the horses bolt. Still, the idea that women can be presidents, lead some of the richest companies in the world, fight in wars, go into outer space, and of course be mothers, but can’t be allowed to hit a little ball with a crooked metal club is preposterous.
What puzzles me is that there isn’t a lot of outrage over the action of the Limuru Country Club. Consider what might happen elsewhere in Kenya. For example, the Nairobi Gymkhana Club is one of the oldest clubs
in the city, and home to one of its most famous cricket grounds. Sixty years ago it was largely an Asian club, and Nairobi was still a city where Africans were locked out of whites-only establishments.
Imagine then that today, the Gymkhana decided that no black Kenyans could be members. Or the Exchange Bar at The Stanley Hotel decided that no “native” should step there. There would riots in Nairobi. But Limuru Country Club can go back to this past, and get away with it. Kenyan women would be right to be very afraid.
*Follow the author at twitter@cobbo3