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Feminist News


November-12-02

Interviews Reveal Position on Women at Augusta National Unchanged

In a media blitz, including a commentary and interviews with key newspapers, Augusta National chair Hootie Johnson staunchly defended and reasserted his position refusing to admit women into the clubs elite membership.

Despite statements made by prominent club members, including Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive of American Express; Citigroup chair Sanford Weill; and Lloyd Ward, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee and former president of Ford Motor Company, expressing their support for including women, Johnson insists there is no timeframe for altering the membership policy founded on the premise of friends, getting together and playing golf, and just being men, reported CNNSI.com.

In his commentary appearing in todays Wall Street Journal, Johnson charged that criticisms of sexism are ludicrous, since women regularly play the course, with no restrictionsexcept for their denied membership. (In addition, coed golf foursomes are prohibited.) When questioned by CNNSI about the clubs 1990 policy change admitting African-Americans into membership, Johnson stated that doing so was the right thing to do. Still, [t]heyre totally different, racial issues and gender issues, he told the New York Times.

Last month, Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Womens Organizations (NCWO), urged commissioner Tim Finchem to dissociate the PGA Tour from the Masters because of Augusta Nationals continued refusal to admit women into its membership. Finchem had earlier backed away from pressuring Augusta National, claiming that not being a co-sponsor of the Masters, the Tour could not force the club to adopt host club policy. However, Burk insists that by sanctioning an event that is held at a club that practices such blatant discrimination, the PGA is violating its own anti-discrimination policies.

The Feminist Majority is a member of NCWO, along with 160 other groupsmaking total membership close to seven million.

Media Resources: CNNSI.com 11/12/02; Wall Street Journal 11/12/02; NY Times 11/12/02