How female golfers could learn from Greece’s 411BC Woody Allen; Aristophanes.
As we approach The 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon, the focus will be on the world’s greatest golfers doing battle for the claret jug. My focus though will be on the archaic mindset of the members at golf clubs like Muirfield and Troon.
This week, with shades of an EU/ Brexit vote, and with the golfing world’s spotlight aimed firmly at Royal Troon, Muirfield announced last week it wanted to hold a fresh ballot, in the hope it would overturn the vote in May and the ban on women. The R&A told Muirfield it would not stage another Open Championship as a result. Clearly common sense has prevailed, the club officials have sobered up or the club treasurer has looked at the balance sheet without The Open and the millions they’ll miss out on. The club needed a two thirds majority when it held its initial ballot in May. 64% voted in favour of allowing women members, meaning changes couldn’t be implemented.
At the time (in May) there was a sudden rush of righteous indignation. The First Minister was quick to tweet ‘Scotland has women leaders in every walk of life. It is 2016. This is simply indefensible.’
George Kerevan, SNP MP for East Lothian, said: ‘I’m outraged by the decision of minority at Muirfield Golf Club to block admitting female members. Sad for golf, equality, democracy.’
BBC Five Live were aghast, many observations pointed to the usual cliché regarding which century they were living in. Others spoke in a haughty nature about male chauvinism. Radio 4 were traumatised, this meant they wouldn’t be able to host The Open? It was sporting suicide!
There was a tone of indignation as if their behaviour was despicable, contemptuous and unusual. I say to all who jumped aboard the PC bandwagon that you are the ones with your head in the sand.
It may be 2016 but throughout most golf clubs in Scotland they will sit down and mock those taking the moral high ground. This kind of behaviour may seem beyond reproach but sadly it’s a fair reflection of where Scotland really is compared to where it thinks it is.
This isn’t a shock to me. Despite Scotland thinking it’s a diverse, open and a right on nation it isn’t. For many, this vote represents and reflects the reality. The true face of the bowling club, the golf club, the allotment society. Any club with half wits in charge, this type of situation always arises. They seem to assume to adopt some farcical far right KKK neo Nazi persona once they receive a car park space.
Membership to the ‘club’ is about keeping people in their place. It’s about exclusion. Some posh, bored old Tories and No voters on the wind up. They are clearly still hurting at Alex Salmond’s high profile no-show at Muirfield’s 2013 Open in protest at their refusal to admitting female members. (Of course this would have nothing to do with a strategic move by the then FM to gain some kudos and respect from the female demographic who could never take to him).
We’re all familiar with the headline news that Scotland as a nation is getting its equality right and we applaud any attempts to drag ourselves into the 21st century. In the real world, away from spin and PR where it’s more harsh, try being Polish, Syrian or from Somalia and wonder where that kind, friendly, caring and compassionate society had gone from the brochure? From those belligerent bus drivers and train ticket inspectors at High Street who act like The Sweeney and whose idea of customer service is to challenge and antagonise. The reality is the same from bottom to the top. This is a small, petty, bigoted nation determined for centuries to keep people in their place.
Of course the vote means Muirfield would lose out on The Open. These guys don’t care about the Open. Forget the millions it would bring into the area and the golf club, they are so elitist they’d rather not have the world’s eyes upon them. Perish the thought that it may interrupt their monthly medal or worse still, bring in their worst enemy, Joe or Josephine Bloggs rambling through their fairways. They’d say they aren’t elitist, they are traditionalists.
The R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers: ‘We have consistently said it is a matter for the Honourable Company to conduct a review of its membership policy and that we would await their decision. The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and going forward we will not stage the Championship at a venue that does not admit women as members. Given the schedule for staging The Open, it would be some years before Muirfield would have been considered to host the Championship again. If the policy at the club should change, we would reconsider Muirfield as a venue in future.’
The Honourable company of Edinburgh Golfers reputation maybe besmirched, but this type of person (50- 75, white, racist, bigot, misogynist company director, small penis) loves that. Power and control. Know your place.
OK, I hear you ask, what’s the solution? How do we solve the problem? We laugh in the face of it, that’s what we do. We parody them.
Here’s one that immediately springs to mind. That really original (sarcasm) scene from Downfall when the Fuhrer, as that’s never been used before has it? The scene as he is losing it in the bunker? See what I did there, the Fuhrer is actually losing the plot in the bunker- as in sand trap? The subtitles explain that Adolf is the club captain and going mental at his underlings because he doesn’t want women members. That’s hilarious isn’t it? No. I agree. Another parody of Downfall deserves a life time ban.
Which brings us, with a literary quantum leap, to the point and to Aristophanes. He was basically the Greek Woody Allen. A comedy playwright. The forefather of comedy, even older than Ken Dodd. For years I’ve been trying to adopt many of his comedic devices and plots and transplant them into a modern milieu.
In one of his surviving plays, Lysistrata, a bawdy anti-war comedy dated around 411BC, well before Up Pompeii and Frankie Howerd and all the Carry On Movies; one of his clever plots may come in useful.
Lysistrata, is a cool Athenian woman who is sick of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. She calls a meeting with women from all the towns and cities across Greece. Then she tells them her idea. They will all withhold sexual privileges, no matter how carnal their urges from their men folk, to force them to bring an end to the war. Lysistrata’s idea worked, withholding nookie forces them to negotiate peace. It’s genius. Now if the women of East Lothian who dream of joining their men in the clubhouse are reading, try it. Tell them straight, there’ll be no nookie until we’re allowed in.