Opening British Open to women shows today's feminism misplaced
October 17, 2005 —
This past week, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club amended its rules to allow females to attempt to qualify for the British Open, the oldest of the golf majors. The chief executive for the Club was "delighted that a qualification route has now been established for the best women players to gain access to the championship."
Many will view changes to the British Open qualifying as another blow against a traditionally patriarchic society, especially in the last holdout against feminism in modern culture: sports. Few will recognize what this change really represents: the death of a society where men have equal rights as women, all in the name of "fairness."
The roots of feminism are admirable - women should be accorded the same rights as men. It was unfortunate that so many intelligent women were relegated to tasks below their abilities, solely because of their gender. However, somewhere between demanding equal pay for equal work and today, the goals of feminism were displaced on an altar that deifies misandry.
The goal of early feminists was to create a level playing field where females could compete with males in the work environment. Most people would agree that traditional gender barriers have been breached - one needs to only look at the demographics of SVSU to witness this, where almost 63 percent of the campus population is female. If women are given the tools to compete on a level playing field in society, what else should society do?
Women should have every opportunity that males have to succeed in society. But does this axiom give women the impunity to violate males' rights? Like everything in life, a woman's rights end the moment a male's rights are infringed upon.
I'm realistic - even in the best year, no more than 5 percent of the British Open's field will be comprised of women. And if only one British Open tournament existed, I would argue that more women should be included in the tournament.
But there are two British Opens - the (previously all-male) British Open, and the Women's British Open. How can it possibly be fair for a woman athlete to qualify for the (male) Open, and then go on and compete in the Women's Open? Is it fair for a woman to compete in two major tournaments of the same branch, which will ultimately prevent several men from participating in even one tournament?
It's a shame that the Royal & Ancient Golf Club is amending its rules in the name of "fairness." The Club is not attempting to act in the interest of fairness; they are simply trying to piggybank off of one marketable star - Michelle Wie.
It strikes me as more than coincidental that the Club's announcement came on the same day as Wie's pro debut. The British Open is not interested in an abstract, altruistic ideal of "fairness," they are simply trying to cash in on the 16-year-old phenom's marketability both in the United States and abroad.
I find it ironic that feminists have leeched on to corporate America, the same sector that once did their best to keep women in subservient roles. Corporate America has no agenda other than the almighty dollar - a principle they will quite literally take to the bank. The 2003 trial run of Annika Sorenstam in the Colonial proved that the novelty of having a woman compete against men would generate higher television ratings; before missing the cut, Sorenstam generated record viewership numbers on the Friday of the tournament.
What does all this mean? It now appears that the calculus of allowing women to golf in the British Open follows as thus: allowing women to play with men equals higher television ratings, which equals higher advertising revenue, which equals a higher profit margin for television stations, which equals more pressure on golf administrators from the forces of television. To simplify, allowing women to golf with men equals dynamic pressure on the forces of golf to change - change that may not be in golf's best interests.
Dynamic changes to golf may result in a Pyrrhic victory for the sport. Flashy changes, which garner temporary gains in viewership today, could erode the traditional fan base for tomorrow (remember the glowing puck on NHL on Fox), once the novelty of women in men's golf wears off. Part of golf's appeal lies with its timeless quality; yes, the woods have been replaced by titanium drivers, but is there another sport where you can feasibly compare the best player of our era to the best player of a previous era? If you were trying to compare Barry Bonds to Hank Aaron in baseball, you would undoubtedly have to include Bonds's inscrutable use of "flaxseed oil."
Golf fans should be leery of feministic goals; likewise, feminism should be leery of television's goals. Both groups may be irreparably harmed when corporate and sociopolitical interests inextricably intertwine.