Well done to the members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers who yesterday voted to continue with their male-only admissions policy, a decision which has led to them losing the right to stage future British Open Golf Championships at their course, Muirfield. I say this not because I have a pathological hatred of women golfers, but rather, as somebody thrilled by the Muirfield golfers’ tiny act of defiance against the God of Equality and Sameness Everywhere (Except Mosques). And, as a believer in the principle that freedom of association trumps the right to always feel included. For the fact is that Muirfield’s decision, despite what grievance-mongers might say, affects precisely nobody – the overwhelming majority of golf clubs (over 99 per cent) already accept women members. If a woman wants to play golf she can.
Personally, I would rather apply an industrial sander to those parts of my anatomy which identify me as male than join a male-only golf club (only a mild exaggeration), and it’s quite possible that I wouldn’t even particularly like many of those who voted against the change (so what?). But neither do I believe that many of those carping on about the injustice of it all would ever actually want to be members of this (or any) golf club – it’s all just part of the never-ending search for victimhood and for targets at which to hurl self-righteous contempt. Indeed, why would anybody want to join a club that didn’t want to have ‘their kind’ as members (in a humourless inversion of that old Groucho Marx line)? An image leaps to mind of some militant feminist, all crew-cut and big earrings, sitting at a table in the club-house, wedged awkwardly between two surly men in Pringle sweaters silently nursing their pints of Indian Pale Ale. The woman is bellowing, “I AM WOMAN. I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE AND YOU DON’T WANT ME HERE! BUT BE HERE I MUST” Her eyes scan the surroundings, noting for future reference the lack of trans-gendered toilet facilities. And then she is gone, her work done, free to never think about golf ever again.
But, more importantly, Muirfield’s decision tips a nod to the reality that there are some differences between men and women and their respective wants, suggesting that it is perhaps not entirely unreasonable that a small part of our lives be demarcated to cater to those differences, where, for a short time, we might be in the company of our own sex. There are, of course, a great many men and women who do not wish for this mono-gendered space, and, as such, there are thousands of mixed golf courses to cater for them.
Those outraged by Muirfield’s decision would have us believe that it was borne of dislike or disrespect for women. In which case, is it not actually good to have these people separated from the wider golfing ‘community’, self-segregated, hacking away on their own patch? And why would any woman ever want to be in the midst of such a crowd? The more likely explanation for the vote, however, is that it is a mixture of an admirable bloody-mindedness, and the fact that, as suggested above, some men feel that they tend to have more in common with other men and, as such, they like to spend periods of time in the company of said men.
Perhaps male-only company (and female-only company) offers a different, less formal, social dynamic. Is this such a radical notion? Apparently it is, for there has been much wailing and reciting of that facile incantation: “This is the twenty-first century” (I suppose a blood-soaked Josef Stalin could have turned round and said, “Hey, this is the twentieth century. Get with it!”). “This is 2016”, said Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, before going on, “Scotland has women leaders in every walk of life, in politics, in law, in business and everywhere else. I think this decision is wrong”. The suggestion being that even in the private social sphere there should be some sort of gender quota. Golfer Thomas Bjorn lamented, “Muirfield couldn’t join us in the 21st century”. Because in the twenty-first century the ways in which we choose to associate with others are being prescribed in ever narrower ways.
In truth, Muirfield represents that one group whose identity is an abomination, its own assertion an act of aggression in itself: the white male. To self-delineate that identity in anyway, or to even exhibit a degree of group-pride, is bigotry, revolting to all right-thinking liberals. I respect Muirfield for attempting to not be brow-beaten into conformity and expect it to cave-in and reverse its decision promptly.