By Carolyn Hahn

The New York Times hadn’t yet arrived when the cat woke me up at 7 the other morning, so I checked out the paper online, clicking on the first article title that hit my groggy eyes: “A Cozy Spot to Eat After Golf, But Out of Bounds to Women.” In this day and age, I thought?

Yes, in this day and age, says veteran New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer;

“When the men of the Phoenix Country Club saw their feeding ways were in peril, they did not tarry, “ Steinhauer reports. “Some sent nasty e-mail messages, hectored players on the fairway, and for good measure, urinated on a fellow member’s pecan tree.”

“The targets of their ire were the women , and some men, who have dared  to speak up about the club’s policy of forbidding women in the men’s grill room, a center of power dining in Phoenix” she continues.  A “petite, quiet woman with an elegant white bob,” age 72, remarked that things were not nice—men “hooting and hollering,” calling each other’s (elderly) wives whores, defacing each others lockers, pissing on the aforementioned pecan tree.

So far, so good—actually, why would anyone want to hang out with these jerks, I’m thinking. But I understand the point—women members are treated worse even than non-member males, the off-limits-to-women grill room is a prestigious place to seal a manly Phoenix business deal,  over the drink that is not offered in the squalid room the women are relegated to, etc..

“As teenage boys saunter into the sumptuously appointed men’s grill room, their mothers are relegated to the ladies’ grill down the hall with a hot plate, some card tables and no bar.” The club, we are told, also has a formal dining room, where anyone is welcome, but it’s closed between meals and you can’t get a drink there. So back to the  “ladies’” room:

“The ladies grill is a very small room where a bunch of little old ladies gather to play cards, “ says Wanda Diethelm, a health care executive. “And if you want to make any noise, they shush you.”

At this point, I did a little spit take: “A bunch of little old ladies…”—so not only is it the men against the women, it’s women against women? Though the “petite, quiet” 72 year old with the elegant white bob is presumably not one of the “little old ladies” shushing people—not very elegant of them.

Whatever. It bugged me that in what turned out to be a front page Times article (OK, below the fold, but still…) would so casually make it clear that the worst fate is still to be stuck with the company of older women, possibly even to turn into one. “Petite.” “Elegant, “white haired bob” yes. The term “little old ladies”—why not just call us “hook nosed Jews,” and get it over with? And what chunk of self-hatred makes it even more painful coming from women?

Carolyn Hahn has written for the New York Times,  NPR’s Morning Edition, The Village Voice, Salon and elsewhere. She lives in NYC with her husband and two badly behaved cats. Both she and her husband look forward to being elegant 72 year olds with white bobs.

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  • Carolyn Hahn July 7, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Ha! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one.

  • Beverly Schwartz July 5, 2008 at 10:28 am

    I had exactly the same reaction to this article, i.e., who would want to eat with these jerks, but it’s the principle of the thing … and then … “little old ladies”? What?

  • Beverly Schwartz July 5, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I had exactly the same response to that article, i.e, who would want to be in the company of these jerks, but it’s the principle of the thing … and then… little old ladies? What?