Choosing the right causes

Ronda Rich's picture

This is an open letter to Billy Payne, who succeeds Hootie Johnson as president and chairman of Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.:

First, congratulations. Second, if feminist troublemaker Martha Burk comes a-calling repeatedly to cajole, threaten or demand that women be allowed to join the club, stand your ground as firmly as Mr. Johnson did. (Note to everyone else: This loud-mouthed feminist has a male attorney. Interesting, huh?)

Please tell her something for me and the strong, progressive Southern or non-Southern women like me.

Tell her this:

We welcome any decent, enthusiastic, well-placed advocacy for women. In fact, we need it. But, honestly, we’ve got bigger, more wide-spread problems than obtaining the right to join a high-falutin’ golf club.

Tell her to take on the cause of seeing that female representation is on the board of every corporation in America. After all, women make or influence 80 percent of all buying decisions so we should be represented on boards that have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders and consumers.

Tell her to begin with banks, both small and large, and make certain that female small-business owners, single women mortgage- and credit-card-holders are represented appropriately in the selection of board directors.

It is insulting to think of the many banks that yammer for women’s business, yet pack their boards with men to issue loan decisions and develop products to fit our unique needs, especially the needs of single-income women and female entrepreneurs.

Tell her that far back in the deep hollows of the Appalachians, live women who have no indoor plumbing, education or idea that a better life could exist for them. They have settled for a life that they believe is the best they’ll find because they haven’t been exposed to a bigger, broader outside world.

They need strong female mentors who can teach and lead them out of a repressed existence. They do not need the right to have a membership in America’s most elite golf club.

Tell her there is a generation of women out there, my mother included, who have passed up careers and nice retirement funds to stay home and raise their families. They put stock in family, not stock in a portfolio. Their reward for producing good citizens is a meager Social Security check that barely covers expenses. They need help in paying fuel bills, not help in joining Augusta National.

Tell her that if she absolutely must take on a sports giant for the publicity value that her ego must demand, she should take on NASCAR.

After all, if a woman is going to compete successfully in a professional male-dominated sport, stock car racing is the place for it to happen. It’s already proven that the best female golfer can’t hit as far as the guys but an agile, well-conditioned woman can compete in a car against the men.

Yet, NASCAR has not used its muscle to ascertain that a woman was put behind the wheel of one of the sport’s best race cars.

With a snap of the fingers, NASCAR could call on one of its aggressive championship team owners like Joe Gibbs, Jack Roush, Rick Hendrick or Richard Childress to put a woman in the best car possible with the best crew in the business and it would be done. No more half-hearted, half-funded efforts for the girls.

That’s a cause that can be won while making great strides for women. And, it will give her all the publicity she needs.

Finally, if she has any problem with any of that, tell her to call me.

login to post comments | Ronda Rich's blog