A Green-Jacket Ceiling?

Photograph by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The 1st round of the 76th Masters golf tournament April 5, 2012 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

The White House today injected itself into the fight over membership at a golf club in Georgia, saying wildly successful and affluent women should be allowed to join — the same as any wildly successful and affluent man who might be invited.

It’s not just any club though, it’s Augusta National. Home of the Masters tournament that teed off this morning: Amen Corner, azaleas, Rae’s Creek, green jackets. The iconic American golf course, a work of art painted across 18 verdant holes.

It’s a private club.

And it doesn’t admit women.

So thus Augusta finds itself this year as every year both at the center of the sports world and as a metaphor for the glass ceiling itself. It’s a tension between the struggle for equal access for all and the rights of the individual to do as he, and in this case only he, pleases.

And the day before the White House convenes a conference on women and the economy, no less an authority than the president of the United States, himself an avid golfer, weighed in. Obama’s “personal opinion is that women should be admitted to the club,” said Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, when asked at a briefing today.

While the comment stands on its own, it’s also the latest in a series of incidents in recent weeks on women, women’s rights and which political party best aligns with (and should expect support from) female voters. There was the row over Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke and birth control, that itself stemmed from a congressional committee hearing on birth control wherein the entire first panel was comprised of men. Before that, Susan G. Komen ignited a firestorm over Planned Parenthood state laws on what exactly needs to be done before a woman can have an abortion. And now today, the political twitterati find themselves engaged in a passionte did-he-or-didn’t-he spat about the chairman of the Republican National Committee and caterpillars.

Into that fray went the presidential aspirants. Here stands Obama. And just as surely, there went Mitt Romney. Asked by ABC News at a campaign stop in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, if women should be allowed as members at the home of the Masters, Romney replied that they should.

“Certainly if I were a member, if I could run Augusta, which isn’t likely to happen, of course I’d have women into Augusta,” Romney said.

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