Cult Power, by Martha Burk, introduces readers to the fight to make women members of the Augusta National Golf Club. What is so hard about that decision, you ask? Nothing. All it would take is a simple change in the bylaws, I suspect. Reading further, though, it is not as clear cut as it looks.
For Martha Burk and her followers, this is a case of gender discrimination, period. After all, since women are allowed to play at Augusta National, why not allow them to be members? This golf club would not discriminate on any other basis.
A letter was quickly sent to William "Hootie" Johnson, the club's president. It would be his decision as to whether or not the change would be made. The letter itself has been reprinted in this book. It's well written, with clear arguments for change. The premise was that Augusta National would not want to be seen as behind the times.
What Burk didn't know at the time is that Hootie Johnson was one of those men who still thought a woman's place was in the kitchen. Who does she think she is, Johnson thought, trying to horn in on "our" social club?
News got out quickly about this issue. It even made its way into the White House. Helen Thomas, the "Dean" of the Press Corps, remembered when women were barred from being members of the National Press Club and brought up this new controversy in a White House press conference.
Whether or not one agrees with Burk or with Johnson, this book is an interesting study in discrimination and a fascinating read.