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Private Clubs and Women

July 04, 1988

In his commentary George F. Will decries what he sees as merely an "intramural rough-housing in the ruling class, a battle between two briefcase brigades." Will asserts that the civil-rights laws are being exploited by the New York City Council's anti-discrimination ruling in favor of women Will considers already "rich," and whose desire for greater economic power Will deems worthy only of "guffaws."

Although Will's arguments make sense superficially, on a deeper level they represent tactics often employed by "ruling class" members in order to divide women among themselves. I disagree with Will's judgment that "American reformers" do not "talk the language of class." Given American democratic traditions, working-class origins can be a badge of honor--especially when one has risen above them. By grouping with the rich and powerful, aspiring businesswomen of whatever class origin, Will himself is exploiting American egalitarian impulse, and he is doing so on behalf of patriarchal powers. Thoughtful people realize that gender does constitute a status at least as handicapping as that of class. Moreover, changing one's class status is far easier than changing one's sex.

Certainly not all women are equally fervent in furthering egalitarian ideals, but, fortunately, women today do realize that it is in the interests of all women that at the least some women gain entry where the powerful congregate.

FRANCE MORROW

Huntington Beach

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