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Augusta National's Chairman Bill Payne

Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM

It’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Jezebel just did a piece on Boston University’s sexual assault problem, highlighting a stream of violence that has been going on with some attention paid to it, but little being done to stop it. Moroccans are protesting around the death of sixteen year old Moroccan teen Amina Filali who killed herself after being forced to marry her rapist.

Shaima Alawadi, the Iraqi woman living in California was killed in what was either domestic violence or a hate crime. The mother and teacher Melissa Jenkins was lured to a remote spot in Vermont and killed by a couple in front of her toddler son.

It has been a tradition for IBM CEOs to be given a membership to Augusta National Golf Club where the Masters are held and now for the first time in history, the CEO is a woman and quite possibly will be denied the membership because it’s a men only club.

So, what’s the connection between all the violence and the Masters Golf Tournament?

In my post yesterday, I wrote about how the Augusta National Golf Club, which holds the Masters Golf Tournament, may not allow Virginia Rometty, IBM CEO in, though IBM and the Masters have a long-standing relationship and it is tradition to grant a membership to IBM’s CEO. If she doesn’t get it, which it doesn’t look like she will, it will be because of her gender.

Argument: it’s a male club, they don’t have to let women in. No, they don’t. But it’s a club that includes men from the most powerful corporations in America.

What happens when women are left out? When there is a table, but not only is she not offered a seat, she can’t even see the table because it’s behind closed doors.

It allows and encourages men to make decisions without women involved.

Remember Darrell Issa’s committee to talk about “religious freedom,” which turned out to be code for: access to birth control/contraception. It didn’t include a single woman.

Look at Amina al-Filali, the moroccan teen who killed herself (or was killed) when forced to marry her rapist. When women are not at the table, laws about them are created and often those laws often do not uphold women as people who can make choice about themselves and their bodies. How is there a law that allows for a girl who has been raped to be married off to her rapist?

When women are left out, it reinforces the notion that women can’t and don’t make decisions in the world. It reinforces the notion that women are second class citizens, that they aren’t the ones who weigh in on decisions being made, much less the makers of those decisions.

When women are not seen as capable of making their own decisions, they are seen as feebleminded, as objects, as inhuman.

When women aren’t seen as fully human or are seen as objects with less worth than men, they are treated as such. This may include mistreatment like insults. An example of this might be when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute for saying women want access to contraception for medical reasons. Women are more easily silenced when they are seen as less-than. Rush Limbaugh went on to say he wanted to see her sex tape, suggesting women are for men’s sexual pleasure. This is promoting women as sexual objects.

There is often a progressive escalation in perpetrators’ inappropriate behavior that leads to violence. The victims may be different so they may not recognize the behavior.

This means that a perpetrator may begin with the belief that women are inferior. Then he may harass a woman on the street or otherwise. He may put down women in his life. He may grab a woman’s butt or push a woman. He may then push himself onto a woman or keep pushing her to go out with him or to have sex with him. He may rape her. He may kill a woman.

Sound extreme? Sometimes the progression doesn’t go past the insults, but still when  this happens, women are silenced and not full participating members of the society. Half the population doesn’t have a voice about what’s happening in the world. Half the population isn’t being included and this is dangerous.

It all stems from inequality, like at the Augusta National Golf Club.

It’s day one at the Masters. There is still time to make a change. Look at all the women who have died because of inequality.

The question: Can you break into the Masters’ Club using the Master’s tools?

Answer: Probably not, but the Augusta Nationals Club is bound to become less and less elite as more women are in power and not allowed to be members.

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