Personal Voices: Martha's Masters

The Masters teed off yesterday in Augusta, Georgia. Ever since Tiger entered the scene, it's hard to find someone who isn't a golf fan in this world but somehow I managed to stay in the minority. Speaking of minorities, the Augusta National Golf Club still clings to its 1950s policy of not letting women join its precious little club. And when women are being barred from the golf course, that means Martha Burk is coming to a microphone near you.

Last year, Burk tried to bust out the 9-iron on that decades-old policy and was tumbled under an avalanche of bad press and Leno monologue jokes. This year, she has commandeered the help of someone else who wouldn't be admitted to Augusta -- Johnnie Cochran -- to argue her case. A little tip for you, Martha: If you're trying to get public support behind you, having Johnnie Cochran on your side is not the way to go.

When you "find yourself in the thick of it," Martha Burk's cause is on par with speaking up to give a handful of wealthy women the opportunity to play a few rounds of golf. Of course, discrimination is wrong, and Augusta's policies are an outdated relic of the past. However, for the week leading up to the Masters (perhaps Burk should put changing the tournament's name on her action item agenda) and the four days of the match, Burk and her fight get top billing while other plights facing the majority of women in the U.S. get the backseat.

It all seems like misplaced energy, especially given the administration's poor track record on women's rights. A woman's right to choose, after the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and the ban on partial-birth abortion, is on its weakest legs since prior to Roe v. Wade. Domestic violence is on the rise in every community, especially Latino America. Unemployment is affecting everyone, but with the rise of single parent households, it is especially tough on women who head those households. Women are the fastest growing U.S. population affected by HIV and AIDS, which has become the leading cause of death among African-American women aged 16-24.

Not one of these issues has received the press attention that Martha Burk has over the last two years. If Burk really wants to have an impact, really wants to make the world a better place for future generations of women, perhaps she should champion a cause in which it doesn't matter how good your short game is.

Greg Joseph is a regular contributor to AlterNet.

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