A Few Private New York Clubs Still Bar Women

And no one seems very upset about it

One of the academics who works with the society, Joyce Goodfriend, a professor of history at the University of Denver, doesn't, in fact, sound very up-in-arms at all: "The values of the late 19th century, when they were founded, were pretty patriarchal, obviously," she says. "I accept them because, historically, their origins are valid. Whether they are ever going to broaden their membership or not, that's not up to me. But I'm clearly in support of women, especially having started my career in the 1970s. I really have no issue with them, or them maintaining their historical traditions." Two other women who are research fellows (but not members) at the Society, Firth Fabend and Ruth Piwonka, also shared the sentiment that the policy was "no big deal."

Susan Van Dyne, chair of the Study of Women and Gender program at the all-women's Smith College in Massachusetts, doesn't actually sound very upset, either: "I think that because women have broken through most of the glass ceilings set for them, and that men have to work with women together in the workplace every day, there is probably some remaining wish that there can be a place where boys can still get together, uninhibitedly," she says. "It's a place for men to be completely uncensored, and that's probably the goal of keeping things all-male. It's tradition. It just shows you how difficult it is to reconfigure cultural expectations. . . . I, like many women, am sort of momentarily annoyed, but then you realize it's not the most important issue, so we just get over it and move on, which probably does create a state of complacency in fighting for gender equality."

Voorhees puts it more bluntly: "This is a safe space where men can go. It's a lot better than men going to a whorehouse."

The Brook's emblem—is that a beaver with an X through it?
The Brook's emblem—is that a beaver with an X through it?

ajeffries@villagevoice.com

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