The Washington branch of the English-Speaking Union will hear from the distinguished diplomat Charles Yost next month at a luncheon that all members can attend except those who happen to be women. At the request of some members (none of them women, you can be sure) the club is returning to its policy of having an occasional men's-only lunch. I can only suppose that everyone will eat in the nude.
Now I myself would not want to attend such an event. I like to be around women and I do not like to eat in the nude since I am forever dropping things in my lap. I would, however, love to attend this event since I have never seen Mr. Charles Yost, the former ambassador to three countries and the United Nations, in the nude. In fact, I have never seen anyone give any sort of speech in the nude.
'now I cannot for the life of me understand why there has been such a resurgence of nude dining in the nation's capital, but that does seem to be the case. It has to be the explanation for a spate of affairs in which women are barred simply and only because they are not men. (It is on that basis, I must admit, that I have for years cherished them.) It cannot be that these men are afraid of women or that they are uncomfortable around women or, as the English-Speaking Union's executive director explained, that the men don't want to be seated next to "a boring old lady." It has to be this nude dining thing.
This is not my cup of tea, but I do understand some men do it. When I was a boy and we got together and banned girls, it was usually because we were going to take off our clothes. It is for this reason that I understood perfectly why there are no women in the Bohemian Club of California, a place in the woods where the men sometimes put on skits and dress up like girls. This used to be against the law in some states, but it is apparently not the case in California. Legal or not, if I were a member, I would not want a woman around to see it.
It also turns out that you cannot have women in this club because the men are given to relieving themselves against trees. This is pretty close to nudity and while not good for the tree, anyone would understand why these gentlemen do not want women around. One of them is the attorney general of the United States, William French Smith. If he wants to dress like a woman and make wee-wee on trees, I think this is his constitutional right and I think the ladies are wrong in wanting to join this club. William French Smith thus seen may be pretty strong stuff.
Recently, the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, attended a meeting of the Alfalfa Club. This club does not admit women and so Jimmy Carter would not attend. Ronald Reagan did and I can only suppose that he either told jokes or stripped naked and told some Hollywood stories or in some other way did something that he would not do in the presence of ladies. Otherwise, it would make no sense to exclude them.
Ronald Reagan and William (The Tree) Smith are fine, sensitive fellows. Surely they know that women have for generations and generations been treated as second-class citizens based on nothing more than their sex. This was the rankest and the cruelest discrimination and while it was awful in terms of what it did to people, it was also awful in what it did to the nation. It deprived it of half its brain power. You could probably make the argument that someone is now dying because someone else thought it right and proper to largely exclude half the population from medical schools. Maybe a cure was excluded also.
So it is inconceivable to me that the president and the attorney general and now, Charles Yost, are asking us to return to those days by setting an example which says that bigotry is all right, that it is just fine and dandy to exclude women or reject women or discriminate against women solely because they are women. It is time for them to set a better example. Either that, or get dressed.