Monday, August 20, 2012

Not much has changed

We are back from four heavenly days on the boat.  It did rain and storm, but only for a fraction of the time. The rest was restful and filled with swimming, beach walking, reading, sleeping and eating.  Once again, I am transformed when I get away on the boat.  I sleep well and can clear my mind of everything. I didn't even get on the iPad much.  Life just floats by, like the tide, when I am on the boat.

By Sunday, we had eaten most all of the really healthy food.  We pulled the anchor and headed to a picnic that was being held at one of the local yacht clubs.  The place is pretty nice, not fancy, but it has a great new pier where we were able to tie up.  We sat under the oak trees watching the thunderheads move in, knowing that there was going to be a severe storm about the time the picnic started. We weren't disappointed as rain came down in sheets, forcing everyone to move inside.

As I was walking around the dining room, I couldn't help but notice photos of the Commodores.  All were white men in navy jackets.  Later, a group of us were talking, and a couple of people were asking about membership.  My wife asked why there were no women Commodores.  Another lady said, "Well, only men can be members.  Ladies can be part of the Ladies Auxiliary." And forget the idea that there were any African-Americans allowed to be members.  I just don't get this form of exclusivity.  I know that if you have a private club, you can apparently do as you please.  But it still takes be aback that in this day and age, white men still seem to think that they are the most important and have to guard their position.  Fear or ego?

I did a bit of digging and found this from 1957 in which a question was posed as to whether women should be allowed as full members of the US Power Squadron:

Mayor of Hamilton, Bermuda, owner of the cutter Undina
Yes. Many women can handle a sailing yacht as well as men. They are expert helmsmen and they are handy with the sails, even in heavy weather. Women are also useful in the galley, serving cocktails and tidying up. Besides, it's always nice to have the pleasure of a lady's company on board.

Co-owner of cruiser Frelousan, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
No. Most women who like boating don't want to crash the membership of the U.S. Power Squadrons. They feel there are times when men should get away from their wives for an occasional healthy vacation. I hope the men won't give in to the few militant women on this issue.

U.S. Consul at Nassau, Bahamas
Only on an amendment to the constitution of the U.S. Power Squadrons which now limits membership to males. Women are active in almost everything. They serve as WAVES in the Navy and SPARs in the Coast Guard, but they do not go to sea. Perhaps women should compete with men.

Owner of the Enchantress
Nassau, Bahamas
No. The majority of the members in the U.S. Power Squadrons are opposed to women members. Sure, the men like to get away from their wives, but they know that most women are poor seamen. The Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club admitted women for one year, then threw them out.

General Manager British Colonial Hotel
Nassau, Bahamas
Today women are contenders in all sports. Few men do a better job on my boat Argus than my wife, Edna, when it comes to handling sheets or taking the wheel. The Power Squadrons are saying: "What's left for the men?" My answer is: "We still have the women. God bless them."

Owner of the cruiser Golden Fleece, Miami
Absolutely not. There are some things men can do better than women. Boating is one of them. How many women could take a cruise from New York to Nassau? The one who can is a very rare exception. No woman will seriously argue. So why should women be members of the Power Squadrons?

New York, Stockbroker and railroad director
Women should have full membership. They are more careful than men in handling power cars or boats. Anything an intelligent woman sets her mind to she can do. Cleopatra controlled Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. She could also captain a trireme as skillfully as any navigator.

Commodore Nassau Yacht Club
If the Power Squadrons don't want them, no. The English Royal Yacht Squadron and the Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club don't allow women members. The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club only recently capitulated for their annex. Few women are qualified to take a boat out in any weather.

Who sailed the 23-foot Felicity Ann across the Atlantic alone
There is no compelling reason why they should be admitted and there's no point in trying to compete with the men. If you look on the Power Squadrons as a Naval reserve for war, do we women really want to get into it? Frankly, all the men I know who sail, sail much better than I do.

Owner of the yacht  Serendip, New York City
Yes. My wife took the course sponsored by the North River Power Squadron in New York and finished second with an average of 99%. Once, when the skipper and I were green to the gills, she took charge. The Power Squadrons are always ready to help the Coast Guard. Why not a women's division?

It is an awakening to me to know that there were a few enlightened people around back then, but to realize how little things have changed in some arenas still takes me aback.  Equality may be what is law, but separatism and segregation is still alive and well.  Some days I want to apologize for being a white male.


  1. That was really interesting. My granddaddy was a member of the Power Squadron. I bet he would not have thought women should join.
    Tidying up and serving cocktails? Ha! That's hilarious!

    Don't feel bad. Sometimes I want to apologize just for being white. I understand.

  2. Nope no apology needed from you or any other white male is you do not thrive according to racial and gender/orientation stereotypes. One can not be called racist/classist/sexist and make it so. The only things that makes those labels accurate are the actions of one to whom they are being applied to.

    I don't owe anyone an apology but what I do owe is my action towards full and free civil and human rights for all.

    Not to mention looking at that picture I doubt women would want into that old boys club. Most females I know have a better sense of fashion than everyone dressing in the same outfit.

  3. Your boat time sounds heavenly. I think we could all use some boat time on a regular basis. :)

  4. There is a little island off Toronto which was my father's family home. There, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club was a very posh bastion of Toronto's first families and they famously did not admit Jews, either as members or guests. The Jewish sailors of Toronto subsequently opened a club on Toronto Island twice as posh as the RCYC, much to the pride of the doctors, lawyers and bankers who comprise their membership. The Island Yacht Club is the lovliest club on the lake, and they have a lot more fun too.

    Our club had a woman Commodore back in the 80's, but it seems less likely now than ever, like we have regressed.

    When I was first mate on Laurance and Mary Rockefeller's Hinckley 49 "Evening Star" one perennial guest told me the same joke each visit. Something about the 3 shortest books ever written, the last of which was "Niggers I Met While Yachting." I declined his many invitations to join his party for dinner as I feared his reaction when he met my black yacht racing husband.


  5. Good timing...Agusta National Golf Club added its first woman members today. Progress not perfection.

  6. i agree with actions will speak louder than my gender hopefully...smiles...

  7. Beautiful photograph Syd, the first one! Nature is awesome x

  8. Privilege and prejudice Syd -- as irrational as ever. We have that too, private clubs for yacht-owners or pilots that don't allow women, gays, blacks or Jewish people as members.

  9. Thanks for this post. I have noticed lately the role of oppression that women project onto other women.
    It's more troubling for me to read the woman who spoke of keeping women out... I just keep showing up for myself hoping to be more mindful in my life.

    In sociology and psychology, internalized oppression is the manner in which an oppressed group comes to use against itself the methods of the oppressor. For example, sometimes members of marginalized groups hold an oppressive view toward their own group, or start to believe in negative stereotypes.

  10. It is interesting to see opinions then and now.

  11. Oh Syd, you should not be apologizing for white men. That's silly.

    I noticed that mostly women said "no," and mostly men said "yes." Interesting.

  12. I'm glad you had a great time away on the boat with C. My mother was a WAVE in the Navy back in 1956. My mom assisted in party planning for the Pentagon. Today my niece serves in the Navy on board a ship stationed in the Persian Gulf. Huge change between times.

  13. I think the men in the picture are just a sign of that time. It seems incongruous today, because much has changed. I grew up an Army brat, and even in the 50's there were women soldiers coming over to our house all the time. I remember one was a champion marksman on the traveling Army team my dad was on. She was the only woman on the team, but I don't remember the men making a big deal out of it.

  14. Sadly, Lou, they reflect the policy right up to the present. Still no women are allowed as members today.

  15. Hello dear Syd! I've been away for a while. Thought I would pop in to say hi. Love the photo of the ocean... those colors! It amazes and sadens me how a lot of things have not changed for the better in some areas...


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