We all look forward to being back in person at our facilities. What will it take to re-open the club and / or what conditions need to exist to safely gather? Post ideas by using the “reply” button
I have just reread the material on how to write a paper for the per Ted’s suggestion that we all take another look. At one point it says, “The paper may tell a story if that is the best structure for it.” I would state that more strongly. Regardless of the subject, in my experience it is always best if you find a story in your material. Once you find that core story, it becomes your guide for what to put in, what to leave out and where to add detail, when to just sketch. It also provides a structure that keeps the paper moving forward – always a plus for your listeners. About the only place I can think of an exception is when the paper is a collection of verse. Thoughts? Rich L
Submitted by Anthony Covatta
May was a watershed month for the Literary Club, with two differing electoral events, the first appearing to put to rest longstanding questions on a bedrock club tradition, the second jettisoning an ancient tradition, leading to multiple resignations of senior members and casting the Club’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas in doubt.
I was ambivalent on the woman issue and offer these remarks as a dispassionate observer, a long term member and past president with a brief for neither side. My concern is the Club, not any ideological position.
The sense of the Club votes on four modes of dealing with the issue of women’s relationships with the Club went off without a hitch (after months, even years of fevered debate). The votes made it clear that a strong majority opposed female membership and lesser majorities opposed women as guests on a regular or special basis, while a final majority voted for inviting women to special events to be designed by the BOM. As this writer remarked at the close of the meeting, this gave a clear picture of Club sentiment and put to rest the long simmering debate. It was a result that all could accept, and as appeared from remarks after the meeting, it appeared that all did. Certainly the main proponents of the pro-women movement did. And with good grace and without a murmur even if they were disappointed.
But the victors for whatever reason did not accept their victory. At the Annual Elections last week the long standing tradition of treating the VP as President-Elect was deliberately ignored, and the officers who had been most strident in defense of the status quo were elected to the highest offices. All attempts to mollify the situation by this writer were shot down. It seemed as if a desire to punish those holding unorthodox opinions held sway. This has not been the tradition of the Club heretofore. Indeed, on several prior occasions where feathers had been ruffled in the electoral process, measures were immediately taken to bring the Club together and salve the hurt of the offended member. Perhaps we can no longer do that under the new rules.
But something should and must be done for the good of the Club. I am sure uncivil things were said by both sides. But all need to take a deep breath and reconsider positions. The election has been held and the new officers are or soon will be in place. While there was overt electioneering by one side ( not by the pro-fems) nothing forbids that. It’s a pity, but one can do as one wishes. Nevertheless, I call on the new officers to affirm that the Club remains dedicated to the free exchange of ideas without ungentlemanly name calling and retribution. Further, that they will dedicate themselves to leading by example. And I call on each of us to regard those who disagree with us without rancor or fear. It is a shame that we have driven valuable members out of the Club who accepted the results of the prior poll on women, but could not accept the hostile fear engendered remarks and behavior that followed.
Let’s back down before the Club is hurt more. The Club will remain exclusively male. Will it become again a haven for brotherly exchange of ideas?
Here are four options from the Board of Management in response to Tom Bennett’s motion at our last business meeting, as a way of expressing your interest. The Board of Management does not endorse any of these options.
1. Should the Club admit women as full members?
2. Should women be allowed as guests of any member at any meeting?
3. Should women be allowed as guests of readers, with prior notice to members?
4. Should women be invited to special events arranged by the Board of Management?
This vote will be by secret ballot at the May 5th Business meeting. You will be given a ballot then.
There will be no discussion of the options at that meeting. The issue involved has been discussed at length at a previous meeting, on our Website Blog, privately among yourselves, and can be discussed at our April 7th Business Meeting. I doubt that we will change anyone’s mind on May 5th.
Regular and Honorary Members are the only authorized voters and must be present to vote. Associate members are unable to vote. That would require a Constitutional amendment, and there is no provision in the Constitution for proxy voting so voters will receive one ballot at the meeting.
I encourage you to take advantage of our Website Blog to discuss you views, opinions, and suggestions. You can also email me directly with questions.
January 25, 2014
Dear Fellow Literarian:
Now that the vote on the revised Constitution, Bylaws and Customs has taken place, a few of us would like you to know of some additional discussions that occurred within the Board of Management during the process of readying the various revisions. These discussions regarded the topic of women and the Literary Club; they were the cause of two special meetings of the Board. (This letter was prepared last spring, at the time of those discussions. Albert Pyle, then the club president, asked that we not send it until the vote had taken place.)
We believe these discussions were meaningful, and we want to share with you their major themes. To be candid: The five of us believe that finding some way to allow women into the Club – even as guests – could be a positive development and is the course we should pursue. We will state why shortly.
At the same time, others on the Board disagree. They feel strongly that allowing women in under any circumstances – as guests, let alone as members – would irreparably damage the character of a cherished institution.
Those making the case for women (as members) argue that:
(a) The Club’s literary offerings would improve because we would be drawing on one-half the population now off limits. If the mission of the club is to be the best literary gathering we can be, then cutting ourselves off from the many vital, intelligent, literate and accomplished women who might be interested in membership is hurtful to our own best interests.
(b) In 2014, filtering candidates for a “literary” club by gender is simply out of step with the times. Increasingly, the practice will make the club less attractive to qualified male candidates.
(c) We call ourselves “The Literary Club” with the implication that we serve all of Cincinnati. Currently, however, we are the Literary Club of only half of Cincinnati. If we called ourselves something else, or thought of ourselves less as “The Literary Club” than as a men’s club, then excluding one sex would make sense. All-male and all-female clubs definitely have a place, e.g., The Women’s Club (headquartered in Clifton) and Gyro (a men’s fraternal organization drawing on the region). We don’t believe The Literary Club, with its aspirations to fine prose and eloquence, is in the same category.
Those objecting to the introduction of women to the Club (in any form) do so on grounds that:
(a) They do not want to see the current character of the Club altered. They believe, validly, that having women present at our meetings would notably alter the chemistry of what now occurs.
(b) They are concerned that bringing up the issue in any serious way – say, proposing a vote – could be so divisive as to have a permanently damaging impact on the current good fellowship of our gatherings.
(c) There are not, to our knowledge, people criticizing the Club for discrimination, nor are there groups of women who have shown that obtaining access to the Club is of any real interest to them.
The discussions in the BOM were calm and respectful of one another’s points of view. Ultimately, however, Albert Pyle felt the antipathy to women in the Club – in any form – is so intense on the part of some that to bring it up in any formal way before the membership as a whole could, indeed, be divisive – and to no productive end. Each of us respected Albert’s decision.
So why are we writing this letter? Each of us believes deeply that the Literary Club must change over time or it will marginalize itself as a vital institution. Already, it is not easy to find enough qualified men to maintain our membership at full strength; it is currently at under 90 percent. That deficit imperils both the richness of our literary bench strength and our future as an important part of our town.
More than that, we feel that all of you deserve to know how we feel – that the issue deserves to be aired to at least that degree. While we don’t intend to take any additional steps, we do suspect that a general understanding of our convictions could be the catalyst for conversations on this topic amongst the membership. And if that is so, we believe it could be a good thing.
Paul Franz, Bill Friedlander, Polk Laffoon, Albert Pyle, Allan Winkler