General Etiquette > Family and Children

Dear Abby 2/4/14 - Men's Only Club

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This is regarding today's first letter:

Basically, a man has started two clubs within a 55+ retirement community, one that meets regularly for breakfast and one that meets twice monthly in the evenings at the members' homes.  The clubs are "men only" with the organizer declaring "no skirts allowed." Meaning that the lady of the house is expected to prepare snacks and clean the house, then vacate as soon as the meeting starts.

The LW says the organizer has "bamboozled" the members and practices a lot of control over them. ETA: Anything said in the meetings is "confidential," he tells them. When someone suggested meeting in a coffee shop for the evening meetings, to prevent ousting a wife from her home in the evenings, the organizer objected that meeting at home provided a more "intimate" setting.  The LW's husband enjoys the group, but feels bad for the way the wives are treated.

Abby suggested that the wives stop preparing food/cleaning for meetings where they are not welcome, which I DEFINITELY agree with.  If these guys are adult enough to host in their homes, they're adult enough to prepare for it.  The other suggestion was that the LW's husband just join the group breakfasts, since that made him less uncomfortable.

I thought this made an interesting counterpoint to the ladies Bunco discussion the other night, in that the organizer of the club is demanding that the wives leave the house, rather than just avoid interaction with the club while home. 

Also, I would wonder what sort of club activities require my husband to be alone in a house with a bunch of other men that requires an "intimate setting" and "confidentiality" warnings.  (Frankly I would be more worried about this self-styled Sven Gali trying to set vulnerable seniors up for bad investments than anything Scrabble-related.  But that would be on my list, too.)

This is a relationship decision amongst each couple. These are adults. The organizer can't bamboozle the men if they aren't wanting to participate. The organizer can't insist the wives prepare for the event. If the men are uncomfortable with asking their wives to leave the home for a couple if evenings a month or the wife doesn't want to, they shouldn't have joined the group. I personally think the husband in this story is blaming the organizer.

It wouldn't occur to me the guy is trying to swindle or encourage bad behavior.

Since I was the one who started the Bunco thread I feel compelled to voice my opinion. I think the difference here is that the husbands are making two demands, neither of which I find reasonable.
1. Wife has to prepare snacks and clean the house.
2. She has to leave the house as opposed to just going into another room to let them have their privacy.

As far as #1 goes, though, how does the club organizer dictate this? I mean, isn't that just between the husband and wife in each case? If hubby asks wife to prepare snacks, then she can do it or just say no. Surely Mr. Club Organizer isn't coming into each house and holding a gun to these wives' heads while demanding they do his bidding.

Of course, #2 does hit closer to home regarding the issue at Bunco. I don't see anything wrong at all with the husbands saying, we want to have our meeting with no wives around but demanding she leave the house as opposed to just going into another room if that's what she wants to do is where this ventures into the realm of unreasonable.

While I would not make snacks and leave, this is a older generation where that might be more common. However, that comes down to each couple's relationship. The wives have a say and apparently they've agreed to this system. So basically, if it works for them, it's no one else's business.

I also don't think there's anything wrong with asking the wife. However I think making her vacate the premises is a bit much. But again, if it works for them, it's no one else's business.

Finally, to me, "bamboozle" means to trick/swindle someone. I can't see how the organizer is tricking anyone. I think he's been refreshingly upfront about his strange demands. If the organizer and others like this system, it's a little rude for the LW's husband to try and change it.  If he doesn't like it, he's free to quit the club and just maintain the friendships on his own. If the LW doesn't like make meals and getting kicked out, she can simply refuse. Problem solved.

All that said, I think this all sounds a little immature. Like a Backyard Clubhouse for Seniors - no girls allowed and everything's super secret.  ::)

I have to wonder if the LW just doesn't like the organizer, because I just can't see what the problem is with having a men's only club. When my neighborhood started a women's only Bunco group years ago, the men had to take the kids and get out of the house. The men responded by starting a monthly poker night and joined each other for Monday Night Football. This was 15 years ago and we've since moved to another state, and we remain close friends with these people today. *

The fact that the organizer sounds like a jerk is beside the point. Maybe his wife likes to prepare snacks and make sure the house is tidy because it makes her feel useful. Other wives don't. Maybe he is a chauvinist, but that doesn't mean that guys wanting to have some "guy time" are as well.

* on the topic of preparing snacks! I do remember one of the Bunco/Poker wives complaining that she had to clean and cook for her husband's party. We laughed and told her to make him do it himself. I think my husband a a few other guys ended up setting him straight.


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