The Century Club in Manhattan is a throwback to the romantic days of yore, when men of arts and letters would gather in private wood-paneled rooms next to roaring fires to discuss the intellectual issues of the day. Like how inferior women are! The Century itself started admitting women in 1988, thanks to a court order, but now the woman-issue has reared its pretty little head once again.

This time, as the New York Times so deliciously reports, the issue is The Century's "reciprocity agreement" with a similarly fancy club in London called the Garrick, allowing members of both clubs to visit both clubhouses. Problem: the Garrick only allows gals in when they're accompanied by a man. Now, we don't want to "have the debate" on the rightness or wrongness of that policy here, because we're sure there are good arguments for it that we don't know about, issues, the potential embarrassments of hysterical spontaneous period-having, whatnot and etc. The point is that some people at The Century want to sever ties with the Garrick, while others do not; but both sides can agree to be as snooty as possible at all times. Speeches! Treatises! Citations of historic literary figures! Who are these members who wanted to preserve the alliance with a bastion of sexist idiocy? Old white men who feel that equal rights for women is something that we don't want to rush:

In a letter signed by 46 members, including Mr. Lipsky of The New York Sun; Mitchel Levitasof The New York Times, a former editor of the Book Review; and Richard L. Feigen, the art dealer, they pleaded for respectful restraint. Even as they underscored their own embrace of women's equality, they called the Garrick an "irreplaceable human achievement" and asked members to take "the long view" - "give our overseas friends time to learn."

But did they use any variation of the "I have lots of black friends" argument? You bet!

Fans of the Garrick grumbled that politically correct Centurions were waging "cultural imperialism," by trying to bully the English club into changing its policy. "I have been on the barricades of feminism and civil rights," a male member said, "but I don't believe in forcing them to do something they may be slower to do."

They voted to end the reciprocity agreement after all. Sure are a lot of dickheads in that club, though.

[NYT. Photo: NYC Architecture]