By Tim Binnall
The notoriously secretive club of power brokers known as Bohemian Grove is the subject of renewed criticism concerning the group's all-male membership policy. Established in 1878, the annual summer gathering in the wilderness of Monte Rio, California has played host to all manner of wealthy and elite individuals over the years, including former presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. In recent times, the group has become the subject of considerable speculation among conspiracy theorists due to both the clandestine nature of the organization as well as the powerful people who are a part of it.
Beyond the possibility that members of the group are plotting the course of world events, Bohemian Grove's controversial status as a 'gentleman's club' is being criticized once again by politicians who oversee the campground where the gatherings are held. At a hearing of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors last week, board members reportedly raised issue with a longstanding agreement in which the group pays local sheriffs to provide security at the all-male retreat. Supervisor Shirlee Zane expressed concern that by working with the group, "we’re basically consenting to gender discrimination."
As such, the contract between the organization and the county has been tabled until lawyers can look it over for any legal issues which might arise. In an effort to open a dialogue with the tight-lipped group, supervisor Lynda Hopkins actually went so far to pen an open letter to the members of the club. After stressing that she does not believe that they are bad people, the politician declared "stop trying to convince me that the Grove is totally normal. It's not. It's weird. But here’s the thing — I don’t have a problem with weird. So just be honest with me and admit that it's weird."
Answering some of the arguments put forward by members, Hopkins noted that Bohemian Grove is different from a run-of-the-mill men's social club by virtue of the powerful people who are a part of it as well as the strict rules concerning women interacting with the organization. She went on to call for more openness from the group, urging them to be "more self-aware" and to consider reaching out to women leaders to possibly be a part of the organization in the future. While it remains to be seen whether or not the suggestions in Hopkins' letter will be seriously considered by the club, it's a safe bet that we haven't heard the last of this controversy.