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Sex, Gold and Tiger Woods

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Richard Cummings       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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To explain the obsession with golf amongst American males, one must first consider the object of the game, which is to get one's ball into a hole. The game has definite sexual undertones for men, who pursue it to the point at which they are out on the golf course as their companies collapse under them. Women play the game to emulate men, a form of penis envy on the putting green. A hole in one is an unadulterated score, a metaphor for sexual prowess.

It should come as no surprise then, that golf's greatest player, Tiger Woods, whose name itself has sexual connotations, (he is a tiger in bed and will take you into the woods), exudes erotic energy. His sinewy body, bulging biceps and good looks, make him alluring to females who are determined to make it with him. Because he is also of all races, he represents the totality of mankind, a living god of irresistible male pulchritude of mythic proportions. When one combines this with his monumental wealth and his celebrity, he becomes a Nietzchean ubermench, a multiracial, global phenomenon unequaled in his appeal. Women can't leave him alone and he can't leave them alone.

What is, nevertheless, incongruous about Woods is that his art form is golf, a rather ridiculous game that involves a lot of walking and standing around. Why this ludicrous activity is the basis for Woods billions is unfathomable in a complex world of myriad problems desperate for solutions. But like Bobby Jones before him, he eschews any involvement with the great issues of his time. Jones, who was from Georgia, never said a word about the South's segregation and racism. But maybe that's because both of them, at heart, knew that golf hardly made them statesmen and that any attempt on their part to affect change would be laughable. Deep down, Woods knows that what he does is superfluous, a pastime that has no value even as a form of exercise because it does nothing to elevate one's heart rate or engender a sweat.

It is puzzling then why anyone, apart from his wife, should be concerned at all about his private activities, particularly at a time when America is involved in two perilous wars and is in the greatest economic crisis since the great depression, with rampant unemployment shattering the lives of countless Americans. But, then again, this is precisely the point. The powers that be in America know that it is imperative to keep the people from thinking about how they are being ripped off. This is the entire purpose of celebrity. Tiger Woods is a creation of this system, so his image is a matter of great importance to those who rule. Now, that image is shattered, replaced by a snoring man lying on the pavement after he smashed up his SUV at two in the morning on Thanksgiving, his wife using a golf club to smash the vehicle's window so she could extricate him from further danger. Her use of one of his golf clubs makes the scene only that much more ludicrous, since it has been, up to this point, the vehicle for his fame and fortune, a symbol of his erotic power and glamour.

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There is no way to resurrect Tiger Woods a symbol of nothing but a silly man in over his head. The strain on his wife's face in recent photographs is all too evident. No amount of money or fame can make up for the fact that the entire incident was one of comic relief, yet another puncturing of the American myth of success and glory. It was William James, in his little book, "The b*tch Goddess Success" who first exploded that myth. How many more explosions must there be for Americans to stop living vicariously through the lives of the celebrities of the moment and concentrate instead on their own lives? If and when that happens, they will stop lining up to buy Sarah Palin's ludicrous book as if she were Joan of Arc or stayed glued to their televisions to watch Tiger Woods swat at a little white ball at a fancy country club that under normal circumstance, would never make him a member.

Richard Cummings is a writer who has taught in Ethiopia and Barbados and who has worked at a merchant seaman. His play, "Soccer Moms From Hell" recently completed a successful run by the New Haven Theater Company.


Richard Cummings
7 Stanford Court
Sag Harbor, NY 11963

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Graduate of Princeton and Columbia Law School, Ph.D. Cambridge University, Social and Political Sciences. Taught at Haile Sellassie I University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and author of The Pied Piper-Allard K. Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream. Wrote (more...)
 

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