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PARKER: Life and basketball not always about equality

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker

As if President Barack Obama didn't have enough on his plate with health care and Afghanistan, he's now faced with the problem that can't be solved: Women.

Sorry, Mr. President, but we coulda toldja.

But no, Barack Obama courted the girls, promised them equality in all things, and now has excluded them from an all-male game of basketball.

Sorry, ladies, but we coulda toldja.

Not all women are upset, of course. Some on his estrogen-rich staff have shrugged off the faux-scandal about the now-infamous game and point to Obama's inclusion of women where it matters most.

Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett noted the several high-level female appointments, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Also, the administration boasts a 50-50 gender split among White House employees.

But a few women find the president's preference for guy company in his extracurricular life problematic. Basketball in this instance isn't only about shooting hoops; it's about access to the president. As the powder room buzz goes, Obama may as well have tacked a sign over the clubhouse door: "No girls allowed."

Just as soon as I finish this yawn, I'm going to rustle up some righteous indignation. Here goes: How dare he!

On the other hand, how dare he otherwise? Basketball is a contact sport. Wouldn't we find a presidential body brush with a congresswoman at least equally problematic? How about the likelihood that few women in the White House or Congress could play well enough to make it fun for the president? Or should we have Obama play down for the girls? Should he simply not get to play ball as president?

Life is complicated — but not really. Obama likes to play basketball and one can only amuse oneself alone with a ball and a hoop for so long. It is natural that he would summon a few guys to play with him. Must even a president's recreational time be politically correct?

Smack dab on center court is the elephant no one wants to acknowledge: That men and women are different; that sometimes even heterosexuals prefer same-sex company; and that, as a rule, women and men are unequal in matters physical. With rare exceptions, the gender-neutrality trope that drives much of the Democratic Party agenda is, was and ever shall be false.

Sad. Depressing. Frustrating. Maddening. Call it what you wish, but it is still true.

Obama's basketball game, thus, has become a convenient metaphor for an inconvenient truth. Generally speaking, guys prefer to play ball with other guys, just as women prefer to form book clubs with other women. That's not because women don't like men (and vice versa), but because when relaxing, women mostly want to drink wine together. And talk about men. I don't know what men do on the basketball court that is so compelling, but they apparently need it, and I don't.

That skittering sound you hear is the scurrying of a thousand stilettos as women scramble to blog their protest. Wait, wait, I feel another yawn coming on. Is there anything more exhausting than trying to explain the obvious?

None of what's true or obvious precludes rational approaches to fair practices or tweaks to make life more workable and pleasant. But, though we celebrate women athletes, absolute equality isn't likely until we alter the hormonal composition of the universe.

Or desirable?

Honest women will have to admit that they helped Obama become president not only because of the policies he promised, but because they rather fancied him. That famed jocularity he shares with men more than women may be cause for criticism in the Halls of Harrumph, but it's called nectar in the jungle. His guyness is his jump shot.

Not to suggest that men ever do or say anything right, but women peeved by the president's perceived masculine insularity might benefit from my father's advice when, as a young girl, I complained about life's unfairness. "Don't complain about the game," he said. "Learn the game and play it better." There's more than one way to score a point, in other words, and history has never suggested women are unclever.

If absolute parity of access to the president is essential to women's sense of well-being, perhaps they should create a bowling league of their own and invite the president to play. I hear he has a bowling alley in his house. And, if memory serves, women may expect to prevail.

E-mail nationally syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker at kathleenparker@washpost.com.