One of the first women members of the exclusive Jonathan Club, aviator Brooke Knapp, sharply criticized Los Angeles authorities Friday for this week’s municipal lawsuit seeking to force the club to admit women to its men’s bar and grill.
Knapp said she believes the club on its own volition will eventually permit women to use the facilities, and she fears that by pressing on such details the city may engender a backlash that will slow women’s progress, not only at the Jonathan Club but at other private clubs as well.
Besides, she noted, the club has two other restaurants which are open to women.
“The Jonathan Club has taken a major step in opening up their membership to women,” said Knapp, who joined the club last June. “They should be given credit. They’ve made a lot of changes. But all change takes time. People who have taken action, have opened doors, have to be given time to see that they’ve done a good thing.”
Knapp said “we’ve won the battle” over the integration of women into the club.
"(Councilwoman) Joy Picus is certainly to be commended for sponsoring the ordinance (banning club discrimination),” she said. “But these two rooms at the Jonathan Club are like a mopping-up action. I think the focus given to this issue implies this is the most important issue in town now, and it’s not.”
The Picus ordinance, which went into effect last June, bars discrimination at most large private clubs on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability.
Knapp, the first pilot to circle the Earth at the poles in a private jet, now heads her own investment firm in West Los Angeles. She is one of more than half a dozen women who have been admitted since last spring to the Jonathan Club.
On Thursday, the deputy city attorney who is handling the suit against the Jonathan Club, Pamela A. Albers, said city authorities have not been able to bring suit against clubs that have not admitted any women at all to membership because no one has yet complained they were being kept out.