THE Gympie Apex Club's rejection of its first potential female member caused a vitriolic storm on social media over the weekend.
Thirty-two-year-old barrister and mother Kristy Herrod is the wife of Jebson Herrod, a member of the club for more than seven years.
Last December she co-ordinated the Apex Santa Fair in Gympie, less than a month after giving birth to her daughter Juliet.
For the past 18 months she has campaigned for the club to open its membership to women.
Until it did so this month, Gympie was one of the last men's-only Apex clubs left in Australia.
Kristy said yesterday she had been told "to her face" she would never be able to join because she was female.
When her membership application was put to the vote last Thursday night, it was voted down. There were seven voting members at the meeting.
"I just wanted to join a club that my husband was a member of," she said yesterday.
Kristy posted on Facebook on Friday:
"I have never been so insulted in all my life as I was at the Gympie Apex meeting last night.
" ...as of last night I am the only prospective Apex member that I know of in the history of this club to not be voted into the club when my membership was put to the vote.
"Why? Because I don't have a penis. It's as simple as that.
"Shame on you Gympie Apex. Shame. You have lost one of the most dedicated and passionate members you would have ever had. And at the end of the day that is a loss to our community."
Her post triggered an avalanche of comments, including one calling her a "psycho".
Jebson has since resigned from the club.
"You have never attended an Apex meeting and heard the things they say," he replied to one post criticising his wife.
"The only reason my wife was voted down was because she was a woman.
"A man who has done less than her was voted in on the same night. It's bull****. No one is attacking the volunteers. They are attacking the bull**** that is rejecting good volunteers on the basis of gender."
Club president Sam Johnson denied yesterday that gender had played a part in the vote. His full response is below.
Kristy said she would now channel her energies into her dream of opening a community legal service in Gympie.
Club president responds
GYMPIE Apex Club president Sam Johnson declined to get drawn into a "gender" debate yesterday.
The following is a statement issued in response to Kristy Herrod's failed membership application:
"The Apex Club of Gympie Inc was founded in the 1950s and since then has had over 1000 members join, and worked with thousands of volunteers to help the Gympie community.
"Apex was founded in the 1930's depression years as a young men's organisation to undertake voluntary community work to develop leadership skills and help those less fortunate in the community, similar to the Country Women's Association or the Quota Club for women. The Gympie club however is now open to both men and women.
"Membership processes are set out in the constitution. The steps include:
for a nomination of membership to be accepted there is a secret ballot of members present at the meeting;
a prospective member must receive no less than two thirds in favour of their membership, and if that is achieved they are inducted as an active member;
prospective members are offered the opportunity to appeal the decision within 14 days and put a case supporting their membership to a general meeting.
Another vote will then be held within 14 days from the date of notification and this decision will be final.
"If there are any members of our community - men or women - who would like to be a part of our fantastic organisation please come and meet the team and participate in our service activities on Anzac Day."