Thursday, May 10, 2012

40 years of Title IX: How effective has it been?

One of my favorite athletes of all time- Laila Ali-  has kicked of a conference at the University of Michigan to promote the awareness of the historic law passed 40 years ago on June 23, 1972. She noted that women will box for gold for the first time this summer in London, something that she couldn't do before. Some people may wonder why there would be a need for a law like this. Laila Ali acknowledged that, saying, If things were fair, we wouldn't have to be at this conference." Has Title IX made things fair?

 A 13-year-old boy was recently kicked off a girls' field hockey team for being "too good". The boy was raised in Ireland and has been playing field hockey all off his life. Since there are no boys' hockey teams in America, he has no choice but to play on a girls' team.Make no mistake, he is very good at it. But that is like trying to ban Walter Payton from the NFL for being "too good". It's his gender that is mainly driving this decision.  He has been trying to appeal the decision through Title IX, but as Professor Joanna Grossman of Hofstra University notes, his chances of winning the appeal are very little because he is not an underrepresented individual.  Which, in my mind, doesn't make sense. A boy in an all girls field hockey league fits the description just as much as anyone. I remember we used to have a girl as a kicker on my football team back in Virginia a couple of years ago. How fair is it that when a girl wants to play a "male" sport she is covered by a law, but when a boy wants to play a "female" sport he is not covered by that same law?

Title IX has done a lot of good for equality between the sexes, but true equality is equality for everyone. As the young man's case goes along, I hope it gets those who are deciding the case, and everyone else, thinking about how Title IX can be improved. I feel that Title IX can do more good in society breaking down stereotypes, not reinforcing them.


  1. Title IX clearly states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..." The law was written to protect women from exclusion, but instead of specifying "no woman", "no person" is written. If, however, a double standard exists where it is ok to discriminate towards males but not females, then equality definitely does not exist. By overcompensating for the lack of equality between genders, we actually further the gap and reinforce old ideas of inequality. However, on another note, this inequality in sports is unavoidable, because men and women do have physical differences, and therefore are not equal in terms of natural strength and physical ability. Because there are such obvious differences between the genders, I think it may actually be impossible to ever achieve full "equality" in this way.

  2. I absolutely agree. I feel that many "feminists" ignorantly pursue not equality, but a redistribution of gender power where women are stronger or more favored than men. While universities' ethnicity quotas increase diversity, they sometimes do so at the cost of denying more qualified and arguably more intelligent and capable individuals in order to make room for less qualified, but more diverse, students. Similarly, gender quotas for, say, women in the engineering school, compromise the integrity of the system as a whole. Shouldn't the goal of universities be to graduate as many of the most intelligent/capable/qualified students as possible? I feel like such quotas, while effectively addressing the issues they were designed to, create new issues in their stead.

  3. Because men are in a position of privilege- meaning that they do not have to be conscious of gender issues because they are not directly affected, and because they are the perpetrators in creating gender inequality, and because they hold positions of power and dominate politics- men do not have the right to feel discriminated against by women. Title IX was an attempt to protect women from patriarchal hegemony, to give them an opportunity to participate and create a dialogue about gender and sexuality in the United States. I believe that it is perfectly acceptable to provide a safe space for women (ie. sports teams, community centers, schools) because of their status in America, and the struggle they face in comparison to men. Men can't complain about their status, nor can they claim that discrimination against men is unfair because they are in a position of power.

  4. Discrimination against anyone, regardless of their sex, is discrimination. And banning a boy from a girls team simply because he is a boy and thus "too good," is just as, if not worse, than banning a girl from a boys team because she is "not good enough." Either situation is equally unfair and equally representative of gender inequality. Under Title IX, males should without a doubt be given the same rights as women are. If this law meant to promote gender equality is to truly and successful serve its very purpose, then it should be enforced equally for citizens of either sex.


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