In honor of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, today is National Women and Girls in Sports Day. Wow… 40 years. And what a legacy!
While it’s true that Title IX is best known for the legal requirement that academic spending benefit girls and boys equally — which has most notably opened the door to a variety of sports opportunities for girls and women — the 1972 anti-discrimination law also is used to protect students from bullying, protect pregnant women from harassment, and even to require college campuses to maintain a safe space free of sexual violence.
Indeed, thanks to Title IX girls can do a lot more than cheerleading (not that there’s anything wrong with cheerleading). But now girls and women can choose from a whole host of sports. In 2006-07 school year, 41% of high school athletes were girls. That’s amazing!
Now comes the not-so-great news: We’ve still got a lot of work to do.
For evidence, we need look no further than the news that for the first time, female boxers are going to be able to compete in the Olympics later this year. That’s the good news. The bad news? The International Amateur Boxing Association is debating making female fighters wear skirts to participate. What an insult! In fact, you can tell them what you think of that idea here.
All this comes back to that fragile balance between allowing women to fully participate in all aspects of society — including sports — and maintaining the gender status-quo. It’s threatening to some people that women will be boxing in the Olympics. Boxing is for men, right? So the solution is to put the women in skirts — just so we’re all clear who has the mammary glands. Well, I’m no boxer, but I don’t think the women in the ring have any trouble remembering that they are women as well as boxers. And if anyone in the audience has trouble discerning what gender the fighters are, well, who cares?
We’ve come a long way in 40 years, but we still have a lot of work to do. I hope by the time my daughter is my age, she will be laughing at this controversy because it’s so antiquated compared to the equality that girls and women have in sports at that time.
This is cross-posted on The Sin City Siren and is a part of the national blog carnival celebrating Title IX and is in partnership with the National Women’s Law Center and National Women and Girls in Sports Day.