Sports World News Title IX has shown generations of women what is possible
“Do you call yourself a feminist?” I asked Pat Summitt, from our first acquaintance.
“Because I’m not a sign carrier,” she said.
But after a few days of researching how Pat got on to her business as a women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, I knew what to call her. Pat allows me to watch her during her workday with the hobby of writing a book together, and I watch from the corners of the room as she whispers with ladylike restraint through meetings, seduces old southern male administrators in their offices with her tenderness and then. turned and urged her players to thunder across the field with roaring intensity. One afternoon, I returned to the topic.
“I know I have to call you now,” I said. “I know what you are.”
“You are a subversive,” I said.
She laughed, and then she said, quite seriously, “Exactly right.”
In the half century since Congress enacted Title IX on June 23, 1972, it has become increasingly clear how radical the code with Roman numerals really was. On the surface, it’s a blunt verdict, buried in a larger education law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded educational programs. Typically, we have assessed its impact in terms of pure numbers, scholarships and budgets, as measures of “fairness”. But that’s just a petty, superficial administrative application. The numbers don’t tell the whole story – not even close. Pat is after something much bigger than the budget.
One of the historical curiosities about Title IX is that there has never been full compliance with the law – the protests by male administrators were immediate and their grip on equitable resources has continued non-stop since then. A former Cotton Bowl official told me in the 1980s that women’s sports advocates were out “ripping shirts off our backs.” In 2011, a coalition of male coaches maintained that women were “unfairly wasting” their programs by quotas, and bookmaking continued. through the 2020 NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
So is it how well the law has worked? How did it become… uncontrollable?
Because its opponents have too small a way of thinking. Title IX doesn’t waste money on men’s sports programs. Title IX is a waste for everything. It’s a waste of money idea – men’s ideas about women’s abilities, but most importantly women’s ideas about we.
When you cure the perception of emotional weakness and physical incompetence in a young woman, you kill off the idea that there are certain things she is not constitutionally appropriate to do. And you instill in her a new idea, that she has an inalienable right to choose her career interests and to work with an unabashedly passionate passion.
How do you measure the effect of the seeds flying into the wind?
What’s remarkable, in reviewing its history, is how intentional Title IX champions have always been. They knew. They know what the law will actually do.
As the law’s most powerful original lobbyist, Billie Jean King, told journalist Grace Lichtenstein“I am interested in the women’s movement but from a work opinion, not wisdom. ”
King once said, “The track and field competition is a unique arena in which women can prove that they are not inherently ‘adults’. That’s why King had a lifelong interest in a young pre-Title IX Stanford tennis player she met in 1972 named Sally Ride and mentored her even when Ride decided not to move. turned professional and chose to pursue physics instead. During a NASA press conference before her first spaceflight, Ride was famously asked, “Do you cry when things don’t go your way?” Ride just grinned and asked his crew to answer the same question.
King, like Summitt, knows Title IX isn’t a budget mission that will rob a few men’s athletic scholarships. It’s a missile that can blow up a hole in the world.
Summitt and King are not only interested in scholarship athletes but also not at all the young women who had come into their orbits – colleagues, rivals, rivals, Chris Evert, fine science experts and even female sports journalists, at the time were relative creatures. rare. During the chat, Summitt and King will work quietly with you, pressing you with questions and challenges. “What do you really want do? ‘ King asked the day when I was supposed to interview her.
You emerge from their wobble with a sense that identity is a self-construction to be pursued with winning energy. “You do not when let anyone else define who you are,” Summitt would say.
It was a real intrusion into the inner circle of the former male magic tribe. And its effect is titanic. If you want a number to measure it, try this one:
In 1970, before Title IX, women earned only 10% of all Ph. Now they make 54 percent. That is movement.
Those twin towers, King and Summitt, understood that what killed ambition was a completely insurmountable obstacle. They set out to eliminate what MIT’s first female president, Susan Hockfield, once called the “silent oppression of the ‘impossible’.” ”
Their aim, throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, was to destroy women’s athletic prowess and thus create a strategy to avoid the seemingly impossible constraints, to let go of the handcuffs and Roll stones out of the way.
You’ve learned from watching them that technical mastery is paramount to raw power at all times. You have learned that the way to defeat stigma, stereotypes and injustice is not only to protest against it, but to use it as a sharpening stone for excellence, the stepping stone of your professional blade. friend. You’ve learned to treat “pressure like a favor,” as King always said, because when things are tough, you can find a deep, secret joy in getting in the way – and overcoming them.