Where Title IX Went Wrong

A month later, I’m still fixated on what a new friend told me, regarding the perceived cattiness we sometimes see in women’s sports, and how it’s all Title IX’s fault.

Title IX, if you don’t know, is a law inacted in 1972, that goes as follows:

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.

“And unfortunately,” my new friend said, “we just have to consider this type of behavior (the cattiness) a negative consequence of Title IX.”

I thought I was going to spit up my Starbucks. Please explain yourself, I said, as directly and uncatty as possible.

“Title IX has moved women into a man’s arena that is the antithesis to women’s innate tendencies, which are to be loving, compassion, and nurturing.”

Aw, fuck that shit.

She was telling me this on the way to a bike race!

I didn’t learn about Title IX until my swim career at Cal State Bakersfield was over, and all of a sudden, the men’s swimteam was on the chopping block unless they could generate x number of dollars for the next season, as their funding had been cut.

That was a huge blow, as the team had won the National Championships eight years in a row. Meanwhile, our women’s team won Conference, once. There was a huge disparity in talent and accomplishments, but their program was threatened simply due to gender. Because if you interpret Title IX to the letter of the law, or at least this is what was happening on college campuses across the nation, if 51% of your student population were women, then 51% of the available sport opportunities had to be available women.

So we had all these men, and women, too, screaming about inequality in sports. I certainly didn’t think it was fair.

On the other hand, my mom, the true athlete in the family, couldn’t do college sports, aside from intra-mural synchronized swimming. She was laughed off the pool deck when she asked the coach if she could swim with the guys.

I mean, at least nowadays at least men’s teams can hold a bake sale. Before Title IX, girls and women couldn’t do sports they wanted to do, period. And we know women want to do sports. If they don’t want to do sports, they don’t show up. And we don’t see that many women at bike races, relative to men. So you can’t say that Title IX has done that much for post-school sports, can you? There’s no connection.

So anyway, my mom became a downhill skier and a racecar driver. There were other women at the autocrosses, she said. And they were pretty catty, she said. This was in 1964, years before Title IX.

I don’t think women are catty. I think some women never learned the joys of winning and losing as children, and have a terrible time with the idea of “failure” as adults, and take out their fears and frustrations in warped ways.

I think a lot of men do that, too.

My best friends in the world, men and women, are athletes and most were athletes in school, as well. I met my oldest friends on my swim team. I believe that when you train three hours a day with someone, every day, you see the best and worst of people. You learn how to get along.

Thank you Title IX!

But there’s that price, says my friend. Almost ten years older than I, she rode one of the first waves of Title IX. I am trying to understand why she sees the dark side, but I’ve heard her say it a few times, as she gets back into competitive sports after twenty years on the sidelines. And what she observes, as she gets her feet wet, are women trying to get along in a “man’s sport.” They do terrible things to themselves, she says, trying to be like men. They’ve been taken out of their natural elements.

Aw, fuck that shit. That might be her perspective, but I think she’s been taken out of her natural element. Those of us who’ve been playing all these years are having a swell time in the sand box. What you see isn’t cattiness; you’re witnessing women playing the game.

Vive la difference.

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About katiekelly

I grew up in a parking lot.
This entry was posted in Cycling, Feminism, Politics, Random Ramblings. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Where Title IX Went Wrong

  1. katiekelly says:

    I was wrong when I said there’s no connection between post-school sports and Title IX. Of course there’s a connection. It’s why we see more women athletes out there today, another positive consequence of Title IX. I think I was trying to say that we’re not seeing Title IX applied to non-federally funded sports, so we can see that no woman is being “forced” to race her bicycle, in the same way that girls are being “forced” to play soccer, softball, basketball, swim, blah blah, in school. So no woman is being taken from her “natural element.”

  2. This is a great post, Katie!

    And yeah, fuck that shit.

  3. donna says:

    Your friend’s argument was invalid because of the over generalizing words she used.Aristotle would turn over in his grave if he read her statements.Your counter argument had many facts and pertinent creative analagies. Using your mom as an example of free choice was excellent.My personal favorite sentence was when you said men can now hold bake sales.

  4. I missed this the first time around, Katie. Good stuff. I was just a wee lass when title 9 was enacted. but I saw the effect it had on my sisters (then in high school and college). More than anything, I’ve seen the negative impact title 9 has had on men’s collegiate sports.

    but, I will also agree with some of your friend’s points. my generation of girls didn’t have a lot of involvement in sports. we were taught to be warm and welcoming and encouraging and inclusive. I’m still that way (thus, Velo Girls). I know lots of women bike racers my age who race not because they are competitive, but rather because they just want to ride fast in a big pack of women.

  5. katiekelly says:

    I think that’s a trait of women, Title IX or not. It’s what makes us so cool. 🙂

  6. eddievenegas says:

    Wonderful postings… Women are athletes too. And it is true women compete for the sake of competing, winning or losing is an after thought. Some men can learn a thing or two from women. I would like to know your opinion… What are some positive results/ideas that have come of Title IX?

  7. katiekelly says:

    I don’t think that winning or losing is an after thought for women. It isn’t for me! But I think that people, especially other women, put women down too much for being competitive, like it makes them less feminine or less human or something. That gets my goat, that’s what started all this ranting on my part. I like to think that Title IX will make this, over time, a non-issue.

  8. в итоге: мне понравилось!

  9. carrie says:

    i hope you spit your starbucks up on her.

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