Title IX: Equity in Education (Not Just Sports)

I’ve been a self-proclaimed feminist for 20 years now, and it took me a very, very long while to realize that Title IX was not ONLY about sports. It 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.

There is no specific mention of sports, you’ll notice. I’ll be honest that that bias toward the sports issues it raised really pisses me off. And to clarify: I don’t hate sports. I just hate the way sports take up all the air in the room, all the time. And in this case, one of the reasons every reference we hear to Title IX concerns sports is because right out of the gate there were people more worried about how this might disrupt male athletes for a tiny goddamn second.

So to clarify, Title IX actually addresses all inequities in ANY EDUCATION PROGRAM OR ACTIVITY, which includes (but is not limited to):

  • Access to Higher Education,
  • Career Education,
  • Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students,
  • Employment,
  • Learning Environment,
  • Math and Science,
  • Sexual Harassment,
  • Standardized Testing
  • Technology


That said, today it has been 40 years since Title IX was enacted by President Nixon, and I’m glad we’ve got it. Lately, honestly, I’m wondering what happened that we seemed to abandon so many of the amazing goals of the 60s and 70s, or exactly when we took our eye off equity.

Sports Illustrated on Trans Athletes

I have to say that this is kind of amazing: Sports Illustrated has taken on the topic of trans athletes.

For transgender men and women, the physiological traits that distinguish them as male or female don’t conform to how they feel about themselves. Some have undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy to make their biological and gender identities match. Others, such as the 28-year-old Godsey, have not: He was born as a female and therefore competes as a female, but he identifies as male. Imagine a body, especially one as finely tuned as an elite athlete’s, feeling inescapably foreign—as if it were intended for the opposite sex. “I take a lot of pride in the fact that I have a good amount of muscle mass, and I’ve done it naturally,” says Godsey. “But in some ways, this is the last body I would ever want.”

. . .

Consider something as simple as going to the bathroom. When using men’s rooms—his preference—Godsey usually tries to conceal his chest; in women’s rooms he accentuates it by wearing what he calls tight “girl shirts.” Still, he has been escorted out of an airport ladies’ room by security, interrogated at restaurants and once had to flee a group of snarling men at a truck-stop bathroom in Nebraska.

The world is a-changing. Maybe not fast enough, but faster than I expected.

Go Giants!

I’m watching tonight with a fellow NYer and dedicated Giants fan, once again, of course, to stand in for my dad, who was a huge fan. So: GO GIANTS!

Of course no matter who wins, it will be a blue state victory, and an East Coast one, to boot.

& So It Begins…

… Football season, that is. For those of you who don’t live in Wisconsin or in some other place where football is de rigeur, I’m not sure you can understand exactly how awesome a beast football fandom is. I manged to avoid it for 40 years of my life, happily. I’ve never liked the violence of football; I’ve never been comfortable in a room where people are yelling violent things at a TV screen. It’s just not my cup of tea, & never has been. That’s not to say that I don’t attend Superbowl parties – I do, and always have, because the ads and the Half-Time show are entertaining – and I’ve certainly decided to watch with friends who love the game but didn’t have anyone else to watch with. I know how the game works, for the most part, or did: I used to play football, tomboy that I was.

I’m glad that it gives some people joy & camaraderie. The Packers, for instance, are actually owned by the people of Wisconsin, which I think is a damned cool thing. There is something to be said for a sport that helps people bond. There’s a lot of to be said for the lessons of winning and losing graciously, and learning how to put ego aside for the sake of a group effort.

But I am still a Gender Studies professor, and it’s nearly impossible for me to shut my critical eye. It’s not that I don’t have guilty pleasures – porn is certainly one of them – that I have conscientious qualms about enjoying. But I can’t say I partake in anything so mainstream, so culturally-validated, so intensely insisted upon. And I certainly don’t insist that anyone else who might have objections to porn like the stuff in order to hang out with me.

People might assume – because of who I am, because of what I do – that I’m somehow immune to feeling left out. I’m not. Since I think a lot too about bullying, and about how queer kids are often made to feel like they don’t fit in, I’ve been paying close attention to the things that make me feel both lonely and isolated here. I’ve considered doing an “It Gets Better” video, but this past year was not one that made me feel like it does. No, in new, acute ways, even as an adult, even if you’re known as a bit of a firebrand, a crank, or eccentric in whatever way, standing down peer pressure is still difficult. Sometimes it taxes me in ways that sadden me; I would have expected, by now, not to feel that kind of sting. But I do. I wish I didn’t. Continue reading “& So It Begins…”

How to Defeat Bigoted Bullshit

What an amazing story: a Brazilian volleyball player was heckled with the chant “faggot” during an uber-important match and was shaken by the incident. He came out – acknowledging that he was gay, & that everyone knew it – and the rest of him team showed support by wearing pink shirts, rainbow shirts, and unfurling a huge banner that said “Volleyball against prejudice” and fans brought thundersticks that had the player’s name on them.

Here, we pretend this is all about Kobe Bryant – as if no one else in sports uses these kinds of slurs! Please.: the whole “I didn’t mean gay people when I used ‘fag’ as an insult” is so 1994. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to use words that have been used to oppress, intimidate and threaten people of whatever minority group anymore.

(h/to to SS!)

Roller Derby Trans Grrrl

I’ve known other (trans) women in roller derbies before, but I’m happy to see an official policy by a women’s organization siding in favor of inclusion. Bethany Johnson said:

“We’ve yet to send out a formal press release regarding this, but we are very proud of the diversity represented by our league and we’re glad that our league can be one of the leagues to formally create a policy allowing transwomen skaters . . . For The Chicago Outfit, I think that having this policy is another step for our league to show how open and accepting of women from all walks of life we are. This policy also hopefully will help to continue the legitimization of transwomen athletes in this sport in other leagues throughout the country.”

Although “allows” really chafes, even if the person who said it is trans herself.

Are You Ready for Some Sex Trafficking?

Because I live in Wisconsin where football – or at least Packers – is a state religion, I’ve been poking around the edges of the thing because I don’t get it, and I’m absolutely sure it’s not because I mind beer, yelling, processed foods and funny hats. Beer + yelling + processed foods + funny hats are my idea of a good time, generally speaking.

I came across this sentence the other day. at change.org:

The trafficking of children for sale at the Super Bowl is well documented.

And I was honestly flabbergasted: not surprised, because where men with money gather, children are sold for sexual pleasure. Still, it’s sickening. So many people watch and play football because it’s fun — shoot, even I go to Super Bowl parties! What a way to mess up an otherwise (mostly) harmless sports event.

Continue reading “Are You Ready for Some Sex Trafficking?”