Title IX of the Education Amendment Act passed in 1972. With its passage, saw the beginning of equality in women’s athletics. The law established that “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. ” These thirty-seven words set into motion events that would challenge the foundation of institutions of all levels. Overall, Title IX has been successful in establishing equity in athletics program thus far.
This by no means mean that sex discrimination in the sports are eliminated, however, compared to the pre-Title IX world, the current state of sports has move further towards equalities between the sexes. Per the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), in 1966-1967, before the passage of Title IX, there were 151,918 men and 15,182 women participating in sports and recreational programs of universities and colleges. Compared to the years 2000-2001, the numbers of participants have increase to 208,866 male and 150,916 female athletes. 20) The dramatic increase in the number of female participants is a direct result of Title IX and its enforcement. However, the implementation of Title IX was an uphill battle from the start. The enforcement of Title IX had meet with hindrances when it was first implemented. The principal factors that have hindered the enforcement of Title IX are cultural factors. To understand the cultural factors that hindered Title IX’s enforcement, it is important to consider the world that Title IX was being introduce to. In the 1960’s, there was no opportunities for women in sports.
In fact, women were encouraged to not play sports evidence by a slogan of that era, “nice girls don’t sweat. ” (10) The notion that “women’s bodies were inherently… weaker than men’s” was widely accepted by popular culture. (9) This notion was seep into American culture. From the dismissal in distress portray in movies to the magazine portraying the obedient housewife in the kitchen. Women were essentially put on Earth to do the biding of men or be rescue by them. When a woman step out of line and try to infiltrate men’s domain the law gets involve.
As a Connecticut judge puts it in 1971, “Athletics builds characters in boys. We don’t need that kind of character in our girls,” as he denied girls from participating in a boy’s high school cross-country team. (8) The legal system that was supposed to fight for the rights of its citizens didn’t view both sexes as equals. This was the mentality of the culture that wasn’t new but foster for generations in human’s psyche for millennia. Fortunately, with the passing of Title IX, women now have the law behind them.
However, having to combat this ideology is going to slow Title IX’s enforcement. Undoing this is going to be a challenge and a long battle, for the notion that women are somehow inferior to men persists in today’s culture. Due to societal ideology, a hierarchy of power formed and it did not matter if it was intentional or unintended. Women were second class citizen at their best. The idea that women are inferior to men is imbedded into Americans at an early age, so that during adulthood many don’t even question their surroundings.
Subjecting women to a lower class wasn’t even out of the norm. This is apparent in a 1998 article by Angie Watts, a Washington Post staff writer, when she sat down with male and female high school athletes to discuss girls’ sports and gender equality. When the female athletes were asked if they receive the same amount of support as the boy’s team, the general answer was that there was no support. No support from fans or administrators. “When we go ask for sponsors, more people go sponsor football or basketball… fans care about varsity football… ut girls’ sports, most of the time it’s just parents and boyfriends who care. ” (119)
The support from administrators were nonexistence as one female athlete puts it “we have to do fund-raisers for new uniforms. ” (119) The male athlete’s overall attitude to female’s sport was that the audiences didn’t want to watch ‘girls’ play and the only way to overcome this was to have a super-woman athlete played to generate interests. So, until this happens, the women must support themselves. Of course, there don’t need to be a superman type athlete counter-part to generate interest in the male teams.
The audience will show up and support the male team no matter the skill level. A culture that view male as aggressive, driven to win, play rough, and superior, while female is calm, caring, nonaggressive, and inferior, of course the male team is going to generate more interest. It doesn’t matter if this notion is factual or not, the preconceive notion is there already. The female athlete stand no chance of being taken seriously when society already decided that their games will be boring because they are girls.
If support is given to the team that generate the most revenue, then women’s sport team are destiny to always be in the background given the stereotypes most people already harbored. This ideology is so ingrain into the human subconscious that it is seen throughout the cultures of the world. It is so prevalent that some women don’t even realize that discrimination is happening daily to them. For example, Cynthia Lee A. Permberton, assistant athletic director at Linfield College in Oregon, headed the women’s athletics program in which discrimination happened daily.
Permberton even took part in said discrimination completely unaware of it. As she discusses in One Woman’s Fight for Gender Equity in Sport, an early example of her unawareness came for her interaction with the athletic director, Ad Rutschman. The scenario involved her and Rutschman discussion about the men’s basketball team getting new shoes while the women’s team had to buy their own shoes. She was asked if she had a problem with this setup. Without questioning it she agreed. “If and when the women’s basketball team starts making money, they too can have shoes… it okay with me that they (men’s basketball team) get more. ” (91)
Without even realizing it Permberton agreed and accepted discrimination against the women of Linfield. How is the women’s team supposed to make money when they don’t have proper equipment? Permberton eventually saw the injustice and try to make Linfield compliant with Title IX, however, she would only be face with resistance from the established figure heads. For those that try to go against this ideology, resistance for the establishment soon follows. The people that called attention to this problem are meet with harassments.
In Permberton’s case, she lost her place in the community and ultimately ostracized by her peers. “I lost any hope of a career in athletic administration… I was publicly humiliated. ” (95) All she did was called attention to the discrimination at Linfield which was her job. In another case, the whistle blowers are often called “dykes,” a derogatory term use to descried lesbian. The term was used to discourage women from participating in sports. Challenging the athletic authorities often means harassment and getting your name drag through the mud.
As Lucy Jane Bledsoe found out when she tries to get her high school to be compliant with Title IX. “Within a couple of days, I had twice been called a “liar” in print. ” (149) She would then be threatened by the basketball coach. “I would be sorry, he said, if I didn’t zip up my mouth, and fast. ” (149) All this anger and hate from grown men directed towards a teenage high school student who only wanted equality. However, in their eyes, Bledsoe was the evil villain that has come and drag the rug from under their feet, for their ideology is being challenge.
In a society where women are inferior, she was in the wrong for wanting to have the same opportunities as her male counter-parts. The principle factor that block Title IX’s enforcement must be the cultural factors. Although there are others factors that come into play, at the core of the problem is this deep ingrain notion that somehow women are less than men. On matter, how much Title IX improve the equality between the sexes, this ideology will remain in the deep subconscious of the human psyche.