These are heady days and the summer heat has brought us a swirl of estrogen in the air. Glass ceilings are being broken everywhere, and yet, as I heard this morning on NPR as I drove to work, the job is not nearly done. Women are still being held back in all aspects of modern life, through conscious and unconscious forms of discrimination which continue to plague the generations and keep women pinned down without opportunity.
The numbers speak for themselves, for example, this year, 2016, only 58% of college students are expected to be female. How do we expect women to be able to get ahead in this competitive world if we continue to deny them educational opportunities?
And the wage gap is clearly a huge issue, with women reportedly earning only 79 cents for every dollar earned by a male. Never mind that the actual difference is more like 4 cents. Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!
But today I would like to address one of the most egregious examples of gender segregation which continues to be accepted throughout our country. You would think that over sixty years of progress should have told us that separate-but-not-equal practices as legal doctrine should not pass the smell test, yet this area of discrimination continues today almost unbounded.
So what is this abomination that we have allowed to keep around like Norma Bates’ corpse to haunt us, and why have we continued to perpetuate the myth that this constitutes fairness? I speak, of course, about the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. Huh? you may ask, what is this you are talking about? You may know it better by the old and dreary name of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, Public Law No. 92‑318, 86 Stat. 235, specifically Title IX.
The law itself seems innocent enough:
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.
But, dear readers, as they say, the devil is in the detail.
This act has led to a system of separate-but-not-equal athletic programs throughout our high-schools and colleges. It is high time that the wall between the men’s and women’s programs be struck down and we allow this discrimination to come to an end.
There is no reason that our women should be held back and not be allowed to compete on the same playing fields as our men. As we have seen in soccer there are plenty of females who are fleet of foot and can strike a booming free kick.
Billie Jean King showed over forty years ago that women could hold their own in tennis. Haven’t we come a long way since then? Apparently not, as the sports are kept separate today. And golf – who would doubt that Annika Sörenstam could still hold her own against the men, and today’s new generation of golfers would certainly put Tiger in his place (and considering his treatment of women, why shouldn’t they?)
There is absolutely no reason that women should be kept separate from men in winter sports either – skiing, skating, luge, bobsled, biathlon. It seems downright silly in this modern age to run two parallel competitions for these things.
We could go on almost endlessly – lacrosse, basketball, even baseball – why do the women have to play softball instead? And what about the bastion of male dominance in sports, football. It is about time that we allow women to compete there.
Finally boxing. If we are to end gender discrimination once and for all, we need to have men and women duking it out. And what woman would not want to see their Ultimate Fighting Championship stars beat the living daylights out of the men?
It’s about damn time.