Saturday, December 02, 2006

Holiday gifts for the Title IX lover in your life

'Tis the season for rampant commercialism and since most of us seem to participate, despite some misgivings, might as well make purchases that educate about or support our favorite cause here at the Title IX blog.

Katie Hnida's new book, Still Kicking is creating some buzz. Hnida, the Div. I football kicker who started her career at Colorado and ended it at U of New Mexico, has penned a memoir of her journey into history which involved many highs (being the first female Div I football player to score) and lows (being raped by a Colorado teammate). No one here has read it yet but we're looking forward to doing so over the holiday break. How often or if Hnida mentions Title IX is a question mark. I wouldn't be surprised if it never comes up (though the concept of gender equity in sport will be a main theme I would assume). Why might it never come up?

If you read Sarah K. Fields' Female Gladiators: Gender, Law, and Contact Sport in America you will find out why. (HINT: It's because Title IX has a contact sport exception.) Fields does an excellent job chronicling the history of litigation in which girls sought access to "boys' sports" and how Title IX did and did not factor into the legal outcomes in these cases. The book is divided into chapters based on the litigation in particular sports including baseball, wrestling, and football. She writes an excellent introduction though for those just interested in the general concept of Title IX, equal protection, and contact sport.

For pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about Title IX you should read Title IX by Carpenter and Acosta, who have been researching Title IX and its effects since the 1970s. It is not necessarily compelling-sit-down-with-a-cup-of-tea reading but it is invaluable if you are looking for statistics on any aspect of Title IX from participation opportunities to the number of female trainers. They have information on Div. I, II, and III which, given the sometimes narrow focus on "big-time" athletic programs, is necessary to a more complete undersatnding of gender equity in intercollegiate sport. A great resource.

There are two histories of women's sports that I consider mandatory reading: Susan Cahn's Coming on Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth Century Women's Sports and Mary Jo Festle's Playing Nice. Cahn actually only mentions Title IX briefly in her last chapter but the history she does here is crucial to understanding how Title IX came about and the issues in women's sports that lead to and created controversy over the legislation. Plus she is one of the first scholars to discuss the African-American women in sport. Her book generated much more research on race and gender in sport and started to deconstruct the image of "female athlete" as white and middle or upper class.

Festle's book provides more information on the genesis of Title IX and the immediate effects. She provides a closer look at some of the leaders on both the men's and women's side of athletic governance and the role of the government in clarifying the legislation. She also writes about the rise of professional women's tennis and basketball. This juxtaposition of professional and collegiate sport created a better understanding of the issues that existed at different levels of women's sports and outlines some of the disconnects and overlaps.

A couple of titles that I have only skimmed and so cannot completely vouch for:
Welch Suggs' A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX. Suggs, a former reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education and member of the Knight Commission, covers the sometimes not-so-pleasant effects of Title IX such as the drastic drop in female head coaches and the general loss of control by women over women's athletics.

Rita Simon edited Sporting Equality: Title IX Thirty Years Later (that initially was a special issue of Gender Issues) which centers on the work on and report from 2003 Secretary of Education’s Commission on Opportunities in Athletics. This was the group that recommended serious revisions to the application of Title IX that would have weakened it considerably. (Notably members Julie Foudy and Donna DeVarona wrote their own dissenting report.) The book is somewhat dry, but again, an excellent resource if one is looking for specific information on this commission and for facts and stats (including charts!) on Title IX. Foudy and DeVarona's report is included as is some essays by non-supporters such as a wrestling coach who argues that Title IX is "reverse discrimination."

I am a say-it-with-a-t-shirt (or tote bag, or tank top, or stationary) kind of gal so here are some sites that offer apparel and other products with the proceeds going to a good cause.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has a shop full of t-shirts, sweatshirts (all sweatshop-free), bags, videos, stationary, etc. Nothing that says Title IX, alas, but plenty on reproductive rights, feminism, voting. I personally am a fan of the Radical Feminist baseball tee (in case anyone is looking for ideas).

You can help support the Women's Sports Foundation and their project to get more girls active by purchasing a GoGirlGo t-shirt.

Apparently Girljock, a (former) magazine and book centered on lesbians in sport has apparel but you have to email them for more information and though I did so over a week ago I have not heard back from them yet. Though I am still hoping, I am not too confident in being able to acquire a t-shirt in time for the holidays.

So happy shopping to all!

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