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thing of the past | thing to come

the most beautiful law: Title IX

What: Title XV of the Education Amendments of 1972, which modified Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law begins, "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."

Why: Not surprisingly for an act that can't even get its own number right, Title IX doesn't even say what it came to be most connected with. Its intent was to eliminate discrimination against women in education—not sports in education, but education itself. In the 1960s, it was not even universally agreed upon that women should have equal opportunity to go to school. But by the 1970s, in the wake of the bra-burning revolution, the country was ready to codify the simple concept that women should go to school. The law had a subtle consequence, though. "Any education program or activity" meant that the traditional rampart of male exclusivity—athletics—was about to be turned on its head. Sports, especially team sports, was not then viewed as ladylike. But with Title IX, allowing play was viewed as mandatory. If women wanted to play soccer, play basketball, play volleyball, play softball—now they could. Now they would.

Impact: Greater than any federal administrative law since the Civil Rights Act itself. The collective psyche of more than fifty percent of the U.S. population changed irrevocably, allowing women to feel comfortable in competitive arenas like law and medicine and the military. As for sports, it's gotten to the point today where much of America is gathered around their TV sets to watch a women's soccer team go for a World Cup championship. Nobody's burning any bras now; the ones that matter are those under the jerseys of the new Brandi Chastains. With women's sports expanding ninefold in the past four decades, the presumption that women could be competitive, could sweat, could swear, could leave it all on the pitch, could break you in half if they wanted—all of that is okay now. All of that, for want of a better term, is ladylike.

Personal Connection: I am of the right age to have seen American girls change because of Title IX. In the late 1970s, girls in my school became among the first to expect the opportunity to play. In high school, the girls I hung out with played basketball because they could. In college, the women I dated built a national championship program in lacrosse because they could. And now that those women have daughters, the games that I make are expected to be played by everyone. A game designer can write a game for boys, but it will be played by girls. And boys, I hate like the dickens to break it to you, but they will beat you. Because they can.

Other Contenders: the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which among other victories, gave us our bald eagles back; the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003, which criminalizes telephonic harassment; the ever-expanding list of laws, currently in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Mexico City, and parts of the USA, that allow everyone to marry; the laws which provide universal health care in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan—which in those cases are provided by the United States.



( 14 comments — Agree or disagree? )
Jul. 17th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
This came through just as I was a bit too old to play Little League. But my friends girls can, and do.
Jul. 17th, 2011 11:38 pm (UTC)
I'm sure you can sneak into a 14-and-under game, bat cleanup, and sneak out before anyone notices.
Jul. 17th, 2011 11:56 pm (UTC)
I somehow don't think that my 50+ year old self is quite spry enough for shortstop anymore.
Jul. 18th, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
I applaud this and all of the honorable mentions- I can only hope one day the wife will be allowed to be my legal wife, recognized all across the US. But Women's rights to beat the boys at their own game is a total win. (personally I prefer kicking my male roommate and my brother's buts in Mortal Kombat and or MtG)
Jul. 18th, 2011 03:15 am (UTC)
That day will come. New York will be the tipping point for the Blue States, as none of us want New York to be cooler than we are. Somehow it will all work out after that.
Jul. 18th, 2011 04:46 am (UTC)
Nice. :)
Jul. 18th, 2011 05:03 am (UTC)
Me, I'd pick either the Thirteenth or the Twenty-First Amendment (or if you want to be picky about it, the enabling legislation thereunto appertaining), but I got no beef with Title IX.
Jul. 18th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
I'll take the Fifth.
Jul. 24th, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
If you're going to go the route of equal-access laws, my vote is for the Americans With Disabilities Act. It hasn't had the impact that Title IX has had, in part because the underlying idea -- that everybody, and we mean everybody, should have access to public accommodations, protection from discrimination, and the like -- was so revolutionary that, 20 years after its passage, businesses still refuse to accept that the law's provisions apply to them.
Aug. 13th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
No objection there.
Sep. 27th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday!
Dec. 3rd, 2011 03:17 am (UTC)
Dec. 3rd, 2011 03:15 am (UTC)
Title IX cost me a chance to play collegiate soccer, causing me to be left forever with thoughts and questions about how far I could have actually made it... Dont get me wrong I absolutely love our women's national team (especially hope, alex and heather) ... but this act may actually be the reason mls sucks so much and the rest of the world dominates the USA mens national team... bottom line is the cause in which they initially set out to help was great, but they should have found another way to do it ... this is reverse sex discrimination ! (any lawyers out there looking for for a historic case im in)
Dec. 3rd, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear you lost your chance to play collegiate soccer.
( 14 comments — Agree or disagree? )


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