Title IX critics huddle up for special treatment

When I read complaints that Title IX enforcement goes too far in dealing with sexual assault on campus, I think of football. Not because this topic is a political football being tossed around in the court of public opinion, though there’s that. In the history of Title IX, today’s complainers of government “overreach” in dealing with sexual assaults have a lot in common with college football teams and other men’s sports, but especially football. What they want, it seems, is for people to realize that they’re special, and that they deserve special rules. The government more than once has bent over backwards […]

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Happy birthday, Title IX! (from some of us)

Title IX is 45 years old this month! Imagine having your logic, your morality, and even your right to exist constantly being questioned for 45 years — essentially, what most women encounter in overt or subtle ways in our sexist society. You’d be tired of this nonsense by now, right? That’s what Title IX has faced since Congress passed it and President Nixon signed it on June 23, 1972. Fortunately, enough people understand the need to prohibit sex discrimination in education and have benefited from Title IX, giving this law the strength to persist. Compare the muscles and skills of today’s female […]

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Nevertheless, she persisted

Part of the fun of researching Title IX history is seeing the chain of women’s activism linking so many “foremother” feminists in politics with bad-ass female public servants of today, backed by the wider women’s movement. Progress is never simple; they lobbied, persuaded, bargained, defied, and often had to trust that their efforts would cumulate into unstoppable momentum toward equity. “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the media in February, 2017 after he used an arcane Senate rule to cut off Sen. Elizabeth Warren mid-speech. Warren had been reading a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott […]

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Senators should ask DeVos about Title IX

The U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has at least another week to consider what it will ask Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos since it delayed her nomination hearing from Jan. 11th to next Wednesday, Jan. 18. My suggestion: Ask her about Title IX. Does she understand that it’s a civil law operating under civil procedures, not criminal ones? Does she agree that Title IX is important for elementary and secondary schools as well as higher educational institutions? Is she aware that it’s about so much more than the hot-button issues of sports or sexual assault or transgender bathrooms? For the […]

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Journalists ignore women’s sports

I saw ghosts in October. I could sense that female athletes were out there being sportsy and all, but in my local newspaper mostly they were invisible. I decided, on an irritated whim, to monitor the San Francisco Chronicle’s coverage of women’s sports for one month and write a Letter to the Editor each day, a horrifying exercise that left me cursing the Chronicle. Jump to the Oct. 31 letter below for a recap and the curse. Or follow along in these excerpts: Oct. 1: 10 pages, 22 stories, 13 photos. Women = 2 sentences. Nothing on the two exciting WNBA […]

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Running for president, long before Hillary

History turns a page this week when Hillary Clinton becomes the first female candidate for U.S. President to be nominated by a major political party. In the spirit of this blog’s weaving of historical and contemporary threads, you might enjoy The Guardian’s article on Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President, or The Smithsonian’s article on the same topic. Many of the foremothers of Title IX who have been profiled on this blog are contemporaries of Sen. Clinton and entered government service in some fashion in the 1960s and 1970s. See this earlier post for a fun photo […]

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Lobbyists, Congressional staff influenced Title IX

[Videos feature Judy Norrell, former lobbyist for the League of Women Voters, and Barbara Dixon, former staff person for Sen. Birch Bayh.] Title IX wasn’t just an act of Congress, nor did it come simply from the demands of women’s activist organizations. There’s plenty of overlap between insiders and outsiders in Washington, D.C. and varying degrees of insider- or outsider-ness depending on the person and the situation. Women were small in number compared with men working in the nation’s capitol in the 1970s, which made it easier, in some ways, to find each other and collaborate as both insiders and outsiders. Female […]

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