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Critical Thinking

The support from schools needs to be unilateral and systemic from all faculty and staff regarding gender equity in sports and physical education. The most important thing to consider is to have a united front on all levels, where no faculty members are engaging in or encouraging discriminatory or inflammatory behavior. Women and girl athletes should be encouraged to join sports, and all detrimental behavior or comments that discourage them need to be swiftly dealt with. This would minimize the feeling of ‘rocking the boat’ that is being described, and allow more gender equity in athletics.
I think the title ” Lost in Litigation” implies that a great deal of meaning or progress was lost in the process of litigating the cases regarding gender equity. It is entirely possible that, in the wake of the political firestorm that likely ensued from such a controversial case, the individual people who were actually fighting for their own gender equity in education were lost in the shuffle. The fight was no longer about them; it was about the cause. I feel as though the lack of research hurt gender equity greatly, as people cast their opinion based on what they were used to – boys playing sports, and girls staying at home far away from athletics.

The commercial ” If You Let Me Play” is a fantastic one, as it reaches beyond the immediate advantages of allowing women to do what they want and retain their personhood. In fact, it demonstrates the character-building that is so sorely desired and needed in impressionable young girls – the ability to get out of abusive relationships, the ability to stay healthy, and the confidence to succeed in life. The commercial’s thesis is that, if women were allowed to play sports early, they would gain these personality traits and build character, which extends to the rest of their lives. By permitting girls to play, Nike implies that they will be helping these girls to grow into strong women. I feel like younger women would celebrate the chance to participate that the message implies, while older women may either resent the message because they did not get the chance to, or think they did fine on their own.

It may be possible to ‘desexualize’ female athletes in certain ways in order to focus the attention of the public more on their performance and sportsmanship. Making sure that sports uniforms are unisex, and not absurdly making women wear scantily-clad clothing (or wear things that expose their midriff just for the sake of titillation) would go a long way toward leveling the playing field. Perhaps discouraging female athletes from taking sponsorships for somewhat chauvanistic products (lingerie, photo shoots for Playboy and Maxim) would remove that ‘sex-bomb’ image and allow them to just be a sportswoman. However, I do not think these strategies should be imposed unless the female athlete wants to – she should be free to express herself and conduct her career any way she likes.

In order to deal with the problems of sexual assault and harassment, Title IX can change in several ways. First, it can create laws that will actively seek harsh punishments for those being legislated against for those particular crimes. Those who conduct sexual assault and harassment against women should have minimum sentences established by Title IX and be singled out for prosecution on those grounds. Perhaps extending responsibility for other members of institutions under which the harassment occurs (principals, coaches, etc.) would encourage institutions to crack down on that harassment even further.

I feel as though it is a fine line to walk between sexualizing women and allowing women to sexualize themselves. One has to consider a number of factors, and decide in what contexts are women being used as sex objects for men, and when women are merely exerting their own sexuality. Perhaps women being allowed to use their own clothing or their sports uniform for endorsement deals, and having control over what clothes they get to wear will allow them to prevent showing any skin they do not want to. This places the control in the hands of the woman, who then dictates the terms of her own expression of sexuality.

I feel that, even though legislation has more or less caught up with gender equity, attitudes still have not. Many CEOs and executives grew up and started their careers back when women were not allowed in the workplace – even when rampant sexism and sexual affairs were common practice. As a result, many men in positions of power still do not take women seriously, and have mistaken notions about what women are capable of. Perhaps they also feel threatened by powerful women, as they do not feel in control any longer. Either way, I do feel like it is a case of the majority of the powerful male workforce that has not gotten used to women, and therefore affords them fewer opportunities for advancement and income.

I do not feel the inequality is due to any lack of desire by women to tackle those difficult subjects. Cultural norms are still getting out of the phase where women do not have to work; they are usually asked to stay at home and take care of children. They were likely raised to believe that they did not need to try at school, and that they merely need to find a man who will take care of them. Women are just as capable of handling these tough occupations as men, but the patriarchal society of the 20th century in particular has ingrained the ideas that ‘women are not good at math/science/etc.’ into the heads of many people, including women. As a result, women, buying into the myth or not being given the proper encouragement, are being sidelined.

I sincerely hope that women’s participation in sports will become normal, but many fundamental regulations regarding women in sports are still designed to prevent them from performing outright. Usually, all-women’s sports leagues (e. g. WNBA) are established, but there is still the cultural stigma that women and men should not play sports together. With that in mind, there are many different things that have to change, including complete integration in sports, for that to reach the same levels of equality.

The CNN article shows the interesting ideas that many coaches have regarding femininity and sports. The coach believed that, in order for women to perform better, they had to be men, and so he snuck hormones and steroids into her without her knowledge. It also demonstrated a total lack of trust in her and lack of respect for her abilities as a sportswoman. However, the ” Let Me Play” ad seems to have had a different effect on women in America, as the ” generation after Nike” article demonstrates that women in sports have more self-confidence, and have better character after being allowed to express themselves through sports.