It’s Time to Loosen Title IX

The perceived roles and abilities of women have changed much since the days before women’s suffrage, yet many stereotypes persist. Notably, men have more of an interest in participating in or following sports. The existence of such a stereotype does not suggest sexism; rather, there is likely some truth to that stereotype. This skewed gender ratio is present in recreational sports. Given those same preferences, one would expect that a higher percentage of collegiate men than women would be interested in participating in varsity athletics. Likewise, a higher percentage of women would be interested in participating in other activities, such as dance. Our free country and our great university allow us to pursue whatever activities we are passionate about.

Nowhere in life do we see the proportional representation between sexes that activists seek. Why should we demand it on the athletic field, of all places?

In order to impel female students to take advantage of educational and extracurricular opportunities and to ensure that such opportunities, for example athletics, were available to female students, Title IX was passed in 1972. In 1998, six years after female athletes first sued the University on Title IX grounds, Brown agreed to keep the percentage of athletes that are female within 3.5 percentage points of the female percentage of the student body. As a result of this quota, it may be easier for a female athlete than male athletes to walk onto or be recruited onto a varsity team. Is that the kind of equality we strive for? To provide some artificial handicap to balance our numbers in order to achieve near equal participation?

As a female student-athlete, I have appreciated the opportunities and facilities available to female athletes. Athletics has defined my time at Brown, and I want such opportunities to be available to all students, male and female. Specific quotas should not be necessary to create these opportunities.

I am not arguing that Title IX has necessarily caused much damage or lack of opportunities to male athletes. Admittedly, there has not been a significant decline in male athletic participation since it was enacted. Rather, in an age of true equality, maintaining quotas for male and female athletes should not be necessary.

Title IX has gained most of its attention in the athletic realm, but it is also applicable within athletic disciplines. However, there is no mandate that women be proportionally represented in concentrations such as engineering and computer science; women simply must have the same opportunities as men.One of the best parts of our freedom is our ability to pursue whatever interest us. Based on inherent biological differences, men, on average, are more athletic and more interested in sports than women. Why should we interfere with the gender ratio in athletics rather than allow it to be whatever ratio it would be naturally?

If we want to make women proportionally represented, why would we not, by the same logic, enforce percentages of each minority who must participate in athletics? Imagine the outcry that would result if we limited the number of athletes of one minority in order to “benefit” students of another minority.

While we strive for equality between the genders, that equality does not have to be so forced. Title IX should not be eliminated entirely, but it could perhaps be slightly relaxed or adapted to meet the demographic of a confident, independent student body that does not need to wait for an engraved invitation to take the initiative to jump into athletics.

 

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