Many of you will be wondering what Title IX is and why is it relevant with the topic of this blog. Let’s begin with what it actually is. Well, it is a federal law. Title IX was the enactment of the Education Amendments of 1972. The law states:
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 educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
This law applies to all the educational programs and activities in the US. It’s commonly believed that Title IX only applies to sports, but this belief is inaccurate. It also includes the following areas:
Access to higher education, career education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, standardized testing, and technology.
In every area of their lives especially at sports, girls and women faced discrimination, racism, homophobia and prejudice. They were led to believe that being a part of a sports team made them unattractive and will ruin their chances of marriage. The accusation that “women playing sports was proof of lesbianism” was clearly untrue and sexist.
Directly after Title IX was passed, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and some high school administrators disagreed with the law and said that boys “sports would suffer if girls” sports had to be funded equally.
Due to the fact that the passage of the bill didn’t get much attention something needed to be done and fast. In 1973 a woman tennis athlete by the name of Billie Jean King won one match and changed everything. I am reffering of course to the most popular match of the century where she faced Bobby Riggs in “The Battle of the Sexes“. This nationally televised match/event brought the issue of women’s sports and feminism to the national stage. King, who wasn’t able to get a tennis scholarship at her university campaigned for higher and equal pay for women tennis players. With great difficulties caused by sports media and some women tennis players, she orchistrated successful professional leagues for women all over the country.
After her 1973 match with Riggs, Billie Jean King changed the way women looked at themselves. She made women realize their potential and how much they can achieve if they stand together. “I just had to play,” King stated a couple of weeks later. “Title IX had just passed, and I wanted to change the hearts and minds of people to match the legislation.”
King’s leadership as well as the passage of Title IX created an environment where women’s sports could flourish; and that is exactly what happened. The same year the US Open awarded both men and women equally for the first time ever and tennis became the first sport in history to provide equal pay.
This was one of the greatest achievement the women’s movement have achieved over the decades. It’s really hard to picture a world where young women couldn’t go to many colleges and universities and sports scholarships were rarely granted. And this happened just 40 years ago. Title IX gave women equal opportunities and benefits as the men’s. It was the first step towards achieving equality among the sexes.