Title IX Gender Equity, Backlash and Ideology

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal

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Susan L. GreendorferDepartment of Kinesiology University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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This paper analyzes the ideological discourse that socializes us into ways of thinking about gender equity and Title IX. My contention is that the ideological principle of equity which underlies Title IX is on a collision course with cultural beliefs that contribute to a patriarchal gender ideology. Socially constructed meanings and beliefs that interpret gender difference as gender hierarchy not only contribute to dominant gender ideology but are also a critical ingredient of the process of socialization. As a cultural process influenced by hegemonic beliefs about gender, we are socialized into values and beliefs anchored in patriarchy that hegemonically construct sport as masculine. Ideologically, Title IX, which is based on feminist notions of equality, challenges these cultural constructions because it allows for alternative readings of sport, masculine bodies, feminine bodies, and the gendered nature of physicality. The discourse of backlash, a component of hegemonic socialization steeped in gender hierarchy, offers resistance to notions of equality (Title IX), which can be viewed as counterhegemonic. In opposition to the symbolic as well as legal challenge of Title IX, which problematizes the organizational culture of sport, the discourse of backlash offers one way of preserving hegemonic gender ideology.

The author wishes to thank the anonymous reviewers for their commentary and discussion.

Table I (History of Title IX, Legislation, Regulation and Policy Interpretation) is available on the intemet (http://www.arcade.uiowa.edu/proj/ge/history.html)

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