In the 1980s, Title IX and other civil tights laws faced significant challenges within a political climate of Reaganism and the growing strength of the alliance between the New Right and the Religious Right. In the 1980s two major events impacted all civil rights legislation based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The first was the Grove City College v. Bell (1984) Supreme Court decision and the second was the 1987 Civil Rights Restoration Act passed over the veto of President Reagan in 1988. This article examines the public discourse of these events through a critical media reading of mainstream newspaper coverage throughout the 1980s, highlighting the central role of Title IX in the debate over civil rights. This examination highlights the importance of dominant discourse in the enforcement of civil rights laws, as well as in the resulting lack of opportunity development over time.
Theresa A. Walton
To critically investigate mainstream media representations of female high school wrestling within the broader sociocultural and historical context of the 1990s and early 2000s, I employ a critical cultural studies perspective with an eye toward understanding intersecting power relations (Birrell & McDonald, 2000; McDonald & Birrell, 1999). Several reoccurring themes emerged highlighting the gendered tensions surrounding girls wrestling boys: female wrestling not being taken seriously; worries about girls’ safety; questions of how to understand female’s motivations to wrestle; and the effects of female wrestling on male participants and the sport itself The main underlying concern relates to wrestling being a male preserve, which works to define masculinity. Media attention demonstrates the cultural work that the sport of wrestling does in maintaining, and potentially resisting, gender norms and relationships. While girls’ wrestling might offer resistant or transformative potential, mainstream media, in this case, primarily works to support masculine hegemony in wrestling.