Setting the Record Straight: Title IX, Gender Equity, and The Independent Women’s Forum

MODERN FEMINISM BEGAN some thirty years ago as a movement to liberate women. The goal of the movement was to enable women to use their talents, choose their careers and realize their potential. The current agenda of the feminist movement, however, could not have strayed any farther from its venerable origins. For as the original goals of equal opportunity were achieved, the movement mutated into a radical power play that adopted the discriminatory and result-based tenets of liberal philosophy.

Title IX of the Civil Rights Act exemplifies how the ideology of radical feminism has transformed the early aspirations of equality and fairness into a program of discrimination and gender-based outcomes. In collegiate sports for example, universities and colleges who recieve federal funds are required to provide equal opportunities to men and women. But because men tend to participate in sports at higher rates than women, university administrators—under pressure both to comply with Title IX and balance their budgets—resort simply to cutting men’s athletic slots in order to avoid the charge that women are “under-represented.” Indeed, more than 17,000 male athletes have been summarily denied the opportunity to participate in college sports as a result of the “exact proportionalty” standard that has been dubiously promulgated under Title IX

The most disturbing byproduct of Title IX, perhaps, is that women have come to believe that women’s progress is dependent upon the implementation of legislation. Those who would claim that this is the case, however, only help to make the case that further progress demands further federal laws. And framing the progress of women in this way not only denies women the very recognition they surely deserve, but paves the way for more intrusion into the personal lives of men and women across the country.

By serving as the blunt instrument wielded by federal judges and bureaucrats in the name of “gender equity,” Title IX demeans the legitimate athletic accomplishments of women. And demanding that women participate in athletics at the same rate as men under the artificial rubric of “proportionality,” not only ignores legitimate differences between men and women, but legitimate differences among women. We are not all athletes, and we are not all scholars. We look to ourselves, not the government, to know the difference.

Title IX undermines equal opportunity by forcing colleges and universities to eliminate men’s opportunities to participate in sports in order to provide few or no new opportunities for women. This is not combating discrimination against women but enforcing quotas against men and minorities. And what the government gives, it can just as easily take away. Today, the losers are men in wrestling, baseball, swimming and a host of other sports; but tomorrow, the victims of Title IX could be women denied their wish to major in French or Psychology. Who is ready to see science, math and engineering departments shrunk in size because they fail to attract “sufficient” numbers of women?

Current concerns about Title IX center on its implementation in sports, but the bureaucratic and feminist elites who have long favored the proportional implementation of Title IX are now embarking on an effort to expand its enforcement in all areas of the academy. The president, having expressed support for this initiative, has recently asked all of the federal departments to redouble their enforcement of Title IX. We cannot let this happen. At issue is not Title IX itself, which simply and correctly outlaws discrimination on the basis of gender, but the very basis of individuality and human dignity.

The only viable and lasting solution is to return to the original intent of Title IX. We must stop the wholesale elimination of men’s athletic opportunities under Title IX and halt its expansion into other areas of the academy. But before this can happen, a coordinated national campaign must be waged to educate fair-minded citizens and legislators alike about the current danger to sporting programs presented by Title IX.

Why is a group of women taking a stand against the enforcement of a law originally designed to benefit women? Because we at the Independent Women’s Forum reject the liberal syllogistic defense of government intrusion and believe in the ability of women. Title IX long ago ceased to be an effort to guarantee equal opportunities to all and became instead a crusade to allocate opportunities based on pre-determined group outcomes.

The Independent Women’s Forum is a national organization of women dedicated to the principles of individual liberty and personal responsibility, and to the imperative of equal opportunity for all Americans. Despite its laudible original intent, Title IX, as currently enforced, manages to offend each of these principles.

The Independent Women’s Forum is commited to reforming the corrupt interpretation of Title IX and “gender-preferenced” programs. Promoting these ideas, the Independent Women’s Forum recently published a book entitled Women’s Figures: The Economic Progress of Women in America, and regularly publishes The Women’s Quarterly, and the newsletter Ex Femina.

Ms. Blair is Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Independent Women’s Forum. Ms. Gavora is Project Manager for the Independent Women’s Forum.