“You really know sports—for a girl.”
All my life, those words have been directed at me. This is because sports, despite massive steps in the right direction, is still a male-dominated realm.
Forty years ago, Title IX, part of the Educational Amendment of 1972 to the Civil Rights Act, was passed in the United States of America. This ensured women would not be discriminated against in educational programs, including sports.
Presently, Title IX is celebrated both in the U.S. and Canada for what it helped to achieve—acceptance of women playing on a school soccer team, just like their male classmates. But beyond the schoolyard, has female athletics taken the strides it should have?
Female sports have come a long way from where they were, but we’re not even close to being where we should be.
There are bright spots, though.
At the upcoming Olympics in London, England, women will compete in boxing for the first time. And in stark contrast to other professional sports where females make peanuts compared to males, professional tennis has awarded equal prize money to both genders at each of its Grand Slam events since 2007.
We’ve made strides, but now one little web series could ruin everything.
A blog called “While the Men Watch,” announced its partnership with the CBC—Canada’s national broadcaster—during the Stanley Cup Finals.
Creators of the blog Lena Sutherland and Jules Mancuso claimed to have grown sick of their hockey-crazed husbands during playoff season. I can only assume Sutherland and Mancuso live in a one-room home, because obviously leaving the room and doing something other than watching sports with their husbands was not an option.
So they launched their own commentary featuring riveting discussions about sex games, coach makeovers and other “female-friendly” topics because, really, what woman can focus on a moving puck when there are rugged, sweaty men on screen?
That was sarcasm. I’m none too pleased with CBC’s decision to back this project. Also unimpressed were scores of sports fans—both female and male alike—who argued this was an example of blatant sexism and should not be tolerated, much less supported by our national broadcaster.
As professional female hockey players everywhere struggle to be seen in the same galaxy as NHL players, CBC promotes a series that implies that, while the men watch and understand the game, women would rather discuss fashion and sex—so much for progress.
Now I know one online blog won’t slingshot us back into the ‘50s, but this kind of thing doesn’t exactly help the case for equality of female sports.
Sure, thanks to Title IX, women have every right to participate in sports along with men. But in reality, female athletes still remain in another league.