Friday, January 19, 2007


Yes, that's the childish reaction I had to this "review"* by Larry Pratt of National Review editor Kate O'Beirne's new book on how feminism is ruining the country. In part because it contained this passage on sports:
"The feminist attack has led schools to do away with entire sports teams because they were all male. The teams might have remained if standards could have been lowered for say, the wrestling team. But with not enough women interested in the team – either on a segregated or integrated basis, and if the offending teams violated the school’s overall politically correct gender ratios – the teams were abolished."
Pratt seems to be referring to Title IX here but in a very abstract and, of course, incorrect way.
Where to begin? Where to begin?
First, "the feminist attack" is problematic in part because most of the complaints filed citing discrimination in athletics come from individuals who probably do not consider themselves feminists--and certainly not the radical feminists O'Beirne demonizes. And the cutting of teams is done by institutions who actually think it might be a good idea to comply with a federal statute.
Second, the idea of lowering standards to allow for co-ed teams is just offensive. But Pratt's belief that women wouldn't fill the spots is wrong. Women are interested in sports like wrestling and football where their only option would be to compete on men's teams because there are no women's teams at the high school and collegiate levels. But women are not really welcomed in these sports. "Interest" is heavily influenced by the society we live in and when you are abused verbally and physically and sexually for wanting to play football or wrestle, your "interest" might go down a bit.
Of course if you live in Texas and are a girl wanting to wrestle. You're out of luck once you turn 14. No co-ed wrestling past that age.
I can't imagine O'Beirne's book is worth reading but I hope she did a little better than Pratt and at least got her facts about Title IX right.

* I use the term review with some hesitation given that most of it was just Pratt using the space to soapbox his own rants.

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