This project employs a policy feedback framework to analyze how American political institutions grapple with inequities in educational settings, and how policy design and implementation matter for social change. Using archival data and quantitative data, I explore how political battles over the implementation of Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 have shifted social and political understandings of sex and gender. I argue that battles over the implementation and meanings of the law's application to athletics have recursively altered political meanings of sexed bodies and political repertoires of gender. Further, debates over the meaning of policy have constituted the "female athlete" as a political figure germane to Title IX's policy domain, as well as broader social change over the past forty years. This dissertation historicizes the politics of Title IX, focusing mainly on the implicit definition and application of its central clause, "on the basis of sex", to the domain of athletics (and sports vis-à-vis classrooms). Throughout, the work is guided by my main research question: How have battles over the implementation of Title IX altered political and social understandings of sex and gender? Each chapter analyzes a different decade in order to illustrate the difficulties in settling cultural change (especially to gender roles) through political intervention and rights-based legislation. Attention to the politics of sex inherent to sports in Title IX illustrates how policy has cemented certain embodied understandings of what sex (and sex at the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and ability) means. In sports, "sex" is defined as a category of the body, and this meaning has been re-naturalized through political battles of the past forty years. Athletics were not mentioned in the original congressional legislation, but institutions of American government charged with implementing the law quickly became embroiled in debates over how to address severe disparities in college athletic opportunities between women and men. Throughout the 1970s, sports emerged as the most politically contentious realm of Title IX's implementation. Over the past forty years, the application of the law to sports has fueled more persistent political clashes regarding the meaning of equality than has its application to educational settings. I argue that a tension between "sex-blind" enforcement in education and "sex-conscious" guidelines for sport continues to fuel political battles over the law. Consequently, this policy designed to end discrimination "on the basis of sex" came to naturalize sex as a characteristic of bodies. Title IX's policy design did so in the realm of sports, but not in classrooms. Classrooms were by and large sex-integrated, educating girls and boys in the same spaces "regardless of their sex". Sports, were sex-segregated, first dividing girls from boys into different spaces, "by virtue of their sex". This on-going mechanism of policy design constitutes what I refer to as the "Paradox of Title IX", and this work demonstrates how it has developed and been reified through political battles over the policy. The history of sports as a U.S. policy domain demonstrates how policy development and political battles can come to generate unexpected and uneven outcomes and tensions, even within purportedly "successful" policy interventions. Although Title IX has had many positive outcomes, applying an intersectional lens helps to understand some of the law's on-going limitations.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2013. Major: Political Science. Advisor: Dara Strolovitch. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 369 pages.
Forty Years on the basis of sex: Title IX, the "Female Athlete" and the Political Construction of Sex and Gender.
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