If asked, most masculists will tell you that masculist activism is not an attack on femininity or the human rights of women and girls. Many of them will quote from Jezebel.com writing full of claims about all of the harm masculists don’t want to do to women (in the midst of a post admitting that woman-hating is “a thing,”) and blaming any discrimination women face on the phantom concept of “matriarchy.”
Many examples can be found to show that the article and its claims are false. The twisting of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is one that speaks loud and clear, and men’s advocates defend its discriminatory use the same way: by passing the buck and shifting blame. When confronted with evidence that it isn’t Title IX’s quota system which ensures male participation, men’s advocates respond with excuses, rhetoric, and unsupported complaints about money, and attempt to shout down anyone who disagrees.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was passed in order to amend previous acts affecting the public education system to bar educational institutions from discriminating against students or student applicants on the basis of sex.
The amendment was originally proposed as a measure to end discriminatory quotas that limited male college admissions. It stipulates that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” According to TitleIX.info’s history page, the law covers 10 key areas in education: Access to Higher Education, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Athletics, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing, and Technology.
So how did it end up being used as it is today?
For that, we have to look to policy set up by the Department of Education, not the law itself.
Section 431(d)(1) of the General Education Provisions Act allows Education Department policies to become regulations by a kind of default process. Policy is transmitted to Congress 60 days after its creation. If Congress does not disapprove within 45 days after that, it becomes regulation. By this process, the department has slowly twisted the law’s original application from a means to ensure equal access to education into an attack on athletic programs and from a position against discriminatory limitations to a position enforcing them.
In 1979, the department issued an interpretation of Title IX that measured compliance in educational institutions using a three-part test. Schools could demonstrate compliance by any one of the three means.
(1) The number of female and male athletes is substantially proportionate to their respective enrolments; or
(2) The institution has a history and continuing practice of expanding participation opportunities responsive to the developing interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex; or
(3) The institution is fully and effectively accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.
The second and third tests are problematic for obvious reasons. A history of expansion is easy to show, but continuing practice is necessarily limited. An institution attempting to expand participation opportunities will eventually run out of sports to add or funding to spend on new programs. Further, the institution’s attempts to expand will be limited by the interests of the group itself.
Accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex sounds good, but how does one quantify those factors? Men’s groups disapproved of a 2005 attempt. To date, no functional method for this has been deemed universally acceptable, and administrators are left to consider attempts to use this standard as a measure of compliance a gamble at best.
Administrators for educational institutions have found the first test easiest to meet, by eliminating men’s status as “underrepresented.” The policy is written with the presumption that an unequal outcome is always due to inequality of opportunity, and educational institutions have been consistently targeted on that basis. Because of this, the policy has become a strict quota system. If 57% of a university’s students are female and 43% are male, then 57% of that university’s athletes can be female but 43% must be male. If fewer male students take an interest in sports so that only 30% of the university’s athletes are male, Education Department policy requires the university to take measures as described in the three-prong test to correct the imbalance.
This leaves administrators with a hard choice. The expectation is that when faced with scrutiny of their athletic program by the state, complaints, or legal action by men’s groups, they will recruit more male students to participate in sports and fund more male athletic programs than male students take interest in on their own. However, the practical application of the policy has not necessarily resulted in such expansion of opportunities for male athletes but instead in universities limiting female participation and even eliminating female athletic teams to meet the goal of having their participation percentages match their population percentages. That has become the standard method among post-secondary educational institutions. Female athletic teams are being subjected to participation caps or eliminated altogether to ensure that schools aren’t penalized for failing to comply with Title IX.
Masculists have claimed that complaints about this are unwarranted and that universities are maintaining large football programs, which do not garner male interest and have no approved male counterpart, instead of promoting men’s teams. However, at many schools, football programs keep alumni engaged in the continuing activities of the institution and attract both students and donors. Rather than robbing men’s programs of needed funding, they break even or even bring in a profit. This helps to provide the funds needed to finance other athletic team programs, including men’s programs, yet women’s program cuts still occur in these schools. The cutting trend also occurs in the absence of a football team. While some men’s advocates blame football, others have attempted to stack the deck by defining the term athletic to exclude athletic activity in which more men than women take an interest, further skewing the statistics on which the quota system is measured. All things considered, blaming football is a red herring at best and at worst another masculist attack on female interests.
Despite evidence contradicting their reasoning, men’s advocacy in regard to Title IX continues to support the quota system, keeping universities in the position of making the decision to cut when they cannot otherwise comply. As a result, women’s teams continue to be targeted. Positions on various teams including wrestling, gymnastics, and track and field are being eliminated by school administrations to avoid being denied funding because they cannot increase male athletic engagement enough to equal female interest in competitive sports. Now, building on the momentum of previous efforts, proponents of the quota system are working to expand its application into high school sports.
Masculists use the claim that interscholastic athletics used to be a girls club that excluded men as an excuse for defending quotas, yet prevailing trends demonstrate that quotas aren’t helping to open opportunities for men. They’re instead being used to eliminate opportunities for women. This is not providing a benefit to anyone. It isn’t increasing opportunities for athletic participation among male students. It is reducing opportunities for female students when male interest is not as high. It is accepted not because it is helping but because with the genders reversed the public does not recognize it for what it is: exactly the type of discriminatory policy that the law was originally written to eliminate.