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Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law…

Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of…

by Karen Blumenthal

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I never really thought much about Title IX. Like most people, I assumed it just dealt with girls being allowed to play sports. I have absolutely no interest in sports, never played, and am pretty skeptical about all the "building teamwork" claims, but I'm a strong advocate for girls doing anything they want to do.

However, reading this book was fascinating and I learned there was so much more to Title IX than I had thought. Blumenthal walks the readers through a history of Title IX, giving snapshots of key personages along the way, along with personal stories of girls and women affected by the act and statistics of how it changed educational opportunities for women. The author does a really good job of condensing the many complicated issues, groups, and people down into a cohesive narrative.

Unfortunately, with all the photos being black and white and the poor design of the book I'm not sure I would be able to convince any kids to pick this up and read it. The layout is confusing and oddly random, breaking up paragraphs and even sentences and it gives an overall cluttered feel to what's really a very strong narrative. It's also directed at older readers, middle school more than middle grade, and nonfiction is a hard sell for that group.

Verdict: I enjoyed reading this and found it very educational; I'm definitely going to remember to buy more sports books featuring girls next time I have a shot at updating the sports section (periodically I try to do this and usually end up just sighing and letting it go again). It would be great if publishers had more series featuring contemporary female athletes. However, I probably won't buy this book for my library.

ISBN: 0689859570; Published 2005 by Atheneum; Borrowed from another library in my consortium
  JeanLittleLibrary | Mar 28, 2014 |
I really enjoyed the way this book was organized. The story itself was a great narrative, but enriching the main text were player profiles and instant replays which provided background information and personal stories. The scorecards plainly showed the astounding influence Title IX had on sports and education, and the cartoons were a delight. ( )
  Tables | Jan 29, 2014 |
Why isn't this required reading? Why aren't half of these names found regularly in history textbooks? Watching women's health care and title X slowly being taken away I think Patty Mink's warning of what has been won can just as quickly be taken away could not ring truer today. ( )
  thelukewarm225 | Apr 3, 2013 |
A comprehensive history of Title IX.
  jdjohn | Jun 25, 2010 |
Richie's Picks: LET ME PLAY: THE STORY OF TITLE IX, THE LAW THAT CHANGED THE FUTURE OF GIRLS IN AMERICA by Karen Blumenthal, Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, June 2005, ISBN: 0-689-85957-0

"Female admissions to colleges and graduate programs picked up speed, driven by female ambition, the law, and a growing acceptance that it was simply wrong to reject someone just for being a girl. Between 1971 and 1976 the number of women attending college jumped 40 percent. By the fall of 1976 one in every four law students was a woman, up from fewer than one in ten in 1971; likewise, a quarter of first-year medical students were female, up from about one in seven just five years before."

Last weekend at Book Expo in New York City, I had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with Patricia Macias. At publishing conventions, Patricia is known as the wife of author Ben Saenz. But back home in El Paso, she is more frequently referred to as "Your Honor."

As I wandered the exhibition halls at Book Expo, I frequently got the chance to catch up with old friends in the publishing industry. Many of the women I've known for years who are employed by the large publishing houses now have titles like "President & Publisher" or "Vice President and Associate Publisher." They not only have the positions; they have the power that accompanies those titles.

I also had the opportunity at Book Expo to chat briefly with my favorite member of the United States Senate. I feel so fortunate to be represented by Barbara Boxer who, like me, grew up in New York and moved westward. When we first elected Barbara to the US Senate in 1992, having her join Diane Feinstein there in representing California, it was the first time in US history that two women Senators were representing the same state at the same time.

Myra Bradwell would have though that it was long past time.

"In 1869, Mrs. Bradwell passed the Illinois bar exam with high honors and turned in her application to practice law. Though she easily qualified, she was turned down because she was a married woman. She filed a lawsuit, but the Illinois Supreme Court turned her down too, saying that her sex was 'a sufficient reason for not granting this license.'
"In one of the nation's first sex discrimination cases she appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But America's top court had a different view than she did. 'Man is, or should be, woman's protector and defender,' the Court wrote in 1873. 'The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life.' It concluded: 'The paramount destiny and mission of woman [is] to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator.' "

It does not require looking back a hundred and something years to the life of Myra Bradwell (who, we learn, persevered to become America's first female lawyer) in order to recall when things were really unfair for women in America. I grew up a youngster not all THAT long ago, in a world where women didn't have the same opportunities as men to go to college, didn't have the same opportunities as men to work in many fields, to attain the highest positions in business, government, or education, to get paid the same money for the same work, and sure as heck didn't have the same athletic opportunities as their male counterparts.

As recalled in LET ME PLAY by Karen Blumenthal, it was in 1964 (when I turned nine, the same year the Beatles first came to America), that a Southern segregationist in Congress unintentionally played an important role in promoting women's rights when he "proposed adding the word 'sex' to the section [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964], so that it would forbid job discrimination against women as well as blacks." Congressman Howard W. Smith of Virginia was figuring that adding such an amendment would cause the male-dominated Congress to quickly sink the entire Act including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the historic Civil Rights legislation would create. That Smith's plan backfired and the legislation passed meant for the first time in our history that it was illegal to pay a woman differently than a man employed in the same position as she.

"State universities in Virginia had turned away 21,000 women in the early 1960s; during the same time not a single man was turned away."

While the author takes us back to the 1800s and forward to the 1960s in setting the stage, the overwhelming focus of her fascinating and important book about women in America is on the fight for passage of and subsequent fights over enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as well as the far-reaching changes in our country that resulted from that landmark legislation.

Blumenthal's well-documented story of Title IX is interspersed with illuminating profiles and photos of notable twentieth century female athletes who got badly cheated by being born in the backward days of the earlier 1900s, along with great profiles of the federal legislative heroes responsible for Title IX passage, and a terrific assortment of strips from Doonesbury, Tank McNamara, Peanuts and other daily comics and political cartoons that shed light on the legislation and the issues behind it.

"At the University of Georgia the budget for women's sports grew to $120,000 in 1978 from $1,000 in 1973, but the men received $2.5 million. Among the differences: The men on the golf team got all the golf balls they needed. Women golfers got one for each competitive round they played."

If the words of the "stupid white men" on the Supreme Court in the 1870s seem like something from the Dark Ages, readers will discover that the ignorance of those words is easily matched by what Ronald Reagan and his minions did to try and destroy Title IX in the 1980s. I can't imagine any woman who's aware of what Reagan and Bush One carried out in those years not gagging over the current President's recent words that "We are blessed to live in a Nation, and a world, that have been shaped by the will, the leadership, and the vision of Ronald Reagan." I'd say there's a serious lack of vision when you've got your head in the place that Reagan obviously had his when it came to women's rights.

But now the question is, is the battle finally won?

When we consider what portion of Congress and Senate seats are currently filled by the majority gender in America, when we look at what portion of the CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations are female, or when we look at the gender of the Presidents of the nation's most distinguished universities, we must conclude that there is a long way to go.

A report released by the AAUW back when this week's high school graduates were in kindergarten found that "boys' expectations were built up while girls' were whittled back." That's THIS generation, not mine or a previous generation.

And lest anyone suggest the glass half-filled attitude, I'd hasten to suggest that they consider trading places and then claim that things are moving along quickly enough.

Edith Green, a major figure in the story, was fond of the saying: "The trouble with every generation is that they haven't read the minutes of the last meeting." Thanks to Karen Blumenthal, we now have an accurate set of minutes available from a pivotal episode in recent American history.

Richie Partington
BudNotBuddy@aol.com ( )
  richiespicks | May 22, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689859570, Hardcover)

Can girls play softball? Can girls be school crossing guards? Can girls play basketball or ice hockey or soccer? Can girls become lawyers or doctors or engineers?

Of course they can...

today. But just a few decades ago, opportunities for girls were far more limited, not because they weren't capable of playing or didn't want to become doctors or lawyers, but because they weren't allowed to. Then quietly, in 1972, something momentous happened: Congress passed a law called "Title IX," forever changing the lives of American girls.

Hundreds of determined lawmakers, teachers, parents, and athletes carefully plotted to ensure that the law was passed, protected, and enforced. Time and time again, they were pushed back by Þerce opposition. But as a result of their perseverance, millions of American girls can now play sports. Young women make up half of the nation's medical and law students, and star on the best basketball, soccer, and softball teams in the world. This small law made a huge difference.

From the Sibert Honor-winning author of Six Days in October comes this powerful tale of courage and persistence, the stories of the people who believed that girls could do anything -- and were willing to fight to prove it.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:35 -0400)

Up until the 1970s, if you were a girl, you were told you shouldn't play team sports, or go to college. But, in 1972, Title IX changed that, by ensuring that girls have the same opportunities as boys to participate in sports and classes. But that change did not come without a fight.… (more)

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