My last post on Title IX as it relates to contact sports was meant to be educational -- a report on what the law is, rather than what it should be. Clearly, however, I am enamored of the notion of women playing contact sports. There is really no good physical reason I can think of why women couldn't or shouldn't play tackle football, or any other sport, in women's leagues. Football is a fun game and there are women out there who want to play. So good for them for playing! Good for them for pursuing their interest in a great all-American sport despite the still entrenched cultural expectation that girls do not play football.
My preference, however, is to segregate the sexes in contact sports, with separate women's and men's teams. There are, after all, undeniable physical differences between the sexes that make segregation desirable (as Title IX itself recognizes). Nonetheless, if there is no women's team available, in most instances I support giving a qualified woman the opportunity to compete with the men's team. But I would draw the line at co-ed wrestling due to the intimate (ahem) nature of the contact involved in that sport. If this came up in my community, I would work really hard to find some other interested girls and put together a girls' wrestling team. (REMEMBER -- as I said in the previous post, Title IX would not require schools to put a female on a male wrestling team, but state schools might have to do so under the equal protection clause of the federal or applicable state constitution.)
I know the folks at Ladies Against Feminism do not approve of women engaging in the aggressive physicality of sports like football, as you can tell from this article. The argument seems to be that sports encourage a warlike, manly spirit in women and that women sometimes appear immodest or unlovely when they are engaged in sweaty, no- holds-barred physical competition. And in a way, they're right! When you are trying to clobber your opponent, you can't stop to worry about whether you look pretty or whether you may be inflaming male lust. (By the way, I had a good chuckle at some of the pics in the article, but I actually found them more inspiring than off-putting.)
That's not to say there is anything wrong with having a traditionally feminine appearance or dressing modestly. On most days, I myself would probably pass the Ladies Against Feminism (LAF) standards on both counts! But the problem comes in treating a feminine appearance and dress as the be-all and end-all for women. In fact, it is widely recognized that girls' participation in sports, besides being fun and healthy for its own sake, plays a key role in preventing teen pregnancy. The reason is that doing sports ingrains in girls the notion that they can use their bodies for fun and competition and feats of skill, strength and endurance. In other words, girls learn NOT to think of their bodies primarily as sex objects and therefore they are less likely to engage in sex prematurely.
In addition, engagement in an ever-broadening array of sports isn't about trying to be masculine. It is about learning the value of fair play, how to cope when you make a mistake, vigorous competition, fostering a healthy body, and just enjoying the experiences the world has to offer, including the experience of aggressive, competitive physicality. There was nothing in those photos in the LAF article that led me to believe that the women athletes depicted wouldn't be excellent mothers and loving wives, or lovely single women.