Lessons from the Gender Equality Movement: Using Title IX to Foster Inclusive Masculinities in Men's Sport
Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, 2016, Forthcoming
39 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 12, 2016
This article was written for a symposium issue in Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice on the topic of LGBT inclusion in sports. The symposium, which was held at the University of Minnesota Law School in November of 2015, was precipitated by the controversy that erupted when NFL player Chris Kluwe sued and settled with the Minnesota Vikings for allegedly firing him over his outspoken support for marriage equality. The article situates the Chris Kluwe controversy in the broader context of masculinity in men’s sports. At a time when support for LGBT rights has resulted in striking gains for inclusion in other institutions (think marriage and the military), sport remains deeply resistant to LGBT inclusion. Understanding sport’s resistance to change requires attention to masculinity in sport and the practices that construct and reinforce hegemonic masculinity among male athletes. The presence of gay male athletes in elite men’s sports remains culturally startling and anxiety-producing because of sport’s deep connections to normative heterosexual masculinity. While shifts in social norms and support for women’s sports have broadened the range of femininity that is culturally valued for girls and women (within limits), the range of acceptable masculinity in men’s sports remains distinctively narrow. This article focuses on three practices that police the boundaries of normative masculinity in men’s sports: 1) anti-gay harassment; 2) sexual assault and exploitation of women; and 3) the hazing of male teammates, which often involves anti-gay and sexually explicit language and actions without regard to the actual or perceived sexual orientation of the recipients. While these three practices are often considered to be distinct and unrelated, this article argues that that they are interrelated and reinforcing. After discussing how these practices suppress the development of more inclusive masculinities in sport, the article concludes by considering the potential for sex discrimination law — Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 — to interrupt these practices and further the goal of LGBT inclusion in sport.
Keywords: Sport, masculinity, LGBT rights, Title IX, sex discrimination, harassment, hazing, sexual assault
JEL Classification: K19, K39, J71, J79
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation