Reading the Pink Locker Room: On Football Culture and Title IX
53 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2007 Last revised: 28 Dec 2011
Date Written: 2007
This Article examines the protracted public controversy that erupted after local media reported on my comment to the University of Iowa regarding its decision to renovate the football stadium's visiting team locker room entirely in pink. My statement, submitted in response to a University committee's request for feedback on a draft report to the NCAA, suggested that the "joke" behind the pink decor traded in sexist and homophobic values and, as such, belonged in a comprehensive report on gender equity. Immediately, I received hundreds of hateful e-mails and was the subject of thousands of invidious on-line postings. The content of these messages intrigued the national media, whose reporting on the controversy fueled the fire for several months.
The controversy serves as a barometer of cultural values at the intersection of feminism and football that are disappointing, but useful, to scholars and advocates of Title IX. The manner in which the "Hawkeye Nation" reacted to my statement proves how deeply hegemonic patriarchal ideology is entrenched in football culture. Because compromises involving football are often necessary to resolving gender disparities in college athletics, this evidence suggests that cultural values must change before the guarantees of Title IX will ever be fully realized.
Keywords: gender, sports, culture
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