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10 February 2007 @ 11:19 pm
[Day 11] Women in Sports  

Last year, rageprufrock wrote about women like the burst-open lips of figs, about how women have worn their history as odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims like jewelry -- she wrote about how despite all of this, we sometimes forget how far we have come, and more importantly how far we have yet to go.

It's 2007 and the third most powerful person in American politics, second in line to take over the presidency, is a woman: Nancy Pelosi -- but half of the coverage she earned after her first State of the Union was about the color and cut of her clothes. Hilary Clinton is a two-term senator of New York and former first lady bracing to run for the Office of the Presidency in 2008 -- and yet people are preoccupied by her gender, by how pretty she might be and how she does her hair, whether or not she got plastic surgery. Women are still being raped and killed in Darfur; the Chinese countryside still has families practicing infanticide despite the country's rapidly skewing sex ratios. Girls are still giving themselves eating disorders comparing themselves to impossible standards of beauty, still acting less intelligent than they really are -- to be non-threatening, to be liked. One in three women will still experience sexual assault in her lifetime. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same.

It's 2007 and women are still odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims -- and we owe ourselves and all other women more than that, we owe ourselves better. We can do more.

V can stand for vagina, like Eve Ensler's groundbreaking monologues. V can stand for violence, under whose auspices all women continue to make a home.

V can also stand for victory.

Women in Sports

The importance of women's sports is rarely acknowledged despite the fact that it's been found that women who participate in sports are not only physically healthier but that sports has been shown to have a positive impact on self-esteem, which is particularly important in adolescent girls.

Part of the problem is that adult women are discouraged from entering into careers in athletics due to the low salaries associated with women's sports -- salaries that are significantly lower than men's. In addition, only about 5% of women's sports are televised, and while the Summer Olympics offers 159 events for men, women are only given 86 options.

The Women's Sports Foundation was started in 1974 by Billie Jean King and is "a charitable educational organization dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity.

The Foundation's Participation, Education, Advocacy, Research and Leadership programs are made possible by individual and corporate contributions."

They help women know their rights and what's possible thanks to Title IX. Title IX, a law enacted on June 23, 1972, in the United States, states 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.'"