Gender Benders

Article excerpt

Feminists beat up on male wrestlers and other jocks.

Harasser of employees, exploiter of interns, friend of pornographers, rapist-Bill Clinton is, of course, the darling of the feminist establishment. He does so much for feminists to keep them overlooking his, uh, private peccadilloes.

Thus we get a president who is, for all his twists and turns in other areas, absolutely unyielding and unvarying in his defense of abortion. How does he move the country toward compromise on this tormenting issue? By vetoing a ban on partial-birth abortions-what might more accurately be called "assisted infanticide." This was Clinton's policy even before the Lewinsky scandal broke.

Another thing we get is an ongoing campaign to import feminist doctrines into legal definitions of sexual harassment, except when committed by the president personally. This was the Justice Department's approach during the year-long public debate about the Lewinsky scandal.

Yet another thing we get is "gender" quotas. On this issue, there may be another nasty policy turn in store, as more payoff bills come due for the president. In September 1997, Clinton celebrated the 2th anniversary of Title IX, a federal law prohibiting "discrimination on the basis of sex" in federally funded education programs. He promised sterner enforcement because Title IX "is the law and the law must be enforced." This message seemed a bit untimely in 1998, but we are very likely to hear more about it in the next few months.

Yet on the matter of gender quotas, there is also some hope for relief No, not from congressional Republicans, too traumatized by Clinton's "vindication" in the Senate impeachment trial to tangle again with the feminist lobby. Rather, the relief may come from federal judges, who are not quite so intimidated by poll results. (Remember Secret Service privilege? White House counsel privilege? All the other groundless and absurd legal delaying tactics of Bill Clinton's legal "dream team"? Notwithstanding his poll numbers, federal judges swatted down each one of them without so much as a word of apology to Geraldo.)

For more than two decades, feminists have complained about the inequities of college sports. More men are involved than women, and for feminists, the numbers alone prove "inequity." Rather than focus on expanding opportunities for women, the activists are content to curtail opportunities for men in order to achieve "equity."

A case underway in federal court in Calif ornia illustrates the pattern. In the fall of 1993, the California State University Board of Trustees announced a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the state chapter of the National Organization for Women. The settlement pledged CSU to assure that, by the 1998/99 academic year, each college in the Cal State system would have the same male/female ratio in its athletic teams as in its student body, with no more than a fivepercent deviation from this quota.

As the deadline loomed, coaches started frantically cutting men from teams to bring the number of male athletes into line with the number of female athletes. At Cal State Bakersfield, seven male wrestlers out of 32 were cut from the team to make the overall numbers come out right. Stephen Neal and other members of the team then brought a federal lawsuit. District Judge Robert Coyle issued a temporary restraining order against the cut at the end of 1997 and a preliminary injunction this February. In the next few months, Neal v. California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) will go to trial and the loser will likely appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. From there, the case may well go on to the Supreme Court, because the issue has percolated through so many lower courts that it may be hard for the high court to ignore.

Neal is particularly interesting because it challenges not just a wacky California policy but the wider system of federal regulation now enforced throughout the country. …