Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports

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Oxford University Press, USA, 2008 - Political Science - 349 pages
2 Reviews
From small-town life to the national stage, from the boardroom to Capitol Hill, athletic contests help define what we mean in America by "success." And by keeping women from "playing with the boys" on the grounds that they are inherently inferior to men, society relegates them to second-class status in American life. In this forcefully argued book, Eileen McDonagh and Laura Pappano show in vivid detail how women have been unfairly excluded from participating in sports on an equal footing with men. Using dozens of powerful examples from the world of contemporary American athletics--girls and women trying to break through in football, ice hockey, wrestling, and baseball to name just a few--the authors show that sex differences are not sufficient to warrant women's coercive exclusion from competing with men; that some sex-group differences actually confer a sports advantage to women; and that "special rules" for women in sports do not simply reflect the "differences" between the sexes, but actively create and reinforce a view that women as a group are inherently inferior to men--even when women clearly are not. For instance, women's bodies give them a physiological advantage in endurance sports like the ultra-marathon and distance swimming. So, why do so many Olympic events--from swimming to skiing to running to bike racing--have shorter races for women than men? Likewise, why are women's tennis matches limited to three sets while men's are best-of-fives? This book shows how sex-segregated sports policies, instead of reflecting sex-group differences, in fact construct them. An original and provocative argument to level the athletic playing field, Playing with the Boys issues a clarion call for sex-sensible policies in sports as a crucial step toward achieving social, economic, and political equality for men and women in our society.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MeganWhobrey - LibraryThing

This is a wonderful representation of the history of women and sports, the complexities of Title IX, and disparities between men's and women's sports. McDonagh's insights into the separation in ... Read full review

Playing with the boys: why separate is not equal in sports

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

McDonagh (political science, Northeastern Univ.; Breaking the Abortion Deadlock) and journalist Pappano convincingly argue the notion that sports, like politics, higher education, and employment ... Read full review


Whats the Problem?
The Sex Difference Question
Title IX Old Norms in New Forms
SexSegregated Sports on Trial
Inventing Barriers
Photo gallery
Breaking Barriers
Pass the Ball

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About the author (2008)

Eileen McDonagh is Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University and Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. She is the author of Breaking the Abortion Deadlock and The Motherless State.

Laura Pappano is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and The Washington Post. She is the author of The Connection Gap and is currently a writer-in-residence at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College.

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