The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Affirmative action: in the newsroom, and on the wrestling-mat

There's been rumblings, following (I seem to recall) a Michael Kinsley piece on girls and boys on the op-ed pages - too few of the former, supposedly.

Romenesko, who's followed the controversy, now has a nicely paradoxical conjunction to link to: the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (or Strib to its friends) has hired a girl to write op-eds: Katherine Kersten, who has previously taken a stand against - affirmative action!

And - believe it or - mixed wrestling in schools, mandated by the sports equivalent of the Terminator, Title IX.

You'd have thought that wrestling, being a contact sport, would have been low down on the list for the unisex treatment. Not so, it seems. Kirsten leads her piece with the sad tale of one lad
a promising Minnesota high school wrestler had to wrestle a girl at his sectional meet in order to proceed to the state tournament. His school, a private Christian institution, generally requires its wrestlers to forfeit to girls, thereby incurring a loss for both the wrestler and the team. The young man clearly didn't want to wrestle the girl. But given the stakes, after consulting with his father and his coach, he decided to proceed.

As the embarrassed boy walked out on the mat, spectators began to laugh. He quickly flipped the girl to her back, but couldn't bring himself to pin her, which required pushing directly on her chest. For about 40 seconds, the boy remained frozen. Finally his coach, in frustration, shouted, "Just do it!" The boy made his move, pinning the girl to the mat. But walking off, he looked defeated, not victorious. With hanging head, he strode - angry and humiliated - straight to the locker room.

Clearly, there's a documentary just crying out to be made on the topic. For instance, how the boys deal with a particular consequence of mixed-sex rough and tumble with which their gender alone is cursed...

(My hypothesis would be that there was a whole lot of protesting too much going on. Surely girls aren't forced into wrestling, rather than swimming or tennis, say: and they probably know that full body contact with sweaty jocks is involved before they sign up. It's a licence to trangress - which teens tend to like doing, I dimly recall. And with the opportunity for groping, too.

As for the boys, I'd have thought the major problem was the risk of suffering the shame of losing to a girl. Now that might well cause locker-room tears!)


On Minnesota girls wrestling. One MN legislator
Rep. Sondra Erickson, R, Princeton
was sufficiently moved by, or obsessed with, the problem as to introduce a bill giving a local option to ban mixed wrestling in the state's schools. It died, against its author's prediction, with a little help from Hubert Humphrey's team, it seems, in the form of
Rep. Mary Jo McGuire, DFL-Falcon Heights

What is it with the Gopher State and mixed wrestling? All those sub-zero nights in winter, perhaps...

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