Yesterday in a court in Connecticut where the coach and members of the Quinnipiac women’s volleyball team are trying to get an injunction against the school that would prevent administration from cutting the team until all legal issues are resolved, the QU athletic director took the stand.
Jack McDonald said that in the 2007-08 school year that men were cut from team rosters before the start of the season in order to meet gender equity standards–and then added back. But he said this manipulation was not approved or encouraged by the athletic administration; no one was told on the DL to engage in this practice. He also said that next year, when the undergrad population is at 63 percent women, the percentage of female athletes will be 62.
Also testifying was the coach of the women’s cheerleading team who said that the stereotype of cheerleaders does not reflect the current reality of their activity. A video of a competition was shown to indicate the high level of physicality, strength, and skill involved. This is true. But as coach Mary Ann Powers admitted, the multiple organizations that govern and run competitions and the fact that she did not know how cheerleading might affect Title IX compliance are big issues here.
In an interesting moment Powers said that she thought it was unfortunate that other women degrade cheerleaders. So many issues in this one statement. First, it is not just “other women” who are perpetuating the stereotypes of cheerleaders. Said degradation by these other women–and I assume she is talking about female athletes in this context–also may be an attempt by these athletes to express their concern over cheerleaders potentially degrading their participation in their respective sports. In other words, some may feel that the designation of cheerleader as a sport hurts the more non-traditional sports other women participate in. Cheerleading confers a femininity guarantee no matter how many muscles those women need to hoist and throw and flip around; at the end of the day it is seen as a feminine activity in ways that remain largely unquestioned. Other sports do not have that privilege and other athletes have to fight their own stereotypes about women playing sports.
And finally, I usually find that the accusation from women towards other women about women not supporting women often hides the culpability of some of other people (i.e. men) and assumes that everything that every woman does should be supported by every other woman.
Still waiting for a final decision regarding the injunction, which we expect will come soon.