Monday, November 26, 2007

Pg. 99: McDonagh & Pappano's "Playing With The Boys"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports by Eileen McDonagh and Laura Pappano.

About the book, from the Oxford University Press:
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.
Among the praise for Playing With The Boys:

"Convincingly argue[s] the notion that sports, like politics, higher education, and employment generally, should provide equal opportunity for women... Marshaling facts, research, and opinions from biology, history, sociology, law, media, and psychology, the authors make their feminist argument more plausibly than does Colette Dowling in The Frailty Myth ... Highly recommended."
--Library Journal

"Playing with the Boys dismantles the common assumption that women must be inferior to men when it comes to sports. McDonagh and Pappano impressively show how this deep stereotype has no grounds and why it's so important we get rid of it."
--Donna Brazile, author of Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics

"This is one of those rare gems of a book that makes you entirely reassess what you thought you knew. Provocative, absorbing and meticulously argued, Playing with the Boys questions the received wisdom about Title IX and women's sports from the most unexpected perspective. Read the book."
--Mary Fainsod Katzenstein, Stephen and Evalyn Milman Professor of American Studies, Cornell University and author of Faithful and Fearless: Moving Feminist Protest inside the Church and Military

"McDonagh and Pappano hit a home-run! This book shows that coerced sex segregation in sports does not benefit women, and in fact holds back women who are fully capable of competing with men -- and that flies in the face of U.S. ideals of equality. Readers will never think of Title IX in the same way again."
--Kim Gandy, President, National Organization for Women (NOW)

"This is a wonderful work! It offers novel evidence from biology, history, and the law that makes us realize that women's sports are not only intrinsically interesting as a topic of study, but also a key part of larger debates about who we are as a society and a nation."
--Kristin Goss, Assistant Professor of Public Policy Studies and Political Science, Duke University and author of Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America

Learn more about Playing With The Boys at the Oxford University Press website.

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.

Laura Pappano is the author of The Connection Gap and an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and The Washington Post.

The Page 99 Test: Playing With the Boys.

--Marshal Zeringue