Category: Women’s Sport (page 1 of 3)

Intersectionality: Let the Dialogue Begin…


Today I had hoped to share how my mindset shift—5 Keys to Embracing Your Own Personal Lovelution (in case you missed it)—is expanding to a shift in my identity. However, I’m still exploring this new found awareness and how to share it with you. What I know for sure (thanks Oprah for this phrase!) is…that in a few weeks time, I’ll have a better handle on this shift.

It's Official...I'm a Published Author!!! Image from my Instagram Feed Follow me at @jillian4justice + biz happenings @jillybeads4justice

It’s Official…I’m a Published Author!!!
Image from my Instagram Feed
Follow me at @jillian4justice + biz happenings @jillybeads4justice

In the meantime, I’d like to share an excerpt from my first published book chapter (Woooohoooooo!!!) titled, 3 to 1: Four Women Navigating the Intersections of Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, and Heterosexism in Intercollegiate Sport. I’m beyond proud of this chapter that I had the privilege to co-author with three amazing women I respect. My hope is that one day I’ll be able to share the full piece with you all, so I’m in the process of figuring out those details with the publisher.

Below is an excerpt from opening paragraphs of the chapter:

The primary purpose of this chapter is for us to describe the ways in which racism, heterosexism, and Black sexuality intersect and interact with each other—both in American society via our life experiences and in organized sport, in particular.  We begin by providing our theoretical foundation for the chapter and share a model for its intersectionality—the relationship between and among racism, sexism, heterosexism and homophobia.  Then we will to tell you about ourselves prior to delving into the issues related to the intersectionality of the “-isms” that are rarely discussed within intercollegiate sport.  The chapter concludes with us highlighting our vision toward a path of solutions.  This includes strategies for change, as well as how LGBTQ[1] and ally leaders within academia can be change agents within higher education institutions throughout the country.

A Model: The Intersection of Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, and Heterosexism

Each of us writing recognizes we have a unique way in which our different parts of social and cultural identity intersect.  More importantly, these varying components can and do afford us societal and cultural privilege, or more often disadvantage.  Although there are many ways to describe the hierarchical power relations at work in U.S. society, especially within higher education, Collins’ (2000) “matrix of domination” combines the intersecting systems of oppression (e.g. race, social class, gender, sexuality, etc.) while organizing the domains of power in a “structural, disciplinary, hegemonic, and interpersonal” (p. 299) manner.

More specifically, Collins (2004) reminds us how “scholars have long examined the ways in which ‘white fear of black sexuality’ has been a basic ingredient of racism” (p. 87). Though we cannot just simply point the finger at our fellow White Americans since “in the United States, [there is] the assumption that racism and heterosexism constitute two separate systems of oppression mask[ing] how each relies upon the other for meaning” (p. 88).  Collins’ (2004) assertion is further complicated when and if scholars, sport and educational leaders, or athletes make the assumption that all Black people are heterosexual and all LGBTQ individuals are White.  By distorting “the significance of ideas about sexuality to racism and race to heterosexism,” Black Americans continue to experience incarceration as a form of racism and the closet as a form of sexual oppression creating prisons for our bodies and closets for our minds (p. 88).

Excerpted from Roth, J.R., Robinson, L., O’Bryant, C. & Griffin, P. (2014) In E.J. Meyer & D. Carlson (Eds.), Gender and sexualities in education: A reader (pp. 453-463). New York: Peter Lang.

Please remember to share your thoughts in the comments!

With pride 

P.S. Do you know someone who could benefit from this newsletter? Please share 

[1] LGBTQ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning


“I’m Dead Sexy.” Better yet, …“People Like Me.”

Are you wondering who said these two contrasting statements? No clue. Let me give you a few hints…

She’s a 4-time All-American while at Stanford; 3-time Olympic medalist; 2-time World Cup champion; a member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team , the National Soccer Hall of Fame, and the 2002 Title IX Commission on Opportunity in Athletes; plus, served as President of the Women’s Sports Foundation.

If you guessed Julie Foudy, then “ding, ding,” you are correct!

I had the pleasure of interviewing this “phenomenal role model and American icon for what she’s accomplished in women’s sports, as well as just women’s business and leadership.” Which is how Amy Love—Equal Rights Advocate’s (ERA) first Title IX client—described Julie prior to me sitting down with her. I must admit, it feels odd referring to this woman I’ve admired for years— starting as a 9- or 10-year old girl though my formative undergraduate years when my advocacy work for Title IX began—in such an informal way, yet this is the energy and presence she exudes—comfortable, confident, curious, and conscious.

In fact, as I introduced myself, it was clear the commonalities we shared:

Jillian (JR): I did an independent study in my undergrad creating a program called Backyards & Beyond…because I felt like my generation had no idea what it was.

Julie (JF): That’s what I’m going to talk about today.

(JR): That actually leads me to my first question, how are you feeling about today’s event and what message do you hope the audience takes away from your keynote?

(JF): Well, I’m totally pumped to be here for ERA because I just think the world of what they’re doing. We need groups like them…. When I read what they’re doing, I just think, “Ah, the world’s a better place because they exist.” When they asked me to come, I said, “Of course, I’ll come, it’s a great honor and that it’s the 40th anniversary of Title IX is huge.” It does sadden me that more kids don’t know what Title IX is and I don’t blame them. I just don’t understand why…it’s not more a part of the curriculum….I think it’s one of the most profound civil rights laws we’ve had in this country. And, the fact that kids don’t know about like they know about their civil rights pioneers in this county, I get a little bit madden by that and frustrated.

There you have it, one item on Julie Foudy’s self-proclaimed bucket list—getting Title in the K-12 curriculum. In the meantime, she shared with both the crowd of 600+ at ERA’s Annual Luncheon and I, “Title IX has been such a gift for me, the [U.S. Women’s soccer] team, my career, [which] why I will always advocate for girls playing sports.” This felt like a good transition to my next question, which was actually created by Haliee Kaliban—friend, former professional soccer player, and owner of City Gym.

(JR):  How do you think Title IX has fostered the sisterhood experienced in women’s professional sports between the athletes and young women who hope to be them? For example, staying longer after the lights go off to sign little girls’ soccer balls, being accessible to the younger generation, etc. since you’ve really been known for this throughout your career?

(JF):  That’s a great question! We’ve never taken it for granted. The fact that we have the opportunity to play at that level—[at the Olympics and professionally]—and the importance of being a female role model…I grew up when there weren’t many [female role models] you could watch on television, certainly not any soccer players. I grew up thinking I would be an eight foot tall Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and I was 5-5, 5-6 on a good day. I wasn’t going to be a 300 pound lineman for the Los Angeles Rams, so those were kind of the guys I was watching.

We always felt with the [U.S. Soccer] National Team that here’s this wonderful opportunity to touch someone’s life and it doesn’t take a lot of time and to show them they could be out here someday, we got that. I think women athletes, in general still, even those who didn’t have to fight as hard for the right to play…still get it and don’t take it for granted and understand the value of touching a young girl’s life.

This understanding still resonates, as Julie took photos with admirers and fans, as well as signed programs, balls, etc. for anyone that asked, especially a young girl. Curious if her perspective of being a mom has changed or affected her advocacy work, I asked and she immediately lit-up and revealed:

JF): It’s great because I have one girl and one boy, so I have the full set. People ask, “do you want your daughter to play soccer or do you want your son to play?” Yes, of course, but really I just want them to play. I just want them to experience sport…, it’s not like I’m advocating more intensely (laughing).

(JR): Right.

(JF): I’ve always been a die-hard for playing sports, but it just makes me realize that I want Izzy, my five year old, to not only have the opportunity to play but to understand the historical perspective of it—that girls did not always have this opportunity and not to take it for granted. I just hope Izzy knows when mommy was playing, she played because of pioneers like Billie Jean King, Donna de Varona, Nancy Hogshead, ERA, and the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Senator Bayh, Patsy Mink, and all these people that are not household names and I think they should be when it comes to women’s sports.

(JR): Sounds like all great names to be included in that curriculum.

(JF): Exactly.

Nonetheless, there are still plenty of skeptics—pre- and post-Title IX, male and female, revenue sports and non-revenue sports. Some would even argue that Title IX is non longer relevant and should be updated. That led me to ask Julie, “how is Title IX still relevant and how would you respond to such an argument?”

(JF): I think it’s incredibly relevant and it gets a bad wrap. Unnecessarily so, because schools are escalating the funding they’re giving to certain programs and hoping to get a return. Unfortunately, over 80% don’t get a return and they pour millions and millions into football, basketball, or the higher revenue sports. I understand why, [yet] Title IX doesn’t dictate how they should spend their money. Don’t turn around and blame it on Title IX and use that as an excuse to not manage the budget well and not getting the return on your investment. Because of Title IX, they’re not able to cut the women’s sports. Unfortunately, which is something we never want to see, the men’s minor sports get cut to make more room for spending on the revenue sports because they can’t cut the women’s sports legally…I think it is still vital because there would be a lot less women’s teams at the collegiate level now, if it weren’t for Title IX. Unfortunately, that’s where collegiate sports at the Division I level are going. Where there’s just fewer and fewer [with the focus on revenue male-dominated sports]] instead of this broad based approach, which I think is sad to see.

I had to play the devil’s advocate for a moment, which then led me to a question that I had pondered since the release of the 2002 Commission on Opportunity in Athletics’ Minority Report by Donna De Varona and Julie Foudy. I asked,

(JR): How did it feel when you put that report out in the universe? What was your big hope and did it ultimately accomplished?

(JF): It was a bit nerve-racking actually because during that whole Commission we were the dissenting voice, and it was a rapid-fire tutorial on D.C. politics…But it was a great lesson for me on being okay with being the minority voice and having the courage and strength of conviction to say, “I know that there are all these people who think I’m nuts by saying this, but I know also that there are millions of young girls out there, dads and moms, that support what we are saying and there is value to what we are saying. When we [she and Donna] came out with the Minority Report, we were branded the problem children on that Commission, but it wasn’t for lack of effort and trying to incorporate [our voices] into the majority report…, we tried. I’m not just one to take a minority voice just to stir things up, but we just felt in the end, it [the Majority Report] didn’t get accomplished so we needed to do a report on our own.

Listening to Julie firsthand perspective was inspiring and reminded that the greatest power we each have is our voice. Yet in order to raise your voice, we each have our own way of making ourselves feel good or affirming our strengths. That said, my final question was what I call a “fun” one,

(JR): What do you say to yourself in the mirror when you need to feel amazing?

(JF): [Big laugh] You know that Saturday Night Live skit, “I’m good enough, I’m strong enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.”

(JR): Yep, absolutely. Because we all have those days, right?

(JF): Yeah, that’s a good one, what would I say in the mirror? You’re dead sexy.

(JR): Awesome.

(JF): No, I don’t know. I think I would say, “people like me.”

I find Julie’s response a perfect mix of each of our realities: what we tell ourselves (and hope) and what we know to be true. On this day (and everyday for that matter), honor both of thees realities and raise your voice for what you believe in!

~ One Love

CALL 2 ACTION: Let’s Show the Mags What Real Beauty Looks Like. Take the #KeepItRealChallenge on Instagram!

*Miss Representation in partnership with Endangered Bodies, we take the best photos of the day and display them on a billboard in New York City—the heart of the magazine industry.*

Big THANKS to Julie Foudy for sitting down to chat with me!!

ERA Celebrates 40 Years of Title IX: “Why Shouldn’t We Ask for This?!”

If you don’t like something change it;

if you can’t change it,

change the way you think about it.

~ Mary Engelbreit

Digging the quote, yet wondering what ERA stands for?

ERA is Equal Rights Advocates, a nonprofit legal organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls, since 1974. On Friday, June 8, I attended ERA’s 38th Annual Luncheon in downtown San Francisco. The focus was celebrating Title IX’s 40th Anniversary of “Making Girls into Strong Women,” and the quote above is how Executive Director, Noreen Farrell, opened her remarks to a crowd of over 600 supporters including attorneys, business leaders, and women’s rights advocates.

When asked to blog for this event, my instinct was it would be a powerful and   inspiring opportunity to network, reflect, and leave reinvigorated. This was quickly confirmed when it was stated, “girls and women expect equality and if they don’t receive it, they go to ERA—a partner to help you fight.” “How fantastic,” I thought, “I had found another phenomenal national organization, based in Bay Area, doing the kind of work that I love to support.” I wasn’t alone as Julie Foudy, the luncheon’s keynote speaker, began by enthusiastically stating, “38 years and I’ve never been to one of these. You all are like my peeps!” Needless to say, the room was filled with like-minded advocates and Title IX trailblazers, including Amy Love.

Don’t know who Amy Love is? Well, you should…

At nine, Amy was told she couldn’t play soccer because she was a girl. In response, she had a very simple question for her parents, “What does the fact that I’m a girl have anything to do with my ability to play soccer?” This question became a defining moment in Amy’s life that led her parents to contact ERA. By doing so, Amy was ERA’s first Title IX case. Together their class action suit ensured “girls across the state of California and across the country had the right to play on competitive sports teams.” I was able to chat with Amy and ask her, “How does it feel to celebrate 40 years of Title IX?” Her response:

“It feels fabulous! One of the most important things for us to always recognize though is that no right is ever guaranteed, and so it’s important to keep in mind the social perspective yet also propel ourselves forward.”

Curious, I followed up by asking, “What do you mean by ‘propel[ling] ourselves forward’?”

“Every four years, we as a country get excited around the success of the women athletes in this county, yet it’s hard-pressed for them to find a way to establish career opportunities in professional sports. Clearly, the WNBA is the best example along with the WTA and the LPGA, yet in the grand scheme of things, there’s still tremendous opportunity for women to look to the future for continued opportunities to choose sports as a career.”

What great insight to receive from just one trailblazer in the room to only later realize Amy Love, ERA advocate and former client, is the same Amy Love who started Real Sports magazine—The Authority in Women’s Sports™. The same magazine I remember coming across when it’s inaugural issue was printed in the fall of 1998 when the University of Tennessee’s Michelle Snow graced the cover dunking. I true full circle moment for me.

ERA’s luncheon was a special celebration of their education equity work and Title IX while having Julie Foudy there as a shining example of the impact Title IX has had on one accomplished female athlete on and off the field. For those of you who missed Julie Foudy’s almost two decade career as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, here’s a quick rundown: 4-time All-American; 3-time Olympic medalist; 2-time World Cup champion; a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame; served as President of the Women’s Sports Foundation; member of the 2002 Title IX Commission on Opportunity in Athletes. In addition, she has tirelessly worked on issues of child obesity and the use of child labor in the making of soccer balls, as well as empowering girls through sport via the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy and the Julie Foudy Leadership Foundation.

Not only did I get to hear her speak in person, I was able to interview her as well, which I will share in an upcoming post. It was a true honor to meet Julie, first, as an accomplished female athlete and Olympian, and then, as a like-minded advocate who believes in equality and the power of sport to development leadership and other important life skills. Julie was most notably, kind, gracious, passionate, and humble while possessing a contagious energy and zest for life. This was highlighted in her opening remarks, she stated, “First and foremost, thank you to ERA for all you are doing. When I read about the work you do, I truly feel this sense of relief that we are safer and better because of all you are doing, so big round of applause.” Even so, Julie made it clear that “we all have a part to play in this fight to advocate on behalf of Title IX.”

Then Julie revealed, “Title IX has been the most remarkable gift in my life,” and sport was the vehicle that helped her to become the woman she is today. It allowed her to attend the “fine institution” of Stanford University, as well as play for the U.S. for 18 years. In fact, when asked, “What was your greatest moment?” upon her retirement in 2004, Julie shared that

The expectation was a sports moment like winning the World Cup or the gold medal in the 1996 Olympics. Of course, winning was important to us [Mia Hamm, Kristine Lily, and the other members of the U.S. women’s soccer team], we were competitive, feisty athletes. Yet, what resonates the most is that I got to learn from 18…20…30 amazing women over the course of two decades about life. Just how to be a good human being and advocate for the things that are important. I couldn’t have gotten that education anywhere else.

One of those lessons was to dream big, break boundaries, and believe in yourself and your teammates. And that’s exactly what Julie Foudy and her teammates did. When she and Kristine Lilly joined the team as idealistic 16 year olds as Julie reminisced, there was no women’s soccer in the Olympics or women’s World Cup. For them, the simple question was why not? Of course, there wasn’t a simple answer, except skepticism that intended to keep these post-Title female athletes enclosed by the glass ceiling. Julie disclosed the responses they received, such as “That’s crazy. It’s not going to happen. There’s not enough women that play the sport, sillies. Stop thinking so big; stop dreaming like that.” Yet, they asked, “Why shouldn’t we ask for this?”

“It’s a good thing this courageous group of women and the people who supported them didn’t listen;” otherwise, they would have never realized their potential and an amazing one at that. Julie then humorously shared her Top 3 sports moments/lessons:

  • Winning the first Women’s World Cup in 1991: An event Julie had to convince her own dad to attend and who later shared, “I’m glad I didn’t miss this.” Despite the win, however, Julie quickly faced the reality of being a student-athlete by having to take college finals upon her return.
  • Winning Gold at the 1996 Olympics: In front of a home crowd of 78,000 people in Atlanta, GA.
  • Winning the 1999 World Cup (“This was a real life-changer.”): Despite being told to play it safe and play in small 5,000 seat arenas that could be guaranteed to sellout, the team with the support of the U.S. Soccer Federation believed in themselves, the draw of being a world event, and people’s desire to watch and support women’s soccer could fill much larger stadiums. In the end, they proved the skeptics wrong as they played the opening game to a sellout crowd of 80,000 people at Giants Stadium, the second largest audience outside of the Pope, and with 40 million watching the final match on ABC.

As Julie shared these three experiences, she asked us to consider,

How many times in life do people tell you that you can’t do something or that you’re crazy?

She went on to share,

“I’m constantly passing along the message to girls and boys that you’re not crazy you’re courageous. Just find people around you that support that belief, that support that dream. ERA supports dreams and that’s what Title IX does in so many ways. …I leave you with this challenge: Make sure young girls understand their history. It’s not just ERA’s responsibility to educate the public about what Title IX is. It breaks my heart that young girls don’t know about it and if they do, it has a negative connotation. They think it’s why men’s minor sports are being cut.”

Often, Title IX is the scapegoat rather than institutions budgeting and spending their money better. What’s more, Julie shared, “my next big battle, I was telling Jillian today, I want to advocate for getting it into the curriculum.” I couldn’t agree more and I too am committed to figuring out how to make this happen. That said, I close with a question asked by Noreen that is still resonating with me and I suggest you consider,

What are the moments that have empowered you to be what you are today?

This event solidified a handful of my defining moments, which confirmed this luncheon was exactly where I was supposed to be on the last day of my 20s. Thus, leaving me empowered.

Stay tuned for my next post where I share my interview with soccer great, Julie Foudy…

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