Saturday, February 19, 2011

What do Title IX and Title X Have in Common?

For all the current discussion on the country's budget, one critical piece that should not be overlooked is preventative care, which necessarily includes family planning. "For every dollar spent on contraception for low-income women, the government saves four dollars in medical costs within the next year by averting unwanted pregnancies," reports the New York Times, quoting Ms. Cohen of the Guttmacher Institute in an article yesterday. Critics of Planned Parenthood, however, frequently focus on abortion, even though Planned Parenthood’s services overwhelmingly involve family planning and preventative medicine. 

Title X is a $317 million program that aids family planning--and the Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed cutting it in its entirety. $317 million, in the scheme of things, is peanuts. What worries me more, is the message that such a cut sends. It is not only short-sighted, but  projects the misogynistic and fearful beliefs of a few onto an entire population. As Dan Savage frequently rails about, legislation against abortion, against family planning, against sex education, against gay marriage--really any legislation that has anything to do with individuals' sex lives and the repercussions of it at all has increasingly been a focus of the right-wing agenda. Why?  Because it is control over a person. Controlling an individual's sexuality and sexual identity and the decisions that person may make based on his or her sexual identity, is, in my opinion, tantamount to slavery. Both fundamentally seek unmediated control of an individual's body and in legislating their subjective values, an individual's freedom of thought and expression--indeed, his or her mind, and ultimately mental well-being. Although anecdotal, Dan Savage's success as a columnist speaks to how fucked up the United States attitude towards sex, health, and the undeniable connection between healthy bodies and healthy minds, is.

So what does this have to do with Title IX? Probably more people are familiar with Title IX because it is why there is women's basketball, or women's track, or name your sport for women. Basically Title IX requires that in any institution where federal funds are provided, women must have an equal access to services--or in our case, to play any sport that a male can play. Thus we have seen an explosion of women's athletics at the high school and collegiate level since its enactment in 1972. I certainly have benefited--I played softball, volleyball, ran cross country and track, skied cross-country, and even swam one season at my public high school in Minneapolis. These experiences shaped who I am as a self-actualized individual. Many women talk about how important emotionally sports are for them, and how important they can be for self-esteem.

So what do Title X and Title IX have in common? Equitable access to services for building and maintaining physical and mental health. And we're talking not just gender parity, but class parity--because that's what Title X seeks to enable--the sorely needed medical services Planned Parenthood provides to so many individuals who in our increasingly income-segregated country cannot afford medical care. 

So today, I beg you--please take a moment and donate to Planned Parenthood (see sidebar link). Better, please take a moment and write to your House Representative and Senators telling them not to cut Title X and the incredibly important services Planned Parenthood provides. You can find your senators' contact info here.  You can find your House Representative's contact info here.

On a lighter note: Speaking of gender parity, here's where my husband and I ran today:
Isn't it ideal that a man and woman in a healthy relationship can also enjoy a sport together? :)

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