This article examines Title IX as an example of a pragmatic approach to theory, and argues that pragmatic feminism is an approach that holds promise for feminists grappling with the complexity of gender oppression. Part II briefly examines pragmatism as an alternative to foundational theory and considers pragmatism's relationship to feminist legal theory. Part III explores the many forms and iterations of gender subordination in sports. Calls for a consistent, unifying theory of Title IX cannot account for the shifting nature and multiplicity of social and institutional practices that subordinate women in sports. These varied forms of subordination necessitate a nimble approach to theory with enough flexibility to tailor the law's response to the discriminatory practice targeted, while not locking in a fixed legal approach to other oppressive practices that might be less amenable to the same legal treatment. Part IV turns to the various theoretical frameworks embedded in Title IX and briefly examines some of the strengths and limitations in the doctrine they have generated. This article concludes that, by taking a pragmatic theoretical approach, Title IX has done a better job than most discrimination laws at navigating the double-bind and nudging cultural norms forward to fend off the inevitable backlash.


Symposium: Celebrating Thirty-Five Years of Sport and Title IX