Friday, March 24, 2017

Women's History Month Titles: celebrating equality in sport


When I was in law school, the prime rule of our softball league was “No Title IX Shifts.”

It was 1980, and the first wave of women law students in large numbers was reaching professional schools still accustomed to Professor Kingsfield and a nearly all-male environment (just 28 years earlier, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor- in the top of her class at Stanford Law- got the Merrick Garland treatment from over forty law firms, only because she was a woman). The notoriously silly “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match was only seven years past.

So no moving the outfielders closer when a woman came to bat was the rule.

Thirty-six years years later, we have the spectacle of a 70-year-old tennis official declaring women pro players should get down on their knees and thank male players for creating a little niche for them, and the male player, Novak Djokovic, adding that women players have to go through "hormones" and other challenges men do not; that women have to make "sacrifices for certain periods of time, the family time or decisions that they make on their own bodies in order to play tennis"; and they are entitled to fight for what they think they deserve to be paid.

A new arrival on Henry Bemis’s shelves reminds us the struggle for equality is, apparently, one without end:

Jane Gottesman, Game Face: What Does A Female Athlete Look Like? (Random House, 1st ed. Stated, 2001). ISBN 0-375-50602-0. Photographs by Jeffrey Biddle. Foreword by Penny Marshall, director of “A League of Their Own.” 223 pp. Hardcover, unclipped dust jacket, very good condition. Inscribed on the title page by the author, “For Rachel- Happy graduation! Stay strong and keep your game face on!” Very good condition.

Gottesman, a former sports writer for a big paper- the only woman in the department- founder herself covering a self-evident truth: “Women’s sports are second rate.” She noticed women athletes never appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated- the swimsuit edition aside- unless they were seen as victims or sluts.

Otherwise, women in elite sports were, if not invisible, featured well below the fold.

“Game Face carves out a different space,” Gottesman wrote in the introduction,” a niche where women’s athletics is first-rate and women’s abilities are the camera’s delight.” It’s publication- which arose from a Gottesman article titled, “Cover-Girl Athletes”, was accompanied by a three-month traveling exhibition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.

dorrance 2.jpg


Crothers, Tim, The Man Watching: A Biography of Anson Dorrance, the Unlikely Architect of the Greatest College Sports Dynasty Ever (Sports Media Group, 1st. ed, later printing, 2006). ISBN 978-1-58726-434-4. Eighteen national championships and a 94% win rate seem to back up the claim at the University of North Carolina’s women’s soccer team is about as good as they get. Hardcover, dust jacket price clipped, very good condition, autographed by Crothers and Dorrance.

And a third:

souvenir of the 1984 Los Angeles Games, still memorable for running smoothly and profitably?


Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad: Los Angeles 1984 Commemorative Book (International Sport Publications, Inc., 1st ed. 1984). ISBN 0-913927-02-3. All the highlights, all the records from the LA Games. Quarto, 288 pp., hardcover with gilt-embossed leather, very good condition. Presentation volume from AEG-Telefunken. HBB price: $20.

Henry Bemis Books is one man’s attempt to bring more diversity and quality to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg market of devoted readers starved for choices. Our website is at  Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory; for pricing on this or others items, kindly private message us. Shipping is always free; local buyers are welcome to drop by and pick up their purchases at our location off Peachtree Road in Northwest Charlotte if they like. #WomensHistoryMonth #WomenAthletes #Book of the Day #RareBooks #HenryBemisBooks #Charlotte

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