Over the last 40 years the public workplace has changed. It went from being a largely male realm to a more balanced one in regard to the sexes. Women now work outside the home in numbers essentially equal to that of men. With this influx of female workers into the public workplace it has undergone possibly the greatest transformation since the beginning of the Industrial Age. The presence of females in a previously all-male environment required men to take down pornographic or semi-pornographic pictures from their work area and cartoons or jokes posted on walls that were deemed offensive to women were likewise banished as businesses faced charges of sexual harassment or fostering hostile work environments if they did not conform to the sensitivities of the new egalitarian workforce. This is as it should be. No woman should be subjected to images, words, or behavior in the workplace (or anywhere else) that degrades or humiliates her. But neither should men.
The Feminist Movement has been exceedingly successful at opening doors of opportunity to women who choose to pursue careers previously regarded as off limits to them. Examples would be fighter pilot, fire fighter, police officer, prison guard, construction worker, corporate CEO, etc. Businesses and organizations quickly learned that denying a woman an opportunity to compete with a man for open positions risked facing the wrath of women’s groups happy to file a lawsuit on her behalf to protect her rights. But women soon discovered that having the same job titles and positions as men did not always allow them access to the same resources to do their jobs as their male counterparts. Nowhere was this more evident than with the female sports reporter.
Prior to the feminist movement participation in sports was almost exclusively a male activity covered by male sports reporters. And part of their job was to interview players in the men’s locker room. But as females began to take up the profession of Sports Reporter a problem arose. Male sports reporters, because of their sex, had an advantage over female sports reporters. Male reporters could enter the men’s locker room getting quotes from the players while their female counterparts were required to wait outside. As a result the men where filing their stories before the women even had a chance to speak with the players. The inequity was obvious. Something needed to be done. And something was.
During the 1977 World Series Bowie Kuhn, Major League Baseball Commissioner at the time, denied Melissa Ludtke, a Sports Illustrated reporter, access to the men’s locker room. Time, Inc. filed a lawsuit on Ludtke’s behalf arguing that female reporters should have equal access to the locker room. The result? In 1978 Federal Judge Constance Baker Motley ruled that male and female reporters should have equal access to the player’s locker rooms citing the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. (more…)