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A new lawsuit argues female coaches should be allowed to act like jerks too

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Title IX revolutionized women's participation in sports by requiring equal treatment in educational programs for men and women. It's a weapon in the fight against college sexual assault. And a new lawsuit hopes to use Title IX to overturn a double standard in the workplace: male coaches who are jerks but win games are celebrated, while female coaches who do the same can be fired.

The University of Iowa fired a field hockey coach who'd been accused of being verbally abusive toward her players. Four players fired a Title IX complaint in response — one arguing that she "wanted to be pushed by her coach when she got to Iowa City, and she said the school's firing … denied her that opportunity."

As Kevin Trahan writes for Vice Sports:

If she was a man, this likely would have been a non-issue, and because many female athletes believe that if their coach isn't allowed to yell at them, they're not afforded the same opportunities that male athletes are—opportunities that are guaranteed to them under Title IX.

Arguing for the right for all coaches to be verbally abusive — not just men — is a weird, quixotic feminist crusade. But Title IX is a creative way to take a shot at a pervasive double standard of how men and women are expected to behave in the workplace, whether that workplace is a basketball court or a boardroom.

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