A hero for John? Title IX and my toilet…

I needed a plumber.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m moving (Moving Out? Moving on up? not really sure, but I am moving…). Anyway one of the rules of the sale is that I leave the house “broom clean,” Fair enough, but I figure I can do a bit better than that. I’ve had a leaky toilet forever, I should just get a plumber in and fix it before I go.

I asked a friend for a referral and she said – “oh, you have to get Chris. You’ll LOVE Chris!” OK – Say I, I’ll get Chris. “Before you do,” my friend cautioned, “you should know Chris is Chris – the Title IX woman.” Not sure what that meant, I asked her to elaborate. Instead, she directed me to the 2000 documentary A Hero For Daisy, a film that I had somehow missed when it came out, but am so happy to know about today.

“A Hero for Daisy” documents how, in 1976, 20 women from the Yale rowing team, led by Chris Ernst, forced the school to comply with Title IX’s call that all institutions receiving federal funding have fair and equal benefits for both men and women. While Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendment of 1972, has had its strongest impact on the high school and college sports, it does not specifically mention athletics. 

At Yale, the women on the crew team were forced to wait in buses following competitions, while the men used the showers and clubhouse that had been built for them. Left to shiver as the cold chilled through their sweaty athletic wear, they began to put a plan in place to demand fair treatment. At a meeting with college administrators, they stripped to reveal TITLE IX penned onto their naked torsos; Chris Ernst read a statement about Yale’s exploitation of their bodies; and history was made. Chris went on to become a two time Olympian and is now a plumber in Boston’s Western suburbs.

My beloved uncle was here this weekend to help me with some moving issues. I returned from a trip for fortification (pizza and beer) to find him on his back in my bathroom. “That won’t be giving you any more problems,” he proudly announced!

So I find myself no longer in need of a plumber and, for the first time, a great desire to hire one, if only to meet such a remarkable trailblazer. Do you think she’ll be able to figure out, CSI style, how my towel ended up lodged in the pipes?


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