Women's wrestling is in the news. In summer 2004, it became an official Olympic sport. But for young women interested in pursuing wrestling, challenges still abound. Girl Wrestler follows a year in the life of Tara Neal, a Texas teenager who rocks the establishment by insisting that girls and boys should be able to wrestle on the same mat. From allegations of referee bias against girl wrestlers to coaches who proclaim their hatred of Title IX--the federal statute that grants women's athletics proportionality in public schools-- Girl Wrestler personalizes the clash of gender and sport and, in particular, the policy debates over Title IX. Tara navigates the same environment of hostility that produced the 2002 lawsuit filed by the National Wrestling Coaches Association against the Department of Education to repeal Title IX.
Tara's story becomes a personal prism through which to view such broader cultural issues as the socially accepted views of masculinity and femininity, athleticism and eating disorders, teenage identity, gender discrimination in organized athletics, and the meaning and value of sports in American culture. Ultimately, Girl Wrestler reveals the many challenges and pressures faced by young girls today as they seek to carve out a place in a culture full of conflicting messages about what it means to be a girl.
The screening will be followed by a discussion co-facilitated by Maia Cudhea and Daphne Moriel.
Maia Cudhea is an adjunct member of our Women's & Gender Studies faculty. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from University of Texas at Dallas and M.S. in Sociology from University of North Texas. While she describes herself as "pretty much the opposite of an athlete," she currently works for the Department of Athletics at the University of North Texas as the Academic Support Coordinator for our Mean Green student-athletes.
Daphne Moriel was a three-time High School All-American, wrestling out of Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas. She went on to University of the Cumberlands in 2005 - 2009 where she (in addition to earning a B.A. in Philosophy, Religion, Political Science, & Spanish) wrestled as a member of a National Championship team. Daphne received her M.S. in Spanish from the University of North Texas, and is currently a member of the staff of Central High School in Keller, TX as an assistant coach and serves as a TXUSAW coach for the Texas National Team.