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Tue, Oct 29


Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum

Locker Room Talk: A Woman’s Struggle to Get Inside with Melissa Ludtke

Journalist Melissa Ludtke in conversation with Seattle Times assistant managing features editor Stefanie Loh

Locker Room Talk: A Woman’s Struggle to Get Inside with Melissa Ludtke
Locker Room Talk: A Woman’s Struggle to Get Inside with Melissa Ludtke

Time & Location

Oct 29, 2024, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM PDT

Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum, 93 Pike St #307, Seattle, WA 98101, USA

About the Event

Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum and the Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS) are thrilled to welcome journalist and author Melissa Ludtke to celebrate the launch of  Locker Room Talk: A Woman’s Struggle to Get Inside. Melissa will be in conversation with the assistant managing editor overseeing features at The Seattle Times, Stefanie Loh. Join us for an author conversation and  reception. 

While sportswriters rushed into Major League Baseball locker rooms to talk with players, MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn barred the lone woman from entering along with them. That reporter, 26-year-old Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke, charged Kuhn with gender discrimination, and after the lawyers argued Ludtke v. Kuhn in federal court, she won. Her 1978 groundbreaking case affirmed her equal rights, and the judge’s order opened the doors for several generations of women to be hired in sports media.   

Locker Room Talk is Ludtke’s gripping account of being at the core of this globally covered case that churned up ugly prejudices about the place of women in sports. Kuhn claimed that allowing women into locker rooms would violate his players’ “sexual privacy.” Late-night television comedy sketches mocked her as newspaper cartoonists portrayed her as a sexy, buxom looker who wanted to ogle the naked athletes’ bodies.  She weaves these public perspectives throughout her vivid depiction of the court drama overseen by Judge Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman to serve on the federal bench. She recounts how her lawyer, F.A.O. “Fritz” Schwarz employed an ingenious legal strategy that persuaded Judge Motley to invoke the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause in giving Ludtke access identical to her male counterparts. Locker Room Talk is both an inspiring story of one woman’s determination to do a job dominated by men and an illuminating portrait of a defining moment for women’s rights. 

Melissa Ludtke was a reporter for Sports Illustrated, a correspondent for Time, and editor of Nieman Reports at Harvard University. Her books include On Our Own: Unmarried Motherhood in America and Touching Home in Chinain search of missing girlhoods. She received the Yankee Quill Award and Mary Garber Pioneer Award and was a Nieman Fellow and a Prudential Fellow at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Stefanie Loh is the assistant managing editor overseeing features at The Seattle Times. She formerly held features editor, assistant sports editor and college football reporter positions at The Seattle Times.


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