Olympics Struggle With ‘Policing Femininity’

In a potential move which seems both startlingly futuristic and archaic, the Olympics may require some of the world’s top female athletes to alter their natural bodies through surgery or hormone therapy to become more similar to what the Olympics imagines a “woman” is, if they wish to compete. Time to scrap the outdated two-gender sporting system and experiment with three or more classes? The Toronto Star writes:

There are female athletes who will be competing at the Olympic Games this summer after undergoing treatment to make them less masculine. Still others are being secretly investigated for displaying overly manly characteristics, as sport’s highest medical officials attempt to quantify — and regulate — the hormonal difference between male and female athletes.

Caster Semenya, the South African runner who was so fast and muscular that many suspected she was a man, exploded onto the front pages three years ago. She was considered an outlier, a one-time anomaly. But similar cases are emerging all over the world, and Semenya, who was banned from competition for 11 months while authorities investigated her sex, is back, vying for gold.

Semenya and other women like her face a complex question: Does a female athlete whose body naturally produces unusually high levels of male hormones, allowing them to put on more muscle mass and recover faster, have an “unfair” advantage?…

Read More: Toronto Star

12 Comments on "Olympics Struggle With ‘Policing Femininity’"

  1. Jin The Ninja | Jun 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm |

    Jacob, just a minor correction- the paper is the Toronto Star.

  2. The difference is in their pants. 

  3. I’m not going to lie, I really don’t know what to make of this. I think its simply the few women who picked the “super athlete” ticket in the ‘genetic lottery’ finally making themselves known.

    They really aren’t too far behind ‘super athlete’ males, they too only became known once being a professional athlete became a legitimate and glamorous job.

  4. So maybe instead of having gender-based divisions maybe we should just measure the hormone levels and group people that way?

  5. Brianh1903 | Jun 13, 2012 at 10:22 am |

    Funny that this female athlete whose suspected of being a man has the last name SEMENya

  6. discusthrower | Jun 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm |

    I admit that it is weird, but it isn’t fair for the competing women if somebody has defining characteristics of men, ie gonads.

  7. “In the 1960s, female athletes had to walk nude in front of a panel of experts who assessed their sexual credentials.”

    experts, experts….

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