The Olympic games allow us to take stock of how we view women athletes and of the flawed ways we talk about gender and the performance of gender roles in public.
Male athletes–think Armstrong, Phelps, jockeys–have “physical traits” considered responsible for superior performance, while elite female athletes are increasingly being tested and “treated” for “Disorders of Sexual Development.”
Caster Semenya should not be placed on trial — it’s our society’s outmoded perspective on gender that’s due for an overhaul. That race for equality won’t be won until we’re all free to safely cross the finish line together.
In a letter to the UN, South African Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities states that the questioning of Caster Semenya’s gender is based on a stereotypical view of physical features and abilities attributable to women, and demonstrates the extent of patriarchy within the world’s sporting community.
When South African athlete Caster Semenya won the 800 meter track competition last month in Berlin, some observers questioned Semenya’s “real” sex and she was forced to undergo testing.
News analysts continue to debate fallout from health reform speech outburst by Joe Wilson; gender identity of South African athlete publicly discussed; US private security contractor in Afghanistan accused of sex trafficking.
Testing 18-year-old South African athlete Caster Semenya to determine
whether or not she is female is the latest demonstration of the way
societies are unable to accept that gender is fluid and people are not
always "one or the other."