- 1 week ago
- 4 weeks ago
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?
In a move critics call “policing femininity,” recent rule changes by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the governing body of track and field, state that for a woman to compete, her testosterone must not exceed the male threshold.
If it does, she must have surgery or receive hormone therapy prescribed by an expert IAAF medical panel and submit to regular monitoring. So far, at least a handful of athletes — the figure is confidential — have been prescribed treatment, but their numbers could increase. Last month, the International Olympic Committee began the approval process to adopt similar rules for the Games.
There’s a lot going on here, but here’s what jumped out at us immediately: Women, particularly women athletes, are constantly told they’re not as strong or fast as men—and now that they’re proving otherwise, they’re being forced to undergo hormone treatments. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that women of color are coming under fire for this more than white women. From the article: “Lindsay Perry, another scientist, says sometimes whole teams of African women are dead ringers for men.” This is a clear example of how we’ve constructed a very particular, very narrow ideal of femininity and womanhood that devalues and casts aside black women in particular.
Fuck the IOC and its cissexist anti-black misogyny.
bolding the great commentary
“It’s still the old patriarchal fear, or doubt, that women can do outstanding athletic performances. If they do, they can’t be real women. It’s that clear, it’s that prejudicial,” Another quote from the article.
No, they’re not proving that they’re as strong or fast as men, and that’s the whole problem. If they were to prove they were as strong or fast as men, we could (at least in these events) ditch sex as a criteria altogether. The problem is that they can effectively blow away all the other women in competition while still having absolutely no chance in competition with the men.
The reason we separate the sexes for competition is because, on a level playing field, women can’t compete. (There are a handful of exceptions to this, of course, but they’re called ‘exceptions’ for a reason.) We acknowledge that it would be unfair, and the easiest way to sort things out is segregation. The problem is that wherever there is segregation, there will be issues around the boundary. Because the boundary is in practice defined by hormones, not genetics, as our understanding advances we require increasingly precise standards. Is the boundary really about “male versus female” or is it about the levels of testosterone in one’s system? Considering it’s (among other hormones) testosterone that gives men the enhanced muscle mass and overall athletic advantage in the first place, that seems to make sense, no?
Which is fairer, dividing people by chromosome in a way that will effectively screw all women who aren’t incredible outliers with effectively male hormonal makeups, or telling people that “everyone above X testosterone goes into the line on the left”? This isn’t about “definitions of femininity,” it’s that you’re mistaking how people are being divided. While gender provides a convenient shorthand ninety-five times out of a hundred, Olympic organizers have sensibly decided that hormones should be the deciding factor, and that if you’re above this line you either compete in the division with the men, or have those levels lowered. Framing this as misogyny is simply silly.
(Text from our previous post on the topic.)
I find this argument disturbing because if the boundary WAS just hormones and not sex, these women wouldn’t be required to undergo non-medical hormone replacement therapy. They might not be able to compete, or we might need to add a “median testosterone range” class of competition, but they wouldn’t be ALTERING THEIR BODIES. What about all the men who are outside the “normal” range of testosterone for the average man? Does this mean they’ll have a ceiling, too?
Your argument here makes virtually no sense. None of these women are being required to undergo HRT. They are, however, being allowed to compete if they do. In other words, the IOC has gone with the first option (“they might not be able to compete”), while offering athletes an option. Athletes alter their bodies every single day in the pursuit of success; don’t act like it’s something new.
Second, you’ve misunderstood the point. It’s not solely about hormones, it’s about a whole variety of sex-dimorphic characteristics which give men an advantage in athletic competition. Hormones just happened to be the relevant example in this case. Modern Olympic sex testing is largely comprehensive, involving a panel of experts with a variety of backgrounds.
Finally, men would not have a ceiling for the same reason women would not have a floor: just like weight classes, the ends are unbounded. From a competitive perspective, though, the only case that matters is “high” competitors in the “low” division, because all other combinations are either neutral or disadvantageous to the athlete.
If these women’s bodies are producing this testosterone naturally then why does that not just make them exceptional women instead of “effectively male”? Even presuming there is a clear-cut gender binary, women and men STILL have a spectrum of hormone amounts and just because these women happen to have a high amount of what society considers to be the “male” hormone doesn’t mean that they should be required to undergo non-medical hormone therapy.
Because it would destroy women’s sport. Consider the most extreme possible example: a female athlete with an entirely masculine phenotype (in other words, who is physiologically identical to most men). How badly do you think that would break the competitive curve? It’s hard to give a precise answer, but we can certainly offer some examples. In tennis, a man ranked outside the top 200 easily beat two of the top women players in an exhibition match. In hockey, the US Olympic team (second in the world) maintains a roughly even win ratio against men’s high school varsity teams. In many track-and-field sports, the men’s qualifying time (in other words, the time required to even be allowed to compete) is significantly above the women’s world record.
Making sense yet? Remember, this is also entirely dependent on how we ourselves are defining “men” and “women.” You may say “these women” as though that’s a simple thing, but where are we going to draw that line? Genetics? Hormones? Physiology? Gender presentation? Self-identification? Every single one of those not only presents serious problems for competitiveness, but also considerable issues regarding where lines should be drawn.
The IOC has to place a boundary somewhere, because otherwise women’s sport as it exists today would effectively cease to be. The exact location of that boundary may be up for debate, but using any single category to the exclusion of all others isn’t an answer, and that’s really all you seem to be advocating.
It is ABSOLUTELY about policing women’s bodies, which makes it inherently mysogynistic. This is like saying “this person is naturally predisposed to building muscle mass more easily than most people with similar levels of fitness, so they should be made to undergo treatment to void that natural predisposition”. Or, if you want a real Olympics example, like saying Michael Phelps should have been disqualified for his exceptionally hydrodynamic body. There is no reason why natural hormones should be considered an “unfair advantage”. This is arbitrary and mysogynistic policing of women’s bodies. These people are EXCEPTIONAL, that is the whole point.
It’s not about policing women’s bodies. It’s about giving half the human population a chance at representation in one of the most important sporting events in the world.
I found this all really fascinating to read, as it seems so clear to me that “policing women’s bodies” is the last thing the IOC is attempting to do, and “preserving the ability for women with normal-range hormone levels to realistically compete” is their actual goal. If they were to allow women with any testosterone levels to compete — and not put a certain cap on them, and offer hormone therapy to the athletes who still want to compete in these events — isn’t it pretty obvious what would happen?
Female olympic athletes would simply start “doping” themselves with testosterone to increase their advantage against other female athletes, and we’d have the same sort of arms race that we do in many male-dominated sports where there are no hormone ceilings, and performance enhancers are almost a requirement.
Sometimes I’m genuinely baffled by the things that Tumblr deems misogynist.
all women produce trace levels of testosterone. the problem is that the olympic committee is actually trying to tell women that the amount of hormones their body naturally produces makes them less of a woman or less capable of playing in women’s sports.
how is that not misogyny?? To tell someone that their natural body is too masculine for them to be a female athlete???
I’m very confused as to how this isn’t misogny as well. If it really is just about certain makers that makes one “more masculine”, wouldn’t the more intelligent thing to do would be to simply create categories according to these markers instead of according to sex?Source: sparkamovement
- 4 weeks ago
Such a shame they decided to be happy with a white woman ( of course) being the main character. For example, Taystee would be a perfect example of a main character, but it would be fucking disasterous for Netflix to star a minority as a main character. This fucking world we live in.
I just have one question for you,
ARE YOU BLACK?
If no, stop trying to stick up for actual black people. If we find something racist, we have our own voice.
OITNB is a fucking great show. And while Piper is the main character, there are other characters that get attention.
Not everything has to be about black people. There are plenty of movies and shows with black people has main characters.
I clearly state that I’m Trans-black. So fuck off!Trans-black
It happened everyone! The self-hating white SJWs are officially going to transition into other “races.”
please tell me you are a fucking troll if not you are the racist one here
~the black one
Heaven make way, I can’t deal with these people no more!
That’s not even Taystee. That’s Poussey.
OITNB is based off of an actual book about a real woman, Piper, who spent a year in prison.
Also, Piper Kerman (Piper Chapman IRL) is white.
I am laughing so hard at all of this
I thought I wouldn’t be able to breathe at the “ARE YOU BLACK? BECAUSE I’M BLACK AND I SPEAK FOR ALL BLACK PEOPLE SO YOU CANNOT BE BLACK,” comment, but when we got to “Oh white people are transitioning into RACES now” that’s when I knew the true meaning of air deprivation. (I do hope most people realize what trans means at this point.)
I hope we have all learned a valuable lesson. Or at least laughed.
(via sinderhella)Source: closetalkers
- 4 weeks ago
If you think all Black people’s blogs are “social justice” blogs, you’re racist.
I read some newspaper article recently that pretty much summed up Tumblr and the responses to it this way—privileged people who come here are shocked to see marginalized people talking about their experiences, so they think everyone’s just obsessed with social justice, rather than talking about their own lives.
(via reverseracism)Source: yungmethuselah
- 4 weeks ago
And a tree. Don’t forget the tree.
Wait. You Forgot The Birds.
YOU FORGOT THE HOLE IN THE TREE.
AND THAT TOTALLY RANDOM FLOWER.
and sometimes the sun had sunglasses? for some reason?
what do you mean when we were children
this is so relatable
- 4 weeks ago
Pedophilia in the Black community is such effin big elephant in the room.
We talk so much shit about these young Black girls getting pregnant while in school or whatever but not the fact it be niggas in they 20’s 30’s impregnating them.
I swear this behavior is so normalized in the hood.
Cat calling 10 year olds with body and shit.
Sexualizing little girls calling them thots & recording it for the vine
Insisting that reporting such behavior only contributes to the criminalization of black men.
(via theuppitynegras)Source: wifigirl2080
- 4 weeks ago