Wednesday, July 30, 2008 ick

I can't even come up with some snarky to start this post because I am just so astonished by the news that the Beijing Olympics are going to engage in gender verification.
Oh yes, it's true.
When Ebuz alerted me to the NYT article linked above, I so naively and with the slightest bit of hope said "are they testing the men too?"
Yeah, right.
In fact, they aren't even testing all female athletes or even just a random sampling. They are testing "suspect" athletes. Has there been a situation of late to which we could so aptly apply the term witch hunt?
So many questions...Who decided this? When? Why is it being allowed to happen? Is there any possible way to stop it? And I am so so curious as to the criteria being employed to determine suspect athletes? Do they win too much and too well thus relying on the stereotype that women can't be too good in sports? Are their muscles too big reinforcing some biological essentialism that does not account for a spectrum of abilities? Did someone forget to wax her lip and thus capitulate to the patriarchal standards of femininity?
The article lays out the problematic history of verification tests so I won't. But I did think that such history would convince the powers-that-be that such testing is not only inaccurate and essentialist, it's just plain icky. Can you imagine what would happen if the Beijing organizers (those are the people, I found out after more carefully reading the article, who have instituted the testing) said suspect men were going to be tested to make sure they were really men; that they would have to submit to chromosomal, hormonal and visual testing. Yeah, me neither.

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