Monday, January 04, 2010

Leaky hegemony versus conformity

Wow--I just don't know what to do with this story (kindly sent to me by Sean at Sportsbabel).
Australian track and field star Jana Rawlinson, who specializes in the hurdles, recently had her breast implants removed. Not because she didn't like the way they looked: "I absolutely loved having big boobs" she said. No, it was because she didn't want to "short-change Australia" in the 2012 Olympics. She wanted to be the fittest she could be and I guess that meant ditching the implants.
Curious, curious, curious. Why would she add them in the first place? [OK; just found this article about when the news of the implants was publicly revealed.] Olympic-level track athletes usually start running pretty early in their lives. Likely earlier than the decision to have implants would be made. Actually, we can infer that Rawlinson was indeed already an athlete when she chose to have breast augmentation because the reason behind the implants, she says, was that she didn't like the way her body looked: "When I looked in the mirror, I just saw muscled arms, broad shoulders, and big, strong legs."
And while she recognized that such a physique was an asset to well her athletic career, it apparently bothered her enough to get implants. But now the implants, apparently, are bothering her performance (or her perception of her performance) enough to get them removed.
So now she's back to that body that challenges the hegemonic feminine form, but it's not the body she really wants, clearly.
"There are a couple of girls--who I won't name*--in world athletics who are Olympic champions, but they look like men and I don't want to be like that."
So she got breast implants not to look like a man? So does that cast more or less suspicion on her "true gender." We are talking about track and field which as we know has spent a lot of time casting around for false females. Maybe Rawlinson was worried that her too athletic figure would call attention to her gender. Maybe if Caster Semenya had gotten breast implants would that have stopped this whole thing before it started! [Please note the tongue-in-cheekiness of this last paragraph--just in case you're new here at After Atalanta and unfamiliar with how the sarcasm drips.]


* Yeah, Jana, we all know who you are talking about...

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