Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Comme ci, comme ca?

I've been watching with interest the furore over Caster Semenya, the new womens World 800m champion... or is she? The IAAF are conducting gender tests to ensure that she really is a woman, although it all seems a bit complicated to me.

Surely they've seen her in the showers?

According to the BBC, 'external genitalia can be "ambiguous"', which I'm sure is reassuring to all those men suffering from LWS*. As if they don't have enough to worry about having a small dick, now they have to worry that perhaps it's really an enlarged clitoris.

The most worrying thing about the whole affair is of course the question of genetics. If it turns out that Caster Semenya is really a man who's had his trouser snake turned from an out-y into an in-y just to gain an advantage then fair enough. The game is up and he's caught. If, however, she is a she, as her parents assure us, and they would know, but it turns out that genetically she is a hermaphrodite, then what effect will this have on modern sports? Random gender tests along with the random drug tests? And what would happen if the results where publically disseminated?

Would the gender gap in society close if it turned out that David Beckham was really 40% more female than his wife? Or that Margaret Thatcher was genetically closer to male?

Obviously any intrusion of genetics into sport poses questions. Does Usain Bolt have a genetic advantage that allows him to run so fast? (And is he a man?) And if he did, would his times be struck from the record books and his medals removed? Will athletes in the future have to prove that they're just normal folks and don't have any natural born affinities or advantages in certain sports? And if they do, then what's the fucking point in competing?

*Little Willy Syndrome

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