Just a few mid-term up-dates on gender issues at the Olympics 2012.
First of all on the issue of sex-testing : while experts debate the usefulness and propriety of the testosterone test http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/Women-s-Rights-in-the-News2/Sex-Verification-Policy-Is-Criticized-as-a-Failure one Russian woman cyclist has already ‘failed the test’ and been sent home http://www.rt.com/sport/russian-track-cyclist-doping-olympics-810/
One of the traditional targets of the testosterone police is the South African athlete Caster Semenyahttp://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/caster_semenya/index.html?inline=nyt-per who carried the flag for her team at the opening and will be appearing in the women’s 400 meters race .Various reports find her looking ‘more feminine’ than previously and speculate on treatment she may have been taking in order to qualify http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/26/caster-semenya-and-the-ioc-s-olympics-gender-bender.html
The IOC insists that it is important to detect (and ‘correct’) the increasing numbers of ‘intersex’ athletes who have an unfair advantage if they compete in women’s sports. Would it not be a good idea, as gendercentric has already proposed, to have more events organized according to previous performance rather than gender? https://gendercentric.org/16-newsflash/55-olympic-game-changers With advances in prosthetics there are already discussions about the possibility eventually of merging some Olympic with the Para-Olympic events; surely it should be possible already for the similarly- abled regardless of gender to compete in the same event.
Just for the record, the figure of openly gay and lesbian athletes at Olympic 2012 is 22 compared with 10 in Bejing. http://www.awid.org/layout/set/print/News-Analysis/Women-s-Rights-in-theNews2/S . Karen Hultzer the South African archer outed herself as the twenty—second http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/karen-hultzer-south-africa-olympic-lesbian_n_1723917.html
The dress and appearance of women athletes appears to draw the usual unnecessary amount of attention from the media and the blogosphere particularly that of Zoe Smith, the British weightlifter accused of being ‘unfeminine’, http://www.salon.com/2012/08/01/zoe_smith_takes_on_everyone/ ; and the beach volleyball team who are either over- or under-dressed depending on the weather and your point of view. The African American gymnast Gabby Douglas was criticised for her un-straightened hair but congratulated by Oprah anyway… so that’s alright then.
We would suggest that some of the men’s outfits such as those of the Australian cyclists appear to be channelling in effect the Borat ‘mankini’ though this has not drawn media attention or comment.
Three countries sent women to the Olympics for the first time…Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrein https://gendercentric.org/16-newsflash/55-olympic-game-changers and two of them have been sighted; the sprinter Noor Al Malki of Qatar, and in judo Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani of Saudi Arabia. Both were allowed to perform with heads covered though that had been in doubt until the last moment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, neither athlete hit the medals table but both were ‘firsts’ by demonstrating very powerfully the old adage that it is not the winning but the taking part that counts http://www.rt.com/sport/first-saudi-woman-olympic-judo-800/ and will hopefully light the way for others to follow.
Both men and women medal winners of all nationalities cried copiously but the latter coped better with their posies.