Long article from the New York Times Magazine on the sex testing of women in Olympic sports, particularly running. It’s illuminating for both the ways that it explores how science cannot do what the IOC and the IAAF wants it to do–definitively define sex–and while it’s not explicitly explored, the ways that the women often identified for testing are from impoverished backgrounds. It’s hard to ignore the class and race implications, however.
The history of sex testing presented here is one I didn’t know, and it’s well worth the time to read. What I found fascinating is the idea that science cannot make sex into a binary when nature refuses to do so and that part of what makes Olympic athletes so good are often times genetic abnormalities–think Michael Phelps body dimensions–that put them outside the so-called norm. Yet, we penalize women for not presenting as the norm–think every article written a both Serena Williams–and not men.