Testing Sex, Attributing Gender

What Caster Semenya Means to Women’s Sports

Authors

  • Susan Cahn University of Buffalo

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1123/jis.4.1.38

Abstract

The highly-publicized case of Caster Semenya is a symptom of deeper problems that continue to plague women athletes at all levels—biased gender identification and a belief that sport and femininity do not mesh. I trace my own path through the thickets of “angry feminism,” a love of sports, stereotypes of the “fair” sex, and a 4-year-old nephew’s confused claim that Aunt Susan is a man. I examine symbols, body parts, gestures, clothing and other means by which men and women are unevenly (and often inaccurately and unfairly) identified. I note that in spite of new opportunities enjoyed by women to run, jump, compete and otherwise celebrate their physicality, female athletes still struggle to maintain their identity as “normal.” I see dangers in a world that forces its citizens into one of two gender boxes, but I also acknowledge gender as an important part of human identity and sporting opportunity. I conclude that I do not have any solutions, only questions. But I am certain that we should be able to play in a world where none of us is robbed of our joy.

Author Biography

Susan Cahn, University of Buffalo

Cahn is with the Dept. of History, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.

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Published

2011-06-01

How to Cite

Cahn, S. (2011). Testing Sex, Attributing Gender: What Caster Semenya Means to Women’s Sports. Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, 4(1), 38–48. https://doi.org/10.1123/jis.4.1.38

Issue

Section

Conference Presentations And Responses