Policing the Boundaries of Sex in Sport

Cheryl Cooky and Shari Dworkin focus their article around Caster Semenya a 18 year old female track star who won the world championships in 2009. They go on to discuss the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the policies they have enacted regarding gender issues and gender testing in sport. While I do believe that men have an unfair advantage over women in many sports do to physical size, there is no reason why one woman cannot dominate a sport the way men like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps do.

When any athlete performs above and beyond expectations there seems to always be a question regarding doping to follow. I however believe that using gender testing, after drug tests are past, to be disrespectful and wrong. I believe tests like these are brought upon individuals because we as a society do not like to lose and are willing to find any excuse as to why we lost.

Cooky and Dworkin bring up another IAAF rule change at the end of their discussion regarding marathon records. “The IAAF declared the only world records that count are those from a ‘women’s-only’ event.” They claimed that having a male set the pace provided an ‘unfair advantage’, as it gave them the ability to pace themselves faster than they typically would run.

While I think that running along side a male who is faster than a female the female may be inclined to pick up the pace in order to match the male. I do not think this warrants the removal of these records. The mere presence of a male may increase the pace of the female however it does not increase their maximum potential. I think the IAAF needs to reexamine their policies with the idea in mind of how individuals would feel having the policies used against them. Setting a world record or winning a gold medal should not be discounted because you ran at the same time as a male counterpart or someone is upset and believes you may have entered the event as the opposite gender. The social and mental repercussions of people questioning your gender and ability to physically perform are not positive, and thus should be avoided. Every policy created has effect on multiple parties and a fair playing field is not the be-all-end-all in life.

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