Since yesterday was the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, here’s a round-up of some gender and sexuality related news for this year’s games
, the good and the bad. Above is a Reuters photograph of Sarah Attar, a middle-distance runner, and one of the two Saudi Arabian women sent to this year’s Olympics, as she took part in the Parade of Nations yesterday. Here are more photos of Saudi Arabia’s female athletes at the opening ceremony
- This is a pre-Olympics article from this June on Deadspin, but it’s a truly fabulous article. Marking the retirement of Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, Dvora Meyers looks at how critics and the public discuss female gymnast’s bodies in code. Unbelievably insightful and relevant to the coming weeks.
- This will be the fourth Olympics for Australian swimmer Liesel Jones, who first competed at age 14 and has since collected three gold medals, four silvers and a bronze and holds a number of world records. Some people, though, just want to take some page space to consider the important question of whether or not she’s gained weight.
- Clare Malone wrote yesterday at The American Prospect about female boxers, aesthetic femininity and our perceptions of women we see as competing in men’s sports. This is the first Olympics to feature women’s boxing.
- And, of course, there is the hormone question. Rebecca Jordan-Young and Katrina Karkazis wrote a mid-June op-ed for the New York Times decrying the IOC’s policies on sex verification, which will ban women with hyperandrogenism (naturally heightened levels of testosterone) from competition because it gives them an advantage deemed unfair. In the conversation had on Andrew Sullivan’s the Daily Dish, a number of points were brought up, including that other biological advantages, like Michael Phelps’ genetic disorder that gives him long limbs and hypermobile joints or other athletes who have unusually large aerobic capacities, are not treated in this way. (Oh, and remember Caster Semenya? She’s now reportedly receiving some sort of treatment that allows her to qualify under IOC hormone regulations and is being hailed as more “feminine.” Dear lord.) Check out Feministing’s mid-June post about policing femininity in sports and the Olympics.
- Quite disappointing news… Afghan female boxer Sadaf Rahimi was originally extended a wildcard invitation by the IOC despite not qualifying officially. The International Boxing Association, however, has decided that she cannot compete, citing concerns over her abilities in the ring. Check out some amazing photos of her, though. She’s still a trailblazer.
- Keelin Godsey also won’t be attending the games. He was hoping to be the first openly transgender competitor.
- In awesome things that have come out of the Olympics, though, the US managed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title XIV in true style by sending more female athletes than male to London, a first for us.
- It’s also a global first: the first time that all participating countries are sending women to compete in the Olympics. Saudi Arabia, Brunei, and Qatar have ended their tradition of sending only males to compete.
- Saudi Arabia’s female judo competitor, Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, is currently in negotiations to be able to compete in a hijab.
- Over at the Washington Post, Nadia Mohammed considers the pivotal roles played in 2012’s Olympic Games by Muslim women.
- And check out some pieces profiling women athletes… The Atlantic on 17-year-old US boxer Claressa Shields, AKA “T-Rex.” Buzzfeed profiles America’s strongest person, Sarah Robles, who lives in poverty and remains ignored by sponsors despite her weightlifting prowess. Vogue has an awkward profile of flyweight US boxer Marlen Esparza (Vogue is awkward, not Esparza), but her story is definitely worth a read.
Definitely talked about Semenya last night with my mom, as well as transgender athletes and how the Olympics might handle them, and how arbitrary it seems to me to do genetic testing to determine how someone gets to compete. I hadn’t even thought about the Phelps bit in that bullet, but also an important point and makes it all seem even MORE arbitrary.
excellent roundup for anyone interested in women’s issue and sport.
(also pretty horrifying that the olympics is now deciding just how female is female)
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