"Gender Cheating" in Sport: A Moral View

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"Gender Cheating" in Sport: A Moral View

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Publication Conference Paper, other
Title "Gender Cheating" in Sport: A Moral View
Author(s) Jönsson, Kutte
Date 2010
English abstract
One of the most debated athletes during 2009 was the 18-year old South African runner Caster Semenya. Her winning the gold medal at 800 metres for women at the athletics World Championships in Berlin led to ugly controversies regarding her gender. The International Association of Athletics Federations (the IAAF) suspected that biologically, she was a man, not a woman. Or, in others words, that she was a “gender cheater”. Evidently, for that reason alone she was forced to undergo a degrading gender test. (The result has not been published, and it will stay unpublished if Semenya does not want to announce it.) The case of Semenya showed how strong the gender norms in sport really are. Obviously, sport society shows very little understanding of athletes who transcend the culturally given gender barriers. Now, Semenya is not the first in sports history to be accused of “gender cheating”. Most likely, she will not be the last either as long as sport society elaborates with the concept of gender. But clearly, there seems to be an obsession of organizing competitive sports in gender classes. The most common reason for this order is that it serves gender equality. I doubt that, though. In fact, I believe we have reason to think that the gender equality-argument is counterproductive in terms of fairness in sports. On basis of the Semenya case I argue that gender classes in sports is not only unfair, it also jeopardizes the moral legitimacy of competitive sports in general, for the simple reason that it demands a rigid and immoral standardization of bodies.
Swedish abstract
En av de mest debatterade idrottarna under 2009 var den 18-åriga, sydafrikanska löparen Caster Semenya. Hennes seger på 800 meter vid VM i Berlin ledde till en kontrovers beträffande henes könstillhörighet. Det internationella friiidrottsförbundet misstänkte att hon inte var kvinna, utan man. Dvs att hon var en "könsfuskare". Av det skälet fick hon underkasta sig ett kränkande könstest. (Resultatet har inte tillkännagivits, och kommer inte heller att offentliggöras om inte Semenya själv önskar det.) Fallet Semenya visade emellertid hur stark könsnormerna är inom idrotten är. Och idrottsvärlden visar dessutom liten förståelse för idrottare som överskrider den kulturellt definierade könsbarriären. I ljuset av detta fall argumenterar jag för att indelningar utifrån kön är inte bara orättvisa, de riskerar även att undergräva den moraliska legitimiteten för tävlingsidrott överlag, av det enkla skälet att indelningen kräver en rigid och omoralisk standardisering av kroppar.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) fairness
gender
sport
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
Note Center and Peripheries in Sport, Malmö University, 8-12, 2010.
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/13423 (link to this page)

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