After the young South African athlete Caster Semenya won the 800m title at the 2009 World Championships she was obliged to undergo gender testing and was temporarily withdrawn from international competition. The way that this controversy unfolded represents a rich and multi-layered example of the construction of gender in wider society and the interrelationships between sport, culture and the media. This is the first book to explore the case in depth, from socio-cultural, ethical and legal perspectives.
Analysing what came to be called "the Caster Semenya Case" in a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary fashion, and covering issues from media discourses and the rhetoric and regulations of the sport’s governing bodies to the reaction of the athlete herself, the book explores the ethics of how gender norms in sport, and in society more generally, are constructed through appearance, behaviour and sporting performance. This 2009 controversy can be taken as an indicator of the tensions of the time, and served as a link between medical sciences, society and gender.
Including discussions of key concepts such as 'intersex', 'body norms', and 'fairness', Gender Testing in Sport is fascinating and important reading for anybody with an interest in sport studies, gender studies or biomedical ethics.
"The result of a multidisciplinary, international workshop, this volume, edited by Montan~ola (communication studies, Univ. of Rennes 1, France) and Olivesi (communication and media studies, Univ. Claude Bernard Lyon, France) includes nine chapters that focus on the “complex case” of South African runner Caster Semenya, whom officials forced to undergo gender testing after winning the 800m title at the 2009 World Championships. This collection covers the sociocultural, historical, medical, ethical, and legal contexts surrounding this particular incident. The first four chapters explore various approaches to how norms and definitions about the female body have been constructed and the resulting impact, particularly within sport. An especially strong argument here involves the historical and social legitimization of issues of fairness. The remaining five chapters focus on how these sex and gender norms appear in global media discourses and coverage. A weakness, however, is that some chapters seem only tangentially related to the Semenya case—inspired by, rather than based on. Arguably more about gender construction than gender testing, this edited collection makes a solid contribution to scholarship in several areas of study by approaching one incident from a variety of academic disciplines. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through researchers and faculty."
A. Curtis, Lake Erie College - CHOICE
"The collection as a whole emphasizes the construction, cultural significance, and meaning of gender more than the ethics of gender testing in sport, but it offers fresh, convincing, and astute perspectives on gender testing. Two chapters, by Elaine Salo and John Sloop, address Semenya’s use of silence in response to the intense public scrutiny she faced and continued to receive. Both chapters are theoretically strong, engaging, and bring new perspectives to the body of literature addressing sex/gender testing in sport."
Sarah Teetzel, Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba
1. From Apartheid to Segregation in Sports: the transgressive body of Caster Mokgadi Semenya
2. Gender Verifications vs. Anti-Doping Policies: sexed controls
[Anaïs Bohuon and Eva Rodriguez]
3. Unfair Advantage and the Myth of the Level Playing Field in IAAF and IOC Policies on Hyperandrogenism: when is it fair to be a woman?
[Sylvia Camporesi and Paolo Maugeri]
4. Categorizing and Attributing the Sex of Individuals: history of the science, law and ethics
[Laurence Brunet and Muriel Salle]
5. Caster Semenya and the Intersex Hypothesis: on gender as the visual evidence of sex
6. From the Implicit to Aporia: the specificities of the Caster Semenya case as a "discursive moment"
7. From Sports to Science, Rhetorical and Power Issues in the Media Coverage of Caster Semenya
8. "Caster Semenya - the ncients would have called her god." The International Re-Imagining and Remaking of Sex and the Art of Silence
9. Gender, Silence, and a Queer New World: Caster Semenya and unfixed ambiguity
[John M. Sloop]